The best bookmongers

During my holidays I have had plenty of opportunities to visit bookshops, and my favourite local library. Searching for a book I wanted to buy at a variety of bookstores, I was struck by the changes that have taken place in marketing, accessibility and presentation of at our best bookmongers.

I catalogue.jpgmust say that in a few of the stores I found myself foundering – where do I find the book? Is it there? Here I was, an information professional, confused and disoriented as I tried to make sense of the layout and organisation of the store!! Needless to say, I didn’t buy anything. Bad luck bookstore.

But in two places (both highly successful and well patronised) I felt at home – and clearly so did everyone else – ages ranging from toddlers to grey-power!

What was the common feature of these two places:

  • visually appealing furniture, layout, and spaces
  • nice displays and signage
  • easy to understand organisation e.g. scifi/fantasy, crime, biography, history, travel, sport
  • no shelf clutter, with attractive jackets on display
  • lots of comfy chairs to sit and browse
  • magazines, dvds, audio books and more
  • a handy computer so that I could carry out a catalogue search to help me find what I wanted – easily with a good human interface, not a “library” interface
  • wireless access
  • my favourite – a great coffee shop!

I love the carpet that’s on the floor and the different places you can settle down and read a book.

I love the use of object architecture to add interest.

Oh, and I’m a regular visitor of the coffee shop in the last picture.

So the two most successful places are Borders book store and my favourite Library, which does have its own fabulous coffee shop – including a super outdoor terrace with water features.

This is interesting don’t you think? It slams home the changes needed in our school libraries quite nicely.

But you know the great thing is that our public and school libraries can offer a lot more than even the best bookshop – loads of extra services, learning support, community support, meeting and study rooms, lots of computers, reference and information services.

Better still, at my favourite library I can scan and issue the books out to myself – sometimes after I have picked out new releases to borrow that I have just read about in the Saturday paper! Good one! Saves me a bomb.

How can a bookstore compete with this service, especially since some of the books I get are ones that I have reserved online at home.

The astounding thing is that its all free!!

First Photo: At Borders
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