Remember I told you about Luke Johnson, the ex-Channel 4 chairman who also presided over the demise of Borders UK, warning High Street book shops are doomed? Curzon Artificial Eye, the arthouse distributor/exhibitor, is building a cinema inside Waterstone’s flagship Piccadilly store. Trade magazine The Bookseller says more Curzon/Waterstone’s bookshop cinemas are planned. The exhibition chain already runs one cinema in Wimbledon out of an HMV record store. HMV owns Waterstone’s. Ross Fitzsimons, group strategy director of Curzon Artificial Eye, says 20 more HMV joint ventures are planned over the next five years. Waterstone’s declined to comment.
Luke Johnson, former chairman of UK broadcaster Channel 4, who tried to rescue the ailing Borders chain, has warned High Street bookshops are finished. Johnson, who tried to turn UK Borders around before admitting defeat, says bookstores will be put out of business through a combination of supermarkets and the internet. Stores such as Asda and Sainsbury’s offer heavily discounted bestsellers, while you can get anything you want via Amazon.
The UK book market itself has shrunk by nearly 3% over the past 12 months.
“I bought Borders thinking we could turn it around,” he told the BBC. “I believed wrongly we could reverse the downturn in High Street book sales. It’s a great sadness that we couldn’t. In my opinion, the High Street book store is doomed.”
Publishers I’ve spoken to agree that the one-size-fits-all bookstore doesn’t have a future. But there is still room for independents that know their customers.
Christopher MacLehose, British publisher of Stieg Larsson (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo), says that the collapse of Borders shows what happens when you try to apply a one-size-fits-all approach to bookselling. Waterstone’s is the only national bookshop chain left in the UK after the closure of Ottakar’s and Dillons. Ironically, the collapse of Borders has left the field wide open to Waterstone’s, which has a powerful retail proposition with its three-for-two paperback offers.
When Waterstone’s was founded in 1982, it originally gave a lot of leeway to individual book …