Norwich’s independent bookshops get festive boost

David Clarke outside his shop, City Bookshop, which has fared well over the Christmas Period in Davey Place. Picture: Denise Bradley David Clarke outside his shop, City Bookshop, which has fared well over the Christmas Period in Davey Place. Picture: Denise Bradley

Wednesday, January 8, 2014
10:01 AM

Fears that the rise of digital books and e-readers would spark a mass departure from the humble hardback proved ill-founded in Norwich over Christmas after its independent bookshops made record takings.

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Henry Layte of the Book Hive. Picture: Denise BradleyHenry Layte of the Book Hive. Picture: Denise Bradley

The City Bookshop on Davey Place, Jarrold’s book department, and the Book Hive on London Street outperformed last year’s December trading period, as traditional books remained a popular Christmas present.

But each store said it had to offer something different to fight the heavy-weight retailers selling cheap books online – with one shop set to launch its own publishing arm this year.

David Clarke, partner of The City Bookshop, said overall sales for the December period were up 18pc compared to the same month in 2012, while sales over the course of the year improved by 14pc.

But it was the online arm of its business – where he sells rare and local books through Amazon– which saw the most growth, as digital sales soared by 51pc compared to last December.

He said: “There have been a lot of local books published which we sell on Amazon that make us a little bit exclusive. We sold dozens of the University of East Anglia Masterpieces exhibition book because we were the only provider listing them.”

Henry Layte, owner of the Book Hive, said a new in-store scheme offering bespoke book packages – which included sending a specially chosen book to a customer each month– had proved “very popular” and helped them beat last year’s Christmas trading figures. And he also announced that the Bookhive would be launching its own publishing arm to add another dimension to the business.

Meanwhile, Chris Rushby, book buyer at Jarrold, said a decision to sell premium priced classic titles proved popular in December, although the surge in sales did not come until the last Monday before Christmas.

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