Bricks-and-mortar bookshops have long been under attack from the threat of ecommerce but the sector is now preparing for a turnaround.
It’s “Super Thursday” this Thursday if you’re a bookseller, apparently.
This is the day when more than 500 new titles will be published. That’s more than double the number that see the light of day in a normal week and is intended to kick-start the inevitable rush that we all make to buy books for others as a mark of our love and esteem – and because it’s December 25.
There is, however, one simple and rather unpalatable fact if you happen to be a physical purveyor of books. Behind everything there lurks Amazon, the first port of call for many who want to buy new fiction or non-fiction but don’t want to pay over the odds.
What makes Super Thursday ‘super’ however is the fact that publishers and booksellers across the UK are getting together with a marketing push that, in the past, might have been left to others to sully their commercial hands with.
The genteel world of bookselling and publishing has probably been shaken more to its core by the advent of ecommerce than any other part of retail. But now it it seems to be rallying after a period of prolonged slumber and is staging what might be seen as a Davy Crockett-like last-ditch defence.
This is the ultimate instance of a former Goliath taking on the current one and seeing if it has become a David without the requisite slingshot.
This in itself is ‘super’ as the temptation for many has been to pull down the shutters and think of something else to do.
But with press reports that sales of e-books are on the wane and retailers such as Foyles unveiling new, appealingly designed, non-library-style shops, is it too early to anticipate a comeback?
The bookselling sector has been more than decimated by online retailers and the outcome has been the demise of many in the indy sector, while just a few chains are left on our high streets. Those that remain are probably stronger than they were before, their offers more targeted and their branches better places to be in.
The book sector may not actually be on its last legs. Perhaps Super Thursday should be taken as evidence of the fact that bricks-and-mortar retailers acting together may still have the ability to do something about the very real pure-play threat.