Neil Van Uum of Joseph-Beth Booksellers admits to the Cincinnati Enquirer that the bookstore group has not turned a profit for a decade. “It’s been a bloodbath for 10 years,” he says. “But we’re finally seeing an opportunity to gain market share.” Group sales have been flat, at $45 million annually, since 2005. But Van Uum expects growth of 8 or 9 percent this year, driven by additions to the group.
With seven stores in five states, Joseph-Beth just opened a hospital gift shop at the Cleveland Clinic under the banner of their new Joseph-Beth Wellness Retail division, and they will open a new 30,000-square-foot bookstore in Fredericksburg, VA in April.
They note “Van Uum’s rule of thumb is the longer you can keep someone in a bookstore, the more likely he or she is to spend money there… For each store, he’s hired two marketing and events coordinators to create a yearlong calendar of book signings, orchestra performances, photography shows and craft workshops.” And they have their own “rewards” program for customers.
Newsweek looks at three art book publishers which have joined peers like Rizzoli that are “borrowing the retail tactics of the luxury-goods trade and opening high-end monobrand stores.”
Phaidon has four bookstores now, including one in Soho. CEO Richard Schlagman says “it was not something that we were desperately keen to do, but we are enjoying it. We are getting very good reactions and people are enjoying seeing the whole collection together; we do a lot to make our books very desirable, and a lot of that is lost with chain-store groups.”
Taschen’s stores comprise “only a few percent of our sales” according to Benedikt Taschen, “but we are certainly planning to open new ones.” The next store opens in Miami in the spring.
Prosper Assouline will open his company’s next book boutique in Las Vegas, located “between Cartier and Van Cleef.” Existing boutiques are in such locations as the Plaza Hotel and Sotheby’s, and inside department stores such as Saks, Bloomingdale’s, and soon in Harvey Nichols. “The idea is to showcase a life of European savoir-faire, of which a good library is only a component…. ‘It is very warm like an apartment, and you have some couches, beautiful music, beautiful smells; you want to stay. It is an experience.'”
In other bookstore news, The Book Stall in Aiken, SC closed at the end of the year after three years in business.