The Design Failure Of Big Box Book Stores

The Design Failure Of Big Box Book Stores

Monocle's editor Tyler Brûlé describes how considered design can save retail spaces.

Naresh Kumar
  • 25 february 2011

While the popularity of Amazon and e-book readers seem like obvious reasons for more and more book stores and libraries closing up, Monocle’s editor Tyler Brûlé says that the main reason for book stores going out of business is the design (or lack of it) of its shop-floor. Brûlé explains how today’s big-box booksellers have unnecessarily large spaces, are equipped with harsh lighting, have minimal staff with no cozy corners to stop and browse its collection-in effect, the stores are cold and unappealing to people.

Brûlé adds how a perfect bookstore should look like-a small, warm place with an old school ambiance that is manned by a learned staff.

Tyler Brûlé wrote in the Financial Times:

Ask most people to paint a picture of their perfect bookstore and it probably involves a pair of bay windows housing a selection of titles specially selected by the shop’s long-serving staff. Through the front door (complete with a brass bell) there are well-worn harvest tables with stacks of new releases, solid classics, cash-generating genres and obscure but wonderfully readable selections from loyal customers. The oak floors are dark and well worn and they probably creak and sag a little. There’s a wonderful scent of various papers, ink, glue, linen, card-stock and toxic varnishes, and in certain corners of the shop a jazzy tune can be heard through crackly old speakers. Scattered about are armchairs for children to read and pensioners to pause and there are plenty of decently paid staff to advise on cookbooks for the helpless, picture books to calm hyper tots, and travel guides to less-explored corners of Turkey.

The male staff wear cosy cardigans and the women favour loafers, kilts and turtlenecks for an overall effect that says these people look like they know what they’re talking about and therefore I’ll buy whatever they suggest. Perhaps the most important detail is that you can see all the way to the back of the shop from the front door but once inside you discover there are enough cosy nooks and corners to get lost in an absorbing first chapter.

Financial Times: “Perfectly proportioned bookshops”

[via Media Bistro]

Image by MorBCN


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