A Quartzy article reported on how retailers are “curating books not as objects to read but as objects of decor.”
If you’re an avid reader, the line “curating books not as objects to read but as objects of decor” might make you want to cry a little bit. That, however, might be the very thing bringing new life to bookstores, according to Noël Duan’s Quartzy article, “Bookstores May Be Dying, But Fashion Brands Are Giving Them New Life.”
Retail real estate, as many stories have reported, isn’t doing well these days, which is why more and more stores are going for highly curated “experiences” — with an extra focus on their flagships — feeling either like a visit to the future (Glossier) or a step back in time to a Parisian café, like Sonia Rykiel’s Left Bank flagship. Books, particularly stylish coffee table books, are part of the experience. “We need the history as much as we need the fashion,” Sonia Rykiel’s artistic director, Julie de Libran, explained to Quartzy.
The story also references Club Monaco’s Fifth Avenue flagship, which has a Putnam & Putnam flower shop, a Toby’s Estate coffee shop, and a Strand bookstore outpost. “We wanted to create a space where you don’t just come to buy a sweater, but are getting an education on art and culture,” Allison Greenberg, director of marketing and communications, told the New York Times in 2013.
Seeming literary is also a big part of the all-encompassing cultured lifestyle experience companies want to provide. Warby Parker, for instance, goes beyond selling books (which they do) to also giving each new employee a copy of Jack Kerouac’s Dharma Bums as a welcome gift. Maybe, just maybe, there is hope for books — actual, physical books — yet.