The Content Store

Why are Kindle sales falling while book sales are on the rise again? Maybe we have come to the realization that the book -in terms of design-cannot be bettered, and we simply feel an urge for flow without digital processing?

Reader roller coaster
And what a reader roller coaster it has been. Between the pincer movement of Amazon and Kindle, the humble bookshop was going to be a thing of the past. It was like a rabbit caught in headlights in terms of its reaction time to a rapidly changing market. Bookshops simply hadn’t anticipated or planned, instead in a panic tried to superficially reinvent. This chiefly involved engineering a coffee shop into the offer and hoping the tide would turn- but it didn’t. Adding leisure did create a destination and dwell time– it however was never a full or credible solution to the book market.

The escapade to experience
This demise was a commercial downward spiral- particularly disappointing when the product, the book itself, is incredibly powerful and beautifully simplistic in design. Some might say, the perfect design. How could a retail venture in this market possibly fail?

Hurray for human-led experience!
Fortunately the ‘sensing’ consumer caused the real change- not the retailer. The analogue-urge suddenly kicked in like vinyl records did. The customer wanted to log-out for a more playful mode. Craving for tactility and the real deal, complete with the memory evoking sand between the pages from a past holiday, creating a heavenly-gateway and emotional connection. Still… the tech versus paper discussion set aside, reading remains a verb, an activity, no matter the device. The content engagement itself causes the flow.

Create an experience
People previously would just experience things, today we need to create it. So how can the bookshop, armed with such a unique and beautiful product, tackle the online sales and distribution engines (beyond ensuring their own strong online offer; competitive pricing; and swift delivery)? It can be done through experience and celebration of the product and moreover the process. Maybe we should just focus on experience over matter, whether it is e-reader or printed matter. But wait… there is more…

Are you being served with verve?
Many bookshops still today appear to forget they are a commercial business with the aim to sell a product (and a brand), set aside an experience. They stack the product with as much care as bales of hay. Create an aloof atmosphere, and employ bookworms that sit behind cash desks immersed in the product with a body language that says, ‘do not disturb’! (Was ‘paid to read’ once a job description?)

Bigger is better?
Bigger is old school. The scale of the bookshop should also be reassessed. Morioka Shoten in Tokyo demonstrates a ‘single-book-shop’ can intensify the customer experience. Or Les Puf in Paris that in-store print on demand reduces stock holding, links digital with analogue, and allows a personalization experience. The bookshop model has been bigger footprints, we question this strategy.

Matter about the matter
The future is digital, but we remain analogue and sensitive to experience unless we become robots. Skimming, rather than reading, is epidemic in terms of social media that we pump into ourselves. But still the traditional bookshop needs to stay inked on every high street Goad plan. It remains fundamental and should be designed as exquisite and evocative as the product itself. An engaging experience altogether.

Closing an old chapter and the start of all embracing content
Let content give the punch in a very small package– and its point of sale become a fusion of efficiency like an Ocado distribution centre, with the engagement and service of an Apple store, and the sheer visual joy of a masterfully curated exhibition.

We read the ‘content store’- one influencing, informing and exciting the consumer- with sales continuing to blossom.