There was a time when US publishers owned their own bookstores (DoubleDay even had a chain of stores), but that ended decades ago as the stores were sold off or shuttered. Now Penguin Random House may be signalling a return to what is a common practice is Europe.
Last week the publisher officially opened a new bookstore in Carolina, a suburb of the capital of Puerto Rico. Launched in partnership with local bookseller The Bookmark, the new store has around 1,000 square feet of retail space and carries a unique selection of more than 1,000 PRH titles in both Spanish and English. There’s a children’s book section, as well as coloring books and YA titles including graphic novels.
“For us, this is an excellent initiative to continue our growth. In addition, we will increase the supply of books in the Puerto Rican market, which still has a healthy demand for a community of readers since the closing of the Borders stores,” said Juan Peña, VP of sales and marketing, JR Blue Label Management, parent company of The Bookmark.
JR Blue Label is a book wholesaler based in Puerto Rico.
The store will be run by The Bookmark, and during the first three months it will be heavily promoted by PRH through a pr campaign, an aggressive author event calendar and “innovative technology designed to help readers discover new books and authors”.
Over the next few months the store will also host events featuring Penguin Random House authors, including high-profile writers Claudia Gray and Lauren Kate, as well as story time appearances by children’s characters like Dr. Seuss’s The Cat in the Hat.
“This is the first time we are working so robustly on a store like this, in a mall setting or any other setting at retail,” said PRH SVP, Director of International Sales and Marketing Cyrus Kheradi. “This is really a first for us.”
Well, no, it really isn’t. PRH owns DoubleDay, which used to have a chain of 39 bookstores before selling them to B&N in 1990. But even so, that slip just goes to show how distant and disconnected PRH has grown from retailing; it doesn’t even remember when one of its imprints used to own bookstores.
Publishers in other countries would not make that mistake. Sweden’s Bonnier, for example, owns the PocketShop chain of airport bookstores. Germany’s Weltbild is both a book publisher and media retailer in Germany, and Italian publishers Mondadori and Giunti Editore each own a chain of bookstores.
The practice is not unknown in Japan, Brazil, and other countries; it’s only in the US that a publisher owning a bookstore chain is the exception (Deseret Book) and not the rule.
So do you think this Penguin Random House news is the beginning of a trend?
I would like to think so (I’m feeling optimistic today). What the major publishers don’t know about retail could fill a book, and one of the better ways for publishers to correct that oversight would be to run their own bookstores.
And hey, it’s rarely a bad idea to copy Amazon. That online retailer launched its first bookstore last fall just so it could learn more about how consumers browse for books in physical bookstores. That type of behavior would be useful to publishers, and not just Amazon.
image, story via News is my Business