News

Downer to open new store

Former Borders UK c.e.o. Philip Downer is to open a new store, selling books, gifts and other merchandise, in the spring.

The shop, named Calliope, will be opened in an undisclosed Surrey location for which the lease is currently under negotiation. Downer will run the shop in partnership with former Borders colleague Andy Adamson, who is handling commercial relationships with vendors. A recruitment process has begun for a store manager, with applications welcome.

Conversations with publishers are already underway.

Downer, who announced the venture at a meeting of The Galley Club last night (5th December), said: "We envisage a store and an online offer with a combination of books, gifts and other merchandise. I've been saying for some time that bookshops have to diversity and that being an expert 100% bookshop shows a profound failure to understand how customer expectations have changed. There is an opportunity to sell quality books to a broad consumer audience."

Downer declined to give details on what percentage of his offer would be books, saying the volume and proportion of books within the retail offer would vary "according to season and customer demand". They will, however, all be beautifully produced volumes, books "of quality, inside and out", he promised. "I was a judge in the British Book Design and Production Awards and spent two days looking at these fantastic books and recognising that we have the design and production capability in this country to produce truly beautiful, attractive books. It is interesting the extent to which some of the major publishers is grasping that nettle."

The bookshop will have an "interesting and extensive" but as yet unspecified online offer and will also act as a community resource, Downer said.

The name "Calliope" refers to the music of epic poetry, but Downer said he was more inspired by the old steam organ of the same name towed around the country by horses, the "explosive fairground noises" of which feature on one of the songs on "Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band".

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I was at the talk at the Galley Club last night and asked Philip what percentage of the store's products would be books, to which he replied he'd be surprised if they made up 50% and the rest of the range would be locally sourced, exclusive (where possible) gift items. He's not interested in stocking mainstream, chart titles, but wants to stock beautifully-produced books that you wouldn't necessarily find in a highstreet chain. His obvious passion for the project and his extensive research into finding the perfect location and customer base (he even went so far as to check out the quality of the local schools in the neighbourhood) all point to this being an interesting, well thought out and (I hope) successful new venture. However, in my opinion, any shop that stocks less than 50% books cannot call itself a bookshop. He is opening a gift shop that sells beautiful books as part of it's range. Given how vastly bookshops have increased their non-book offering in the last few years though, perhaps he's on to something here - could this be the model for all future highstreet book presence...

Might as well have called it Oliver Bonas

So this shop is to be run by Philip Downer, Andy Adamson AND a Store Manager! That's a lot of overhead for one shop.

:)

I was at the talk at the Galley Club last night and asked Philip what percentage of the store's products would be books, to which he replied he'd be surprised if they made up 50% and the rest of the range would be locally sourced, exclusive (where possible) gift items. He's not interested in stocking mainstream, chart titles, but wants to stock beautifully-produced books that you wouldn't necessarily find in a highstreet chain. His obvious passion for the project and his extensive research into finding the perfect location and customer base (he even went so far as to check out the quality of the local schools in the neighbourhood) all point to this being an interesting, well thought out and (I hope) successful new venture. However, in my opinion, any shop that stocks less than 50% books cannot call itself a bookshop. He is opening a gift shop that sells beautiful books as part of it's range. Given how vastly bookshops have increased their non-book offering in the last few years though, perhaps he's on to something here - could this be the model for all future highstreet book presence...

Might as well have called it Oliver Bonas

So this shop is to be run by Philip Downer, Andy Adamson AND a Store Manager! That's a lot of overhead for one shop.

:)