What you told us about starting a bookshop on the Northcote Road

“I just love browsing in bookshops – talking to staff and getting ideas about new books to read.”

“Loyalty scheme and presence of a nice café would make me more likely to visit and buy books. Also a good selection of gift-type children’s books.”

“Comfy chairs.”

“I would buy books from it if it was alongside a butchers.”

“I think a community bookshop is a great idea and needs support.”

What would persuade you to buy shares? 

“Sensible price point, credible business plan, sense of being part of a community venture, chance to meet and be involved with likeminded people in the neighbourhood. “

Those are just a few of the comments you made in answering the survey we launched  in August to see what people really think about setting up a bookshop on the Northcote Road.  More than 200 of you responded and confirmed our belief that a bookshop well connected to the community and offering an inviting destination can be successful.  Here are the highlights of what we learned.

Northcote Road is an active retail district:  Nearly a third visit the shops at least weekly and a quarter more than four times a week

This is a community of book buyers:  Half of those responding spend over £100 and a quarter more than £200 a year on books.

Our respondents buy books as gifts as well as books for themselves:  Everyone buys books for themselves; nearly everyone also buys books for their own or other people’s children and 60% buy for other adults.

While paperback fiction is the favourite, children’s books are popular and many buy a wide variety of non-fiction:  Nearly 90% buy paperback fiction and 65% buy children’s books while nearly 50% also buy books about cookery, the arts & gardening; 46% books about travel; and 44% books about history, geography, politics or religion.

Bookbuyers buy their books from many places, including independent bookshops:  rather than being an either/or decision, more than half buy from independent bookshops (and 51% bought from Bolingbroke Bookshop) while also buying online and from high street chains.

Asked if a café would make a bookshop more attractive, the overwhelming response was “yes”: 70% said this would make them likely to visit and to buy books – while underscoring the need for the highest quality, both in the café and the bookshop.

Asked what matters most to them in a bookshop, the answer was that both the books and the place matter:  top priority is a good range of books (76% of respondents), but nearly as important are knowledgeable staff (70%) and an inviting space with the right atmosphere (67%) that offers a place to sit and browse (59%). 

A programme of events at the bookshop is widely supported:  more than half the respondents expressed interest in book launches and talks on specialist subjects, and about half also wanted author signings and children’s events.

Thanks to all of those who responded. Please stay tuned as we move forward in creating a welcoming place for booklovers, with an active programme of events, and shareholder membership open to all.