Book lover for life
It was Gregory Adams’ love for reading and his wanting to do something different that led to opening The Book Den 24 years ago.
And although he is seeing fewer customers these days he is not quite ready to close this chapter of his life.
With the advent of e-books and Kindles, there has been a sharp and steady decline in the number of people buying paperbacks, which has seen the closure of bookstores worldwide. It is a situation that has resulted in fewer sales for bookstore owners like Adams.
“The electronic book has made a tremendous difference, so the loyal customers tend to be the older ones who having grown up reading books have resisted making the switch to electronic ones. That’s basically the story over the last four or five years or maybe a bit more,” he said.
“I sell books, magazines, comics, they’re all used, nothing really new. I also sell LP (vinyl) records,” Adams told BARBADOS BUSINESS AUTHORITY.
He has hundreds and hundreds of books in genres such as crime, western, suspense, legal, do-it-yourself guides, paranormal – but it was the purchase of romance novels which accounted for as much as 85 per cent of his sales.
“Some young women would buy [romance novels]. I don’t know where they would get the money from but they would spend a heck of a lot of money in romance novels,” he said, chuckling.
The businessman does not mean Mills and Boons or Harlequin either; he is speaking about those that have 350 pages. The men, he noted, usually opted for adventure stories, westerns and non-fiction.
“I had some very busy years, about 15 years ago. I took a while to build up the business, as you would expect, then it started doing very well for a while. It got so busy there was a time I just handed it over [leased] to somebody else because I wanted a break. Seven, eight years ago it wasn’t so bad but the last five or six years have been really, really affected by the electronic books.
He added: “I’ve contemplated closing where I am here in 9th Avenue Belleville…and I might do so in another couple of months but the other branch at Worthing does better, particularly at this time of the year when we have tourists around.”
He opened the “small” Christ Church branch seven years ago when he took a break to recharge from his six days a week, 16 consecutive yeras without holiday, “non stop” schedule and has not regretted it.
“Now that is the main branch. Having moved back here in Belleville just under two years, it has been very, very slow the same way I had my very busy years,” he added.
There was a time people sold their “used” books. However, today several of them are being donated to the store.
“There are some charities which accept books. like The Ark [Animal Welfare Society], RSPCA and I can visit them ever so often and get some books. But mainly it is people who just want to get rid of their books for whatever reason,” he noted.
He chooses what he wants because he simply “can’t take them all”.
“I tell everyone – you bring them, I’ll pay you for what I choose. Right now, a lot more people are donating books than before. People are not worrying about the paperback books anymore, so they just seem to be more prepared to give them away; unlike before when they would sell them and use the money to buy some more books. This is happening monthly,” Adams said.
He surmised that the decline in reading among the younger generation could be due in part to the fact that there are “so many more activities to involve themselves in” and therefore “we’re not getting a new generation in readers coming through”.
To counter the downturn in sales, he has lowered the prices on books over the “last couple years”.
“I am also somewhat heartened by the fact that I heard over the news that sale of electronic books was less in 2015 than it was in 2014. The electronic book will always be with us but…after a while they might just drift back to paper books. That’s my hope.”
“It was enjoyable meeting new people and talking about books, which I still enjoy. I’ve had
those very busy years and I’m hoping to just keep something going . . . I’m not in retiring mode at all,” Adams said. (Green Bananas Media)