I was very sad to hear the news today, from Emma Darwin, that the Pan Bookshop, the shop I worked at in London, is to close its doors in January, as reported in The Bookseller. This shop shaped much of who I am today. I wrote a blog post about my time there, but as it has just been picked up by a magazine (made of real paper!) I have taken it down. I will keep readers informed of when it will be published. It is a sad state of affairs indeed to see good independent bookstores shutting down in the face of too much stiff competition from the big chains. I pray that it doesn't happen here in New Zealand.
I remember when the net book agreement was scrapped in the UK - I was working at the bookshop at the time. The agreement meant that all bookstores had to sell books at the recommended retail price, which meant the tiny shops were selling them at the same price as the big shops. At the time, June Formby, then manager of the shop, predicted that the end of the agreement would spell the end, eventually, of the shop, and maybe she was right. Because chains like Waterstones would buy in huge quantities, they demanded huge discounts from publishers and were able to sell them to customers for a much lower price. This was great for the book-buying public on one level, obviously, but shops like the Pan Bookshop couldn't compete with that as they were buying books in much smaller quantities, thereby not getting the discounts. In the long run it is bad for the book-buying public (not to mention the authors, but that's another post!) because they lose shops like the Pan Bookshop, staffed with passionate, enthusiastic, and most importantly, knowledgeable people who know the stock inside out and can recommend a book to anyone.
So Rest in Peace, and I hope you all find nice jobs to go to.
Emma left this note on the other Pan Bookshop post that isn't there anymore, so I leave it here: "Oh, this rang so many memories. Pan were the bookshop of my childhood - I grew up a few streets away. My agency lives in the ex-Pan offices above, so it's a nice nostalgia trip to go there. And now they're finally being closed down. See here. Someone on the comments is suggesting a management buyout - here's hoping...Emma"