Are Seasonal “Pop-up” Bookstores the Answer to Sluggish Sales?

In Discussion by Edward Nawotka


By Edward Nawotka

Today’s lead story profiles Berlin’s Dialogue Books, an English-language bookstore that was open for just six months — and then moved online. In the story bookseller Sharmaine Lovegrove describes the store as a “pop-up” bookstore.

Opening short run, pop-up retail locations is increasingly trendy. You tend to hear of them “popping up” around specific events, such as the clothing brands that open small boutiques during New York Fashion Week or the seasonal-specific stores that WIRED magazine and Target open in New York City during the holidays.

Could the same model be effective in selling books?

Calendar Club (the company that also now operates Kirkus Reviews) opens 1,000 stores in malls each holiday season specifically to sell calendars. It’s a logical business decision, since calendars are only truly in demand for a short window at the end of the year and the beginning of the next.

In bookselling, the holiday season often represents as much as 25% and sometimes more of a typical bookstores annual sales. Could you then argue that some opportunistic entrepreneur could take advantage of this demand to open quirky or interesting “pop-up” bookstores to help sell the year’s hottest and most in-demand titles? There would be distinct advantages for last minute shoppers — no worrying about if Auntie May’s package will arrive on time — and it might entice non-traditional book buyers to browse.

Let us know what you think in the comments.

About the Author

Edward Nawotka

A widely published critic and essayist, Edward Nawotka serves as a speaker, educator and consultant for institutions and businesses involved in the global publishing and content industries. He was also editor-in-chief of Publishing Perspectives since the launch of the publication in 2009 until January 2016.