Once upon a time, Foyles was listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s largest bookstore because of its 30 miles of shelf space and the number of titles on display. In an effort to regain its former glory, the store, founded in London in 1903 by William and Gilbert Foyle, conducted a pair of workshops to discuss a move planned for 2014, what the new store should look like, and what the nature of the bookstore should be going forward.
The assembly of authors, poets, literary agents, booksellers, sales directors, technology developers, and librarians came up with plenty of ideas, such as the store providing bibliotherapy, which, when combined with writing therapy, has shown potential as treatment for depression. Other suggestions included providing personal shopping, membership clubs, writers in residences, listening ports for audiobooks, and services that would make the bookstore a social experience.
“Bookshops are often seen as old-fashioned, but these workshops give books a chance to be at the center of the conversation,” said Phil Jones, a blogger for The Bookseller, for an article in the The Telegraph.
“It was a fantastic project for us—after all, this is a chance to work on the most famous bookshop in the world,” said Alex Lifschutz, the architect designing the new Foyles location. “How many times in our life will we witness the rebirth of the bookshop?”
Such a workshop—with participants from faculty, staff, the community, and the student body—could be a catalyst for similar ideas and discussion in the college store.