A dismal new report reveals
that independent bookstores in the United Kingdom are closing at the rate of two per week. The Guardian reports:
With independents blaming increased competition from the internet, supermarkets, a declining British high street and the credit crunch for their troubles, figures from the Booksellers Association show that 102 independent stores closed in 2009, leaving just 1,289 left in the UK -- a decline of 27% since 1999. Last year also saw the 45-store book chain Borders fall into administration, while like-for-like sales at Waterstone's were down by 8.5% in the crucial Christmas trading period.
"The current economic climate is undeniably tough and the book retail sector is suffering across the board," said the Booksellers Association's head of membership services Meryl Halls. She called on readers to support independents, saying that those shops which "are fighting so hard to survive continue to deliver an outstanding service – knowing the books they recommend and sell, knowing their customers, focusing on things that the deep price cutters can't offer and running fantastic and value-adding events".
"These booksellers are at the centre of their communities but, as with all retailers, they need to be supported in order to survive," she said.
On the bright side, the Booksellers Association also reported that 40 new independent bookstores opened during 2009, including a foray into bookselling by literary agents Sarah Lutyens and Felicity Rubinstein. They opened a new store in Notting Hill in October.