Waterstones has opened Harpenden Books, the third shop in the company’s portfolio to be named after the town it is based.
The Hertfordshire bookshop opened over the weekend, trading from 1,900 sq ft space over two floors on Harpenden High Street.
It is the third shop Waterstones has opened which does not bear the Waterstones name - in the summer of 2014, Waterstones opened The Southwold Bookshop, the first to take a different name to reflect that it will be “a quintessentially local bookshop” and last summer the company opened The Rye Bookshop in Kent.
A bookselling team of four will run Harpenden Books, headed by manager Ines Freitas, and will offer a wide-range of books with a particular focus on fiction, history and children’s books.
Waterstones managing director James Daunt said: “We are delighted to bring back to Harpenden a proper bookshop. It builds on the great success we have had with Southwold Books in Suffolk and The Rye Bookshop in Kent, towns which had also lost their shops. We are very proud of these local bookshops which, whilst a lot smaller than a standard Waterstones, are exceptionally attractive and well stocked.”
Making a reference to the latest membership figures from the Booksellers Association, which showed that the number of indie bookshops in the UK has almost halved since 2005 to 894, Daunt added: “Over 600 independent bookshops, most in small towns, have closed in the UK in the last 10 years - a calamity we are very pleased to start to reverse.”
Freitas said: “We have been delighted by the enthusiasm and goodwill we’ve already received from the local community for our bookshop. With its elegant design and carefully selected range of books Harpenden Books will be a pleasure to browse and to enjoy with the family."
The opening of The Southwold Bookshop prompted mixed reactions from independent booksellers, with some saying a chain operating under "independent" branding was "subterfuge", while others said it was a "sensible idea".