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Foyles: The revival of the book


Posted At: 21 January 2015 00:49 AM
Related Categories: Retailers


The decline of the physical book market came at a particularly difficult time when the recession hit, affecting much of the high street. Independent shops, particularly, were badly affected as it coincided with the rise of e-books and devices, such as the Kindle. Since that time, the number of bookshops, both chain and independent, has declined by 9.5%, with approximately 2,547 bookshops currently still trading.

2014 bucked this trend with physical book sales seemingly making a comeback, especially bookseller brand Foyles, as outlined in our Christmas Sales Report. However, this means that e-book sales did not do as well as hoped during 2014’s festive trading period, suggesting the e-book novelty is wearing off. Everyone who wants an e-book now has a solution that suits them, whether they own an actual e-book device, or use an e-reader app on their tablets or mobile devices.

The recession saw consumers become much more cost-savvy, making the most of cheaper digitalised music, films and books. So as we move away from the recession, Christmas 2014 was the chance for consumers to spend more on themselves and their loved ones. We saw a move towards people giving physical, tangible presents at a slightly higher cost, because they were slightly less concerned about money.
As a result, 2014’s festive trading period saw Foyles report an 11% year-on-year growth, reflecting industry trends. Waterstones also reported strong sales figures, up 5% year-on-year.

Foyles’ financials for the end of 2013 were not as positive as hoped for. However, it seems that this financial year is improving, with October sales up 15.4% and 11% in the run up to Christmas (see below).

Foyles Timeline

Foyles, established in 1903 by brothers William and Gilbert Foyle, is an independent book seller dedicated to upholding a cultural pastime on British high streets. Foyles is deeply rooted in literary culture, with many chapters in the brand’s lifetime reflecting the changing face of traditional book selling throughout the decades. 

Today the brand has six outlets (5 in London and 1 in Bristol) which pride themselves on giving customers a traditional book shopping experience with a 21st Century twist. Foyles’ stores have theatres, writer and publishing events and in-store cafes… what more could any passionate reader want! 

To this day, the brand is still independently owned by the Foyle family and has proudly received awards such as Bookseller of the Year, Chain Bookselling Company of the Year, National Bookseller of the Year and Children’s Bookseller of the Year.
With plans to expand, Foyles is clearly confident that the growth of the physical book will continue throughout 2015, with even higher sales to be reported this time next year. However, we need to remember that any sale increases for physical book sellers are on the back of previous severe declines, meaning the market still has much more potential to grow. The physical book and e-book markets are still very competitive and 2015 will be very interesting! 

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The opinions expressed herein are the personal opinion of the author and are not intended as statements of fact and do not represent the view of SnapShop or Pragma in any way.


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