Waterstone’s to close in Dublin

The shape of things to come?

The shape of things to come?

I was genuinely saddened when I heard the news yesterday, although not surprised. I like Waterstone’s a lot. I love browsing, coming across books that I don’t see anywhere else in Dublin in their excellent history section. I liked their staff, who actually read books. I liked the atmosphere in the store. Yet I’m not surprised that they’re closing, because in the last two years I’d say I spent less than €75 in the store.

That’s the problem. I go in, have a browse, and if I see something I really like, I’ll probably buy it cheaper on Amazon.  Yet there’s the hard thing for Waterstone’s, because without them I probably would not have seen the book in the first place.

Book stores, and music stores, are both being hammered by the wider choice and cheaper prices available online, and also by the higher overheads of maintaining a main street bricks and mortar presence. They still have the impulse advantage, that DVD or book you just happen to see at just the right price and snatch it up, but that’s not enough to build a business model on, is it?

What’s the future: A world without bookstores? Personally, I suspect we may end up with huge book warehouses on the outskirts of cities, IKEA style operations which become Saturday afternoon destinations for bibliophiles, with upmarket dining and facilities for book clubs and author lectures. Through sheer size they may be able to compete with the web on price and choice. And who knows, maybe even bring like-minded people together: Singles night at BookMegaMart, anyone?

2 thoughts on “Waterstone’s to close in Dublin

  1. But if you don’t carry a decent stock you’re just the book section of Tescos. I was in Veritas the other day. They have a four volume commentary on the Gospels by Thomas Aquinas which I know will probably be there for years before anyone will buy it. But it makes the shop a proper book shop – full of things you would never consider buying normally. I love bargain book shops as well and trying authors you never heard of for 2 euro but you need shops with obscure titles.

    Or did you just mean the quantity?

  2. A friend of mine works for Waterstones and tells me that the biggest problem they have is that the management insist on each store having a huge amount of stock either on the shelves or in the store out the back. Most of this never gets sold and ends up being shipped back to the distributor with all the extra costs that entails. If they held less stock in store then that would make a big difference to their overheads but as usual the management won’t listen!

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