From Book Business:
I have finally come across the bookstore concept for the future and it’s not coming from Amazon or Barnes & Noble with their cross-channel pipe dreams. It’s Shakespeare and Co., which opened under new ownership in November 2015 and currently operates one store in the Upper East Side of New York, with more planned for the future.
There is one constant across all great retailers and that is their unique ability to instill passion among customers to spend time (and money) with them. They must offer a unique experience. Best Buy accomplished this unique differentiation back when they first brought the excitement of the bumping Consumer Electronics Show into their stores.
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Shakespeare and Co. is owned by Dane Neller, one of the founders of the Espresso Book Machine and former CEO of Dean and DeLuca, an upscale grocery chain founded in New York. What he and his team have done with their bookstore prototype shows they understand the critical importance of building community in achieving retail success — especially in our lonely age of the internet.
The café as you enter feels like a Dean and DeLuca, with lots of great drinks and food. It was packed on the day I visited and Neller told me they typically serve 400 customers a day in the café alone. The coffee is the lure that brings people in. It’s not set off to the side or in the back. It’s facing the street.
Just beyond the café is the core component of this new vision for the bookstore and its unique ability for creating community: the Espresso Book Machine. Unlike most other bookstores featuring a machine, Shakespeare and Co.’s is right in the heart of the store. It draws curiosity because EBMs are one of the few new things happening in book retailing, which on the whole feels stale to me. Customers are drawn to the machine and are able to watch books being printed on demand. EBM-printed books are also on display and interspersed among traditionally published titles on the main bookshelves.
What this says to customers is, your book could be here too. So the shelves are in fact creating new business for the machine and the store. This works well for a local indie bookseller, as a self-published author living nearby could realistically buy and sell ten copies on her own.
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[W]hen I want to grab a great cup of coffee, something fresh and healthy to eat, and hang out with other like-minded book lovers, Shakespeare & Co. is the place to go. (Slogan time?) And if I want to feel the pride that comes with authorship and see my book on actual store shelves, I can now enter that rarified world heretofore preserved mostly for well-known authors.
Link to the rest at Book Business