After 28 long years, award-winning bookstore Wenlock Books is shutting down at the end of the month, citing the lack of interest in high street shops and growing competition with online counterparts, specifically Amazon, as reason.
Wenlock owner and 2006 independent bookseller of the year, Anna Dreda, told The Guardian that she made this decision with a heavy heart as she enjoyed connecting with her customers. However, try as she might, she could no longer keep the bookstore afloat.
“I never came into bookselling thinking I’d make a lot of money [but] the high street has got quieter and quieter and I suddenly realized I just can’t afford to do this anymore. Amazon has been the biggest thing. The number of times people come and look at the book on the shelves and say, ‘I’ll order that on Amazon.’ I’ve heard that over and over again. I have lost so many customers who used to be my bread and butter and I don’t believe people have stopped reading, I just believe they’re buying online and that’s the way it’s gone. And I think that’s the way the high street as a whole has gone.” – Anna Dreda, Owner, Wenlock Books
Established in the town of Shropshire in 1991, Wenlock is not just any bookstore; it’s an institution. That explains why its impending closure saddens many of its longtime customers.
Another iconic bookstore sees the end
Aside from Wenlock Books, another bookstore is closing after 18 years of operations in London. Camden Lock Books, according to its owner, is set to close in July due to several factors such as increasing rent and business rates, major works at Old Street roundabout, and chronic back pain, to name a few.
“It’s not a terribly profitable business, to be honest. There’s been endless upset from customers [at the news]. One was in tears when I told her. It is such a shame.” – Jason Burley, Owner, Camden Lock Books
Meryl Halls, managing director of the Booksellers Association, said the news of two long-serving bookstores shutting down depicts the challenges that high-street booksellers face, and urges the Treasury Select Committee to reform business rates.