International Update: Best German Bookstores, Borders 'More than Holding Its Own' in UAE

Buchhandlung Mahr, Langenau; Die Andere Buchhandlung, Rostock; and Müller & Böhm, Dusseldorf, were the top three winners of the German Bookstore Prize. Altogether 118 stores were honored and received a total of €850,000 (about $1 million). The top winners receive €25,000 (about $29,650) each.

The prize presentation was made by German Culture Minister Monika Grütters, who noted, according to Buchreport, that the pandemic has severely challenged booksellers who "nonetheless have helped us through the crisis with their competence, their selections and their counsel."

She added that besides the annual German Bookstore Prize, federal support for bookstores includes €29 million ($34.4 million) from the Neustart Kultur program and a further €10 million ($11.9 million) that will come from a new program as "recognition grants for bookstores."


Borders at Ibn Battuta Mall in Dubai.

More than a decade after the parent company of Borders filed for bankruptcy in the U.S., the bookstore chain "is more than holding its own in the UAE and other Gulf markets. And Borders remains a core part of the Al Maya Group's portfolio, which is otherwise dominated by its supermarket chain and foodstuffs trading," Gulf News reported. 

"In today's times, and especially with Covid-19, people need an escape," said Vivek Bahirwani, the group director overseeing Borders operations. "What better way to escape reality than to read and travel through authors' words and views. Bookstores allow individuals to be transported into different worlds when an escape from day-to-day life is required."

When Al Maya Group acquired the full regional rights, the company did not consider dropping the Borders branding. "The name was already an established name in the minds of our consumers--a change of name would have required a lot more than just rebranding," said Bahirwani. "The rights for Borders was bought in 2006 when the first store was opened in Mall of the Emirates. We have the lifetime rights." 

Al Maya Group negotiated with the new owner in 2015 to acquire lifetime rights to Borders in the Middle East. "From being in a category that was supposedly going extinct, Borders in the UAE and the Gulf keeps stretching the possibilities," Gulf News wrote. 


French bookshops are celebrating 40 years since the fixed book price law was established in the country. To mark this milestone, the French Independent Booksellers Association (Syndicat de la librairie française) "launched a summer campaign aiming to raise awareness and celebrate the single cost of books everywhere," the European & International Booksellers Federation's NewsFlash reported. "Under a slogan 'no, a book does not cost more in a bookstore--but the purchase has more value,' the campaign looks to also educate consumers on the experience of independent bookstores and the virtuous consequences of shopping there."


In the U.K., the Bookseller has named its 2021 Rising Stars, the annual list of "the book trade's up-and-comers and leaders of the future--and the second list unveiled in the shadow of the pandemic." Phoebe Morgan, editorial director, HarperFiction, is this year's Shooting Star, a member of the Rising Stars list the Bookseller chooses "to give that extra bit of recognition."

A clear trend for this year's group "is that they have been tested by the coronavirus, but emerged all the stronger for it," the Bookseller noted. "Another thread is that in the interviews with the Rising Stars, so many told stories of difficulties in cracking into the trade....

"These stories, particularly from the Stars who are from working-class, Black, Asian or minority ethnic backgrounds, are not rare. Almost every one of them related a similar tale. Now, of course, getting into the business should be rigorous. But at a time when the industry is meant to be reaching out wider in its recruitment, it seems some systemic roadblocks are still in place, even for some of the most talented people.... Still, maybe that is why this list has a particularly DIY feel to it, with many entrants seeing something that doesn't exist, or needs changing, and going on to create it themselves."


Kinsale Bookshop in Kinsale, Ireland, whose customers have included Michael Jackson and former U.S. President Bill Clinton, is closing after 33 years in business, the Irish Independent reported. Owner Liam Barrett, who is retiring at the age of 77, opened the shop in 1988 and saw it as a way to combine his hobby with a business opportunity: "There was no bookshop in Kinsale at the time and I had a serious interest in literature, reading and the fun of running a bookshop." 

Barrett observed: "We had wonderful support from the local community. A bookshop like that being at the center of the community is a little bit like the local pub, you meet everybody coming and going and everybody chats, there's no moments of silence in a bookshop. People were always friendly and talked about their interests and what they read." --Robert Gray

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