Thursday, December 20, 2018

Reading is Fashionable Again

Well, it never went out of style for me, lol.

At the Irish Times, "‘Like vinyl, reading is fashionable again’: Bookshops booming as readers turn page to new post-peak-Kindle chapter":

Store manager of the Winding Stair Maire Griffin flits around book-laden tables, clambering over a dog lead, to add another text to the growing pile in one customer’s arms.

The popular bookshop on Lower Ormond Street on Dublin’s north quays is a hub for book fans and international tourists seeking a literary window into Irish culture.

“Seamus Heaney’s 100 Poems has been really popular. I’ve been encouraging everyone to go to the Heaney exhibition at the National Library,” says Griffin.

“You can really influence what people buy because there’s quite a talkative vibe here, which you wouldn’t get in the bigger stores,” she goes on. Books, she believes, are an experience.

The man with the dog lead over which she clambered, and the attached hound, butts in: “I love it here because it’s one of the only places you can bring your dog to.”

Griffins is not alone in believing that readers have reached “the peak-Kindle point”, where they have now begun to resume the love affair with print, not antiseptic e-screens.

Book sales in Ireland are up by 7 per cent this year. In the United Kingdom, sales are up by £22 million, according to Nielson BookScan, which gathers data from 6,500 booksellers across the UK.

Meanwhile, ebook sales, once the biggest threat to high street booksellers, fell by 4 per cent in 2016 and a further 3 per cent in 2017, as part of a 17 per cent drop in Britain’s overall ebook consumer market.

Special edition classics

“We feel the impact of online markets at this time because they are cheaper on price, but we don’t get many people complaining about that. Because we don’t buy in bulk, we go niche,” says Griffins.

The shelves in the Winding Stair are laden with special edition classics, vintage mini-series, Irish literature, old and new, and more recently international books that reflect the growing immigrant population.

“Particularly for children’s books there is increasing demand to show a different range of experiences. Lots of kids are not in your typical Catholic school, so parents are keen to show them the wider world.”

In the back, the Winding Stair has an armchair, a reading lamp and a second-hand book “treasure chest” for bookworms to rifle out a bargain, passing away the hours .

“Like vinyl, reading is fashionable again,” she says. “Suddenly we’re back to the Dead Poets Society days where people are proud to carry a book under their arm.”

Across town, Ranelagh’s tiny outlet, Company of Books, is bustling with shoppers asking for Christmas recommendations. Owner, Gwen Alman knows most of them by name, and by their reading choice.

The store opened in 2009 at the height of the recession and Kindle boom, but business has grown steadily over the years...
Still more.