Two independent bookshops are setting up pop-up bookshops in schools, aiming to boost turnover and introduce teenagers to the book industry, as well as encourage a love of reading.
Booka Bookshop, based in Oswestry in Shropshire, is setting up a bookshop with Moreton Hall, a boarding school for girls only a few miles down the road, while Tales on Moon Lane is establishing a similar enterprise at Harris Girls’ Academy in East Dulwich, south-east London. The onus will be on the pupils to run the shops as their own businesses, although Tamara McFarlane [pictured above], owner of Tales on Moon Lane, and Carrie Morris, owner of Booka Bookshop, will meet the students on a monthly basis.
Both pop-up shops were instigated by the schools. Chris Brown, head of English at Harris Girls’ Academy, said he decided to set up a bookshop after a survey of pupils revealed that 70% had not visited a bookshop in the past year. "We approached a couple of larger chains but realised that building a relationship with a local bookseller would enable us to develop our ideas within the community," he said.
The Harris pop-up will be run by a "management group" of pupils, overseen by staff, who will review titles and operate the tills during breaks. They will also organise author events and liaise with publishers’ art departments to create bags and other items that can be sold.
For McFarlane, the initiative will be a "symbiotic partnership". She said: "We had a great time selecting the stock, combining our book knowledge with the wonderfully varied tastes of the students. I will be spending one day a month on site, working with a management group of students on stock, budgets, marketing and event planning.”
The Moreton Hall pop-up will be run by Year 12 pupils, led by project director Harriet Lang (a student at the school), who will choose which books will be stocked on the shop’s Booka-branded shelves.
(From left) Student Harriet Lang, with Carrie Morris and Tim Morris of Booka Bookshop, Oswestry.
Lang said the shop’s aim was to give pupils the opportunity to buy new books but also to experience "the real world of business and bookselling". She said the team would "gain important skills such as choosing the right titles, marketing the business effectively...learning about stock management, costing, cashflow and merchandising”.
At Moreton Hall, books will sell at recommended retail prices, although there will be a number of special offers, to be decided by Morris and the girls. Harris Girls’ Academy will offer pupils vouchers to encourage them to visit the shop.
McFarlane said she has not yet worked out how the partnership will work financially, but Carrie Morris has set a commission for Moreton Hall at 15%. "Should the venture prove successful, there is scope for it to increase. There is no outlay involved for the school in purchasing book stock and therefore no risk on their part."
She added: "If it all goes well we hope to replicate the model in other schools. It’s a great way to teach young people about bookselling and also to expand our business and showcase books to young people in schools."