Wayne Winstone, former head of children's books for Ottakar's and Waterstones and commercial director for the Travelling Book Company, is to launch an independent bookshop in Sherborne, Dorset, next month. Winstone hopes the shop will be the first of several independent booksellers under his ownership.
Winstone aims to expand into other catchments once his business has been running for a year and has another 12 towns in mind, he said. Initially he aims to have two indies up and running within a year, which will be self-financing. He will seek private investment to expand beyond this, depending on the success of the first two stores.
He said that his new venture will aim for a "middle ground" between how independents and the chains operate. "The current economic climate means we have to work very hard to succeed, and to find new ways to operate. I feel there's a market for a hybrid of what the indies are good at, which is hand-selling and tailoring stock to the local market, and what the chains are good at, which includes the use of Epos and having a very commercial outlook to the business."
The bookshop, called Winstone's, is 1,000 sq ft, and will offer a broad range of titles, as well as a coffee shop and regular events. It will include a separate building for artists in residence, local authors and illustrators to hold community--focused workshops.
Winstone added: "The events programme is integral to the business model and the success of the stores. Like all independents, I will be relying on support from publishers to support this by helping make authors available for events."
The store will have a "disproportionate" amount of space (some 25%) dedicated to children's books, said Winstone, and will host other initiatives for children including a children's club with regular events. He believes that schools business will be key for the initiative.
He is confident that the town of Sherborne, whose existing independent bookshop is closing down, can support a new independent bookseller. "If you choose a town that is affluent and has a good schools base, where residents support the local high street and are less web-obsessed than the urban population, independents can be successful."