Leisure Bookstore: A 12-year independent bookstore faces the end
Leisure Bookstore shuts down after 12 years of great service to comic book fanatics.
Situated in the Guangdong Province of China, Leisure Bookstore is a small, independent bookshop which has been in operation for the past 12 years, selling comic books to its loyal customers.
Elle Ye is the owner and the sole employee of the bookstore. Regardless of the weather, she is scheduled to open the doors of her bookshop every day at 11am until 10pm. However, methods of user consumption have changed over time, as people now prefer to buy their books online rather than from the shelf which has put Ms. Ye and her little bookstore in a difficult position.
“Every kid likes cartoon. Every generation likes comics and comic books.” Ms. Ye says.
Situated in a school district, Leisure Bookstore is one of the oldest individual bookstores in that community. Most of Ms. Ye’s customers have been students from kindergarten to college. In the past 12-years, Leisure Bookstore had become an integral part of the community.
Before she started her own business, Ms. Ye used to work part-time in a different comic book store. Despite having no prior interest in comic books, her brother had recommended one to her, and she ultimately decided to open up her own comic book shop.
Within the first few years of opening, she earned a profit from the bookstore. Students who lived at home came every day, and students who boarded at school came every weekend. Young people who were working also come to buy the comics. Ms. Ye said, “The bookstore could make around 100,000 yuan per year.”
As the business began to falter, the bookshop eventually had to shut down for a year, following a fall in customers visiting the shop and buying comics. According to Ms. Ye, it was considered very normal to have no customers visit the bookstore for a whole day. Ms. Ye emptied out everything on 28 February, 2017 and started to search for someone to take her old shop. After a short break from comics and books Ms Ye hopes to reopen the bookstore online: “It is really sad to say goodbye to a 12-year-long memory.”
“The bookstore is more like a space storing everyone’s childhood than only a place for earning money.” Ms. Ye says.
The support from her loyal customers over the years was enough for Ms. Ye to keep running the store. Many things have happened in this little bookstore over the last 12 years. The stories she has from her shop are wide and varied. Ms. Ye shared one incident when a young man came to buy some magazines with counterfeit money. He insisted that Ms. Ye was the one who had handed over the fake money. The customer’s parents arrived and, believing their son, they ended up censuring Ms. Ye for allegedly changing the real money into fake ones. Fortunately, there were two regular customers in the store who assured that Ms. Ye would not do something like that. Finally, the police came and proved her innocence.
“A good comic book can teach people to be brave, persistent, and be kind,” Ms. Ye says, “that’s probably a reason why people like comics.”
Leisure Bookstore has officially closed and the online bookstore will be coming soon. “Thanks for the support of new and old customers in these 12 years,” Ms. Ye says.
UK independent bookshop situation: the worst is over.
The decline of the independent bookshops is also happening in the UK. According to a survey, the number of UK independent bookshops fell below 1,000 in 2014. There has been a loss of over 500 bookshops over the course of a decade. 67 bookshops closed in 2013, leaving just 987 in the country. The reason for the sharp decrease of bookshops is the hefty discounts offered by e-malls, coupled with bookshops facing expensive rent prices.
However, the worst is over. The decline rate has gradually slowed. The sales of Amazon’s Kindle have fallen in these years. Many entrepreneurs start to fund the bookshop industry. The bookseller editor Philp Jones talked about the “renaissance” in independent bookselling to the Guardian that “Momentum is back on the high street and being led by very well established and very good booksellers who have had to learn the new skills to compete in the market place.”