Con los grandes almacenes de libros y las ventas en los supermercados, las librerías pequeñas parecen destinadas a desaparecer. Pero solo "parecen". En un post en el blog de The Guardian, Andrew Stilwell, director de la The London Review Bookshop, celebra los cinco años de su librería y da algunas claves sobre cómo sobrevivir siendo una librería pequeña. Atención a las librerías peruanas: se trata de lograr la fidelidad de sus clientes dándole no solo un ambiente de libros sino de intercambio intelectual.
Each independent has its own survival strategy. Ours has been to stock not just those titles our core customers would expect to find, but to second-guess those customers and offer books to surprise and excite them (what Gabriel Zaid calls "a fortunate encounter"). That in itself is not enough, which is why we set out from the very beginning to establish an involved community, both through participation in events and by opening the London Review Cake Shop, which has become a favourite haunt of writers, journalists, publishers, academics (it helps being in Bloomsbury) and, of course, customers.There has always been a triangulated relationship between authors/agents, publishers and retail booksellers. While the balance of power has shifted more and more to the chain retailer, the independents have struggled, a fact now recognised by the founding of the Faber Alliance and other co-operative groups. Richard Todd's essay Literary Fiction and the Book Trade (in A Concise Companion to Contemporary British Fiction, published by Blackwell) is worth reading for the insight it gives into how independent bookshops can flourish in today's market. More than anything, the LRB shop's defining achievement of the last five years, if I may modestly boast, has been the events programme. It has established the shop as a place where literary and political debate can flourish week after week, with American, European and Arabic writers and commentators, as well as British. We have held over 250 such evenings, and very labour-intensive they are too, each one entailing the removal of all display books and tables to accommodate the chairs (and repositioning them next morning). There are other ways in which we have had to think "outside the box": upgrading our website, where podcasts of the shop's talks will soon be available, growing mail order sales through our seasonal book catalogues, producing a series of signed limited editions and expanding the stock of secondhand books and modern firsts. All these elements amount to a valuable "package" for the committed reader and book-buyer who is simply not being fulfilled by chain stores or internet bookselling.
Cabe anotar que la The London Review Bookshop es una librería que partió de una revista de reseñas de libros. Tenía, pues, un público cautivo ganado. Un público, como se aclara al final del post, que no sólo quiere leer sino que ama al objeto libro. No se admiten e-lectores.