independent book stores

Bookstores Persevere Throughout the Pandemic

Bookstores around the globe have had to adjust their strategies in order to stay afloat during such uncertain times, and while it's been a sincere trial for everyone, some bookstores are rising from the ashes and growing into even stronger entities because of it. And this success is in large part due to loyal customers and generous support.

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Bookspot of the Week: Buchhandlung Lüders

Welcome back to another Bookspot of the Week, where we connect with outstanding bookstores in order to share their businesses and satisfy your craving for bookstore gems. This week we spoke with Ragna Lüders, the owner of a bookstore in Germany whose shop won the Hamburg Bookstore Prize in 2016, as well as the German Bookstore Prize from 2017 to 2019: Buchhandlung Lüders.

Let’s take a little trip to Hamburg and jump in on all the bookish buzz!

 

IMAGE VIA BUCHHANDLUNG LÜDERS

 

How did your bookstore transition from concept to reality?

My father opened the bookstore almost sixty-five years ago so it has always been a family business and we are proud to still thrive as an independent bookstore.

 

What do you feel is unique to your bookstore?

We offer a carefully curated selection of both new and second-hand books, with more than a few real treasures on our shelves, and our entire team is very passionate about literature. Plus, we use Instagram to share this passion with even more people.

 

If you had infinite space, what might you add to the store?

An even wider range of books about climate change, veganism, feminism and other topics that we feel are the most important in this day and age.

 

IMAGE VIA BUCHHANDLUNG LÜDERS

 

How do you feel your bookstore fits into your local community?

Many of our patrons live right around the corner and come in at least once a week. We’ve known them for a long time, we know their taste in books, and, very often, we have inspiring conversations.

 

What does your store offer that a chain or online retailer can’t?

You enter our bookstore and you are surrounded by books. You can smell the paper, roam the shelves that reach up to the ceiling, leaf through a first edition, a children’s book or the newest novel, and get recommendations from people who are booksellers with heart and soul.

 

Do you hand-pick your staff to create a specific environment?

Absolutely. A passionate interest for literature is important and it is out heart’s desire to create a friendly and happy atmosphere – for us and all the people that are coming to our store. We carefully select our staff to have a great and inspiring time together.

 

IMAGE VIA BUCHHANDLUNG LÜDERS

 

How else do you create a welcoming environment?

We try to give our customers space to browse, but we are friendly and welcoming if support in finding the right book is needed.

 

What about your store do you think appeals to your neighborhood?

We are an active part of our neighborhood as we offer readings, dress the store window with changing themes, and communicate a lot with our customers.

 

Do you have any staff picks or releases we should watch out for?

We do have staff picks. We frequently share them in our Lüders Literatur Leporello and on Instagram.

 

IMAGE VIA BUCHHANDLUNG LÜDERS

 

Do you tailor your inventory according to your community?

Well, our community strongly reflects our own values so it is a great fit. Both in literary tastes and political attitudes.

 

Is there anything else that you’d like our audience to know?

We are very happy, and proud, that we won the Hamburg Bookstore Prize in 2016 and the German Bookstore Prize in 2017, 2018, 2019. We just won the German Book Blog Award, and our Instagram account was named the Best Bookstore Blog of 2020.

Come visit us when you happen to be in town!

 

IMAGE VIA BUCHHANDLUNG LÜDERS

 

FEATURE IMAGE VIA BUCHHANDLUNG LÜDERS

Bookspot of the Week: Libreria

It’s Bookspot time! Welcome back to bookspot of the week, where we have a chance to speak with amazing bookstores to quite frankly show them off. And if you didn’t know about them, now you do! This week we spoke with Lloyd Sowerbutts, the manager of a bookshop in London called, Libreria, it can be found at 65 Hanbury Street, London, E1 5JP.

 

Image via Libreria

 

How did your bookstore transition from concept to reality?

Libreria was conceived as a way for customers to discover new voices and ideas, which wouldn’t be easy in a conventionally merchandised bookshop, or internet retailer’s algorithm. Libreria’s books are grouped according to broad themes, such as: Wanderlust, Enchantment for the Disenchanted and Utopia.

 

What do you feel is unique to your bookstore?

 I feel that our thematic grouping of titles and the shop’s interior are the most obviously unique qualities.

 

If you had infinite space, what might you add to the store? A ‘speakeasy’ cocktail bar and reading space. 

 

Image via Libreria

 

How do you feel your bookstore fits into your local community?

Pre-lockdown, Libreria would host Language Labs, a programme conceived by a former colleague Gabi Spangenthal, which would offer a space for members of Second Home and other volunteers to offer local migrants a space to practice English that was formally taught by ELATT.

 

What does your store offer that a chain or online retailer can’t?

Libreria is designed to maximise the serendipitous discovery of new books and ideas. 

 

Do you hand-pick your staff to create a specific environment?

 Not particularly. I assume a love of books from all applicants, so I look for skills that would complement the existing team’s strengths and will help the shop grow into a space our customers cherish.

 

Image via Libreria

 

How else do you create a welcoming environment?

 I like to welcome our customers to the shop, as they are the lifeblood of the shop. We are happy to order books that we don’t currently have in stock. Ultimately, nothing should ever be a problem to solve. 

 

What about your store do you think appeals to your neighborhood?

I believe the shop’s beauty makes it a destination for many of our customers. Our social initiatives and event programme offer a different quality to other bookshops.

 

Do you have any staff picks or releases we should watch out for?

We are always talking about books that excite us via our Instagram and newsletter channels. Customers can sign up to our newsletter, via www.libreria.io

 

Image via Libreria

 

Do you tailor your inventory according to your community?

Absolutely! Each month, the team selects the books that we believe will appeal to the many tastes and interests of our customers.

 

What’s your favorite book?

This is a tough one. I have never been able to whittle it to a single book. I’m curious by nature, so my favourite books reflect this. If I was forced to pick a few, they would be: The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert, Lost Japan by Alex Kerr, The Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break by Steven Sherrill and The Black Tulip by Alexandre Dumas. 

 

Image via Libreria
Feature Image via Libreria