In the midst of the pandemic, the future for the industry has not been so bright in over a decade.
Hybrid bookstores refers to benefit from lower thresholds to access to customers digitally than before.
European regulation should ensure a fair level playing field, referring to the advantages that big platforms.
One of the sessions of Readmagine 21 was devoted to the bookshops under the title of «The hybrid bookshop», focused on presenting the challenges of the book outlets within the pandemic crisis and the new models to compete with the big platforms. Enrique Pascual, Director of Marcial Pons booksellers and President of the Madrid Bookseller Association, moderated the session with the participation of Fabian Paagman, Director-owner of Paagman Bookshops and co-president of the European and International Booksellers Federation and Alberto Rivolta, Chief Executive Officer retail and COO Feltrinelli Group.
The presentation by Paagman had the title of «Bookselling in the pandemic: threats & opportunities». The Paagman bookstores are independent booksellers in four locations with a turnover of 15 millions (30% online sales).
During his presentation he talked about four different issues: the impact of the Covid-19 crisis upon the brick and mortar bookstores in Europe, the idea of Hybrid bookshops by integrating the print books and digital strategies into the B&M shop, the lobby and policymaking in Europe and the present trends in bookshops.
After a general overview of the impact of Corona crisis in the world bookshops stage he referred to the effects in Europe: as the city centres & and the tourist locations became deserted there were big losses in the high traffic areas and a big boost to the on-line sales with a 90% of market share during lockdowns, but also a customer trend of buy local.
The principles that are underneath of the concept of «Hybrid bookstore» were synthesized by the concept: Bookstore as candy store, combining «great places to meet and to find what you are looking for and what you weren’t looking for (serendipity)», but also are cultural local hubs were to meet authors and sharing the joy of literature and contributing to a better society by using inspiring places and digital media.
On this matter he added that during the next stages of the Corona crisis «with bookstores remaining open, more books are to be sold and read: the future for the industry has not been so bright in over a decade. And we do not have to conquer space to prove that». The idea of hybrid bookstores refers to trying to benefit from lower thresholds to access to customers / readers digitally than before and taking advantage of the overall digitization that is becoming more accessible for entrepreneurs as well as readers.
In a nutshell, a bookstore could be conceived as a third place, a sort of the «living room of your local community» where to find inspiration, serendipity, meeting each other and authors, some time for digital detox in a fully connected fashion.
From the perspective of the political ground he insisted on the need of European and national policies to ensure a fair level playing field, referring to the advantages that big platforms could enjoy for regulatory reasons. Moreover, he supported a new Digital Services Act and a Digital Markets Act to promote interoperability and identifying gatekeepers. Legislation is key to ensure the entire European ecosystem «can participate in de technological developments and developing demands of our readers, to ensure cultural and commercial diversity for buyers and readers».
Director-owner of family business Paagman bookshops: 4 stores in The Hague and surroundings (Netherlands). A fifth store will be added in April 2022. Together with his sister, he is the third generation to manage this completely independent family business with approximately 130 employees.
In addition, since 2012 Fabian is executive-committee member of the European and International Booksellers Federation (EIBF) and since 2014 involved in the position of co-president. Through its member associations, EIBF speaks on behalf of more than 25,000 individual booksellers. In this capacity, EIBF is the legitimate voice of booksellers in Europe and worldwide.