Stats counting the number of independent book shops operating in the UK show something odd. They show that there are more independent book shops in the UK now than there were a year ago, despite the mainstream media telling us repeatedly that the high street is dead.
When we say more, though, it's not exactly a massive shift. The numbers from the Booksellers Association show that it had 15 more independent book sellers listed as members in 2018 than it did in 2017, thanks in part to new ultra-niche specialist shops that helped increase the number of registered indie sellers to 883. That's the second yearly rise, with 2017 seeing one new shop join 2016's all-time low of 867, as, despite everything, we will always need books to pretend to have read and to fill up shelves.
Also, they're cheaper places to hang out in than coffee shops, as you don't have to buy any coffee. You can stand around pretending you're thinking about buying a book or looking really hard for something specific to your interests, when all you're actually doing is delaying going home.
More could be done to help book shops survive the hostile high street environment, though, with the BA's Meryl Halls saying: "Bookshops (especially our larger members) continue to experience unequal business rates, and struggle alongside wider retail with unfair competition from online retailers, as well as post-Brexit uncertainty. In light of this, we ask the Government to take the steps needed to protect the future of bookshops and their high streets, considering the concerns of retailers and booksellers so they can both flourish." [The Bookseller]
Image credit: Unsplash