Triple whammy forces indie bookshops to close

A number of independent bookshops are to close in the first quarter of 2013 ahead of the business rates rise in April, with the owners blaming increasing overheads, online competition and lack of customers.

In total The Bookseller has discovered that 11 independent bookshops will either close, move online or sell-up, with the news coming in the wake of Foyles c.e.o. Sam Husain's open letter to The Bookseller last week, where he called on publishers to support bricks-and-mortar booksellers more by giving them a level playing field with supermarkets and Amazon on terms, or risk them facing the same fate as HMV.

The Dover Bookshop in Covent Garden, London, will close in March after 27 years; Bolingbroke Bookshop in Battersea will shut after 30 years; Leicestershire's Melton Bookshop, open from 1975, will not renew its lease; and the Loch Croispol Bookshop in Scotland is trying to sell. Moseley Bookshop Books Bought and Sold will go entirely online later this month and The Lexis Nexis bookshop in Chancery Lane has recently shut. St Andrews Christian bookshops has shut stores in Shirley and Bury St Edmunds recently; and Beulah Books in Aberdare and Jubilante in Stratford-upon-Avon have also announced they will close in the next few weeks.

Michael Gibbs of Bolingbroke Bookshop said that rates were "the big thing". In 2009, Gibbs paid £3,600 in business rates but now the bill is £15,000. Rates are due to rise by 2.6% in April. In The Bookseller last week, Waterstones m.d. James Daunt said rates were an additional tax on high street shops that was "disproportionately high".

Gibbs said that publishers could help by extending payment terms. "I have had a problem with the large publishers mainly because I haven’t always been able to pay in time," he said. "If they had lengthened the terms just a little bit I would have always been able to pay them, but the way they operate is so wooden."