The new Foyles Birmingham store opened today (30th September) featuring audio-visual 'author pods' reading stories to customers.
In a new move for Foyles, the Birmingham Grand Central bookshop, near New Street train station, contains three audio-visual 'author pods' and a children’s 'story pod' where customers can hear and see best-selling writers read their work aloud.
The first authors to feature in the AV pods, designed by Audionation, will be Simon Schama, Neil Oliver and some of the Man Booker Prize shortlisted authors yet to be announced. Children's author Michael Rosen will also be performing some of his new poems in the children’s 'story pod'.
John Browne, finance director and head of real estate at Foyles, said the digital enhancements represent a “new format” for the company which it plans to “develop into further locations,” although it would not confirm any new stores at this time.
To create the feel of a thorough omni-channel experience in store, booksellers will also carry handheld tablets, running a new in-store Foyles web platform.
All staff will carry iPads to help them handle customer enquiries and orders on the go. A spokesperson for Foyles said the platform allowed staff to respond to stock enquiries and order books for customers for delivery straight to their homes.
Browne said: “The store here represents our new format of Foyles stores nationwide ally, which we are planning to develop into further locations. The resurgence of books and the lifestyle nature of our business is a blend that we see has a very positive future."
The new shop is based on the upper concourse of the station next to John Lewis and The White Company and will have a particular emphasis on children’s books.
It is designed by lustedgreen, stocks a range of 15,000 titles and employs 14 expert booksellers under the management of former SuperDry manager Steven Harmon.
Siôn Hamilton, trading director of Foyles, said: “This is 21st century bookselling. We wanted a shop that affords a wide range of options to delight customers however they wish to connect with us. We are using technology to empower our staff, to share their love of books and to provide a more interactive and personal experience for our customers. By enabling booksellers with hand-held digital devices, we also are able to greatly increase the range that we can provide in our smaller stores and to respond better to customer needs.”
The new Foyles Birmingham branch, the second outside London after its Bristol store, also holds an events space accommodating 30-40 people and author Cressida Cowell will open the children’s department on Saturday 17th October.
Simon Heafield, marketing manager at Foyles added: “With Foyles Grand Central Birmingham we've embraced the latest digital technology to bring books to life, and author and readers closer together. We have taken the opportunity to enliven the instore experience by showcasing great books in an exciting new way. All of these technologies can be turned on and off and will be used in a sensitive manner. We are aware that many customers think of bookshops as an oasis of calm and these customers will be just as happy in the shop.”
Foyles Grand Central Birmingham is similar in size and style to existing Foyles branches in Westfield Stratford City, London Waterloo Station and Royal Festival Hall, also designed by lustedgreen.
Pictures: Jas Sansi