Park life

<p>Last weekend I visited Halfords to get some cycle racks fitted to my car (I know, an environmental oxymoron). While the bewildered assistant took an hour to fit them (&quot;sorry, these are the first ones I've done&quot;), I drank in a whole new retail vibe. Canterbury's burgeoning Maybrook Retail Park boasts a JJB Fitness Suite, Tesco, a Stormfront, PC World, B&amp;Q and KFC. My memory of the Seventies being a bit hazy, I blundered into the latter eatery and asked for a veggie meal. Laura (her badge told me) patiently said, in Catherine Tate tones: &quot;Do you know what KFC stands for though?&quot;</p>
<p>Waterstone's, Borders and W H Smith should be able to open in Britain's Maybrooks. The car park was impossibly wealthy and glamorous: someone turned on his &shy;Porsche engine remotely with his key fob. It was &quot;The Fast and Furious&quot; meets &quot;Mad Max&quot;. This is where the money is in downturn Britain, but we booksellers are too busy hunting ABC1s in battered R-reg Renault Lagunas to see it. Our &quot;core customers&quot; are typified by grumpy old novelist Hilary Mantel, bleating in the <i>Guardian </i>recently about how awful modern bookshops are. I suspect she defected to Amazon years ago, like most mourners of Ye Olde Bookshoppe. </p>
<p>So, in the light of the National Year of Reading survey showing that many moneyed Britons think reading is poncy and anti-social, we booksellers need to transform our attitudes, for these bookshop refuseniks are not thick: they are smart enough to get rich, and the films they watch, &quot;X-Men&quot;, &quot;Twilight&quot;, &quot;Troy&quot;, &quot;Hannibal&quot; and &quot;James Bond&quot;, are all based on addictive books.</p>
<p>Here's my recipe for a Maybrook bookshop:</p>
<p>1 accessible shelves. Kids hate top shelves, older people ignore bottom shelves. Bookshops still emulate home bookcases.</p>
<p>2 Booksellers as available and free of other tasks as Apple Store staff are.</p>
<p>3 Exciting windows (most booksellers are too wordy to do these).</p>
<p>4 A distinctive inhouse caf&eacute;(as offered by Ikea).</p>
<p>5 Big, clean toilets, fully parent-friendly.</p>
<p>6 No boring sections.</p>
<p>7 A non-British attitude to customer orders. They are 5% of our trade, but are often treated as inconveniences. Local home delivery by bicycle courier, and, following Waitrose's brave lead, at no extra charge.</p>
<p>8 Soft carpet, soft lighting and soft seating.</p>
<p>9 Daily events.</p>
<p>10 Kids' play area.</p>
<p>Drive-by Britain deserves more than a few book aisles in Asda or Tesco: it deserves real booksellers.<br />
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