Wednesday, 2 May 2012

The Bookshop is Moving

Books Books Books is Moving....I hope you'll come with us!

From Tuesday, 22nd May the bookshop will be at Rue Jean-Louis Gaillard 2. This is located in the Chauderon/Tour section of town, about a 2 minute walk from Holy Cow at Rue des Terreaux. 

Please note that there is parking directly outside the shop. We are still selling literature and non-fiction. We are still doing events. The life of the bookshop continues.

The shop is going to be closed from Thursday, 17th - Monday, 21st May while we make the move (this is the Ascension weekend). Please note that the new shop will be closed every Monday from 28th May until the end of August after which we will resume the normal opening hours. Having worked 6 days a week for 3.5 years I need a break!

In the next three weeks we will be liquidating more stock. We are also giving away 20 small, black 'Billy' bookcases - feel free to drop by the shop if you want to take some away.

Opening Party

Come and celebrate the new shop on the evening of Friday, 25th May. We'll be serving a sophisticated choice of cocktails from 6pm and have invited the bestselling writer Jon Steele to talk about his book The Watchers. Jon earned many awards as a camerman/editor, reporting the news from every corner of the world. In 2008 he lived for three months with an American combat unit, recording their lives for the documentary film, The Baker Boys: Inside the Surge.

He moved to Lausanne where he wrote The Watchers sitting in LP's bar at the Palace hotel and in the bell tower in the cathedral. The book is a gothic thriller and takes place in and around our beloved cathedral. Jon is an interesting guy and an excellent raconteur, particularly after one of my fabled cocktails.

Please sign up for the event here:
I look forward to seeing you at the (new) bookshop soon,


Tuesday, 1 May 2012

The Shop is Moving

There are many reasons to move shop, some large, some small. There are also particular reasons why Books Books Books is moving to Louis-Gaillard. This is going to be a long post, but if you are interested in the shop and the retail market in Lausanne then you may find it interesting.

Something I noticed right away in Lausanne is the large number of shops that never seem to have any customers. 'How can they survive?' I asked myself, 'And why would you bother if you don't make any money?'

Part of the reason for the plethora of idle businesses is the fonds du commerce. Although illegal, this works in the following way. There is a real pressure on downtown retail space. If you have a place you can sell your 'goodwill' to the highest bidder. So, even if you haven't sold a bean for years your rental property is worth something and many people will wait years for the right offer.

This payment is normally dressed up one way or another to circumvent the letter of the law, but if you are looking for a space that is already occupied you should be ready to pay a mimimum of 60K just to get your foot in the door. I have heard of prices as high as 150K for shops as small as 40 m2.

This means that small shops struggle to get a foothold in Lausanne. When they go out of business they are replaced either by large shops who have the required capital to take the slot over, or by businesses with high profit margins, such as opticians and hairdressers.

I have been looking for a new space for the shop for about two years. I have both responded to adverts and sought partnerships with other independents. None of these have come to anything. The search became particularly acute last year when Holmes Place changed management and started to expand. From that moment I knew that I had a tenuous grip on my lease and I had to find a new place sooner rather than later.

I essentially had options on three places. One had a 50k price tag, but was a lovely place. Another was in a partnership with a bookshop, and finally I was also hoping my neighbour might find a place for me in his shop. These places were within a short walk of the current location and for different reasons these leads dried up. It seems that the local commercants are not so commercial after all.

As you know, the book market has also radically changed over the last two years. I estimate that four years ago the online retailers probably held about 80% of the local market. It was a tough environment, but there was enough of the pie left to make a living. E-readers have further expanded the online market share. Whereas before you wanted a book so you decided whether to buy it online or on the high street, now you have an extra choice of downloading it, further shrinking the role of the bookshop. Video did indeed kill the radio star.

Happily for BBB, our sales have expanded every year and 2012 should be no different. However, sales to expatriates, the mainstay of my first year, have shrunk. I was faced with a choice. I could rent an office, work less, earn the same or I could continue in a shop and continue earning the same and work everyday. I chose to keep going.

I still think that bookshops play an important role in the intellectual life of the community. I am still passionate about literature. If I wanted to work in an office I could do that tomorrow and earn more. Ultimately not everything can be measured in a balance sheet.

The new shop is in my neighbourhood and I see it very much as a neighbourhood bookshop. I am also looking to make links with the School of Life or any other organisation that can add to Lausanne's intellectual or cultural enrichment.

Most importantly, though, I will still be selling books, specialising as always in quirky fiction and non-fiction. This is where my passion lies and this is the reason I am still here. My thrill is selling a book I love to a person I like.

There's not much more to add, other than thanks for reading and I hope I'll see you in the new bookshop soon,