Eleanor Logan and Chapter Twenty

November 24th, 2011 | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Eleanor Logan and Chapter Twenty
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On Thursday 17th, November the visiting speaker Eleanor Logan gave us an interesting talk about her professional career and the changes that have taken place in bookshops over the years particularly in Scotland.

Eleanor began her career in 1999 at the bookshop chain Dillons and saw firsthand how the majority of these bookshops were taken over by Waterstone’s and some were sold to its competitor Ottakar’s. She went to work for Ottakar’s, which was a small family business and in ten years, was lucky enough to see it grow from three or four shops to more than a hundred. “It was great fun to work with them and see how they grew”. In 2008 Waterstones absorbed Ottakar’s, “my enemy became my employer”. While she worked for Waterstones she did marketing, and retailing. “It was a strange situation, but very interesting and satisfactory since I had the opportunity to discover firsthand what happened in bookstores across the country”.

Early this year she reassessed what she wanted to do with her life and her job and she decided to create her own business: Chapter Twenty is the result – a marketing and events agency delivering innovative services to the book industry, authors and the public. She works with publishers to organise author events in Scotland and the North of England.

With Internet and new technologies people’s way of buying is changing. It is true that customers want value but they also want convenience, which is why Amazon is having such success. Eleanor issued a stark warning that because of these changes 25% of high street bookstores have closed “and with Borders gone, and only Waterstones left, and if this goes too, then we will only have WHSmith!”.

Eleanor has a clear view of how bookshops should work. Bookstores need to improve their image and their brand. For example, window displays should be updated, and events need to change, “we need to make them more interesting and not just about listening to the author”.  The Scotsman Literary Dinners, Book Festivals and World Book Night, all are good ideas to help readers engage with authors.

In Scotland there are vast areas with no bookshops which is why the Ottakar’s store in Oban set up a travelling bookshop. Now it has been taken over by Waterstone’s On Wheels, where they are keen to reconnect with the community.

Image by Weegie Wednesday

By Almu Santalices and Emma Dunn