Time running out for popular Sheffield bookshop

A popular bookshop in Sheffield is to shut permanently unless its owner can find new premises.

Wednesday, 10th January 2018, 2:52 pm
Updated Wednesday, 10th January 2018, 8:20 pm
David Granville at Books on the Park. Picture: David Bocking

Books on the Park, on Ecclesall Road, faces closure by May with high rents, the effect of internet sales and the reign of charity shops blamed for the decision.

The shop, which deals primarily in second-hand editions, has traded in various locations opposite Endcliffe Park over the past 15 years. But owner David Granville said that, despite customers' loyalty, 'the figures no longer stack up in any meaningful way'.

Books on the Park, on Ecclesall Road, is to close by May if new, affordable premises cannot be found.

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"Our current lease is at an end and attempts to find suitable and affordable new premises have so far drawn a blank," said David.

"We had been hoping to relocate to Kelham Island but rents there are just as high as where we are on Ecclesall Road."

Recent figures from the Booksellers Association offered hope that the sector had turned a corner, as in 2017 the number of shops not part of a big national chain increased, rather than declined, in the UK and Ireland for the first time since 1995.

However, David said the report only covered independent shops selling new books, and for the rest 'the struggle to keep heads above water continues'.

Books on the Park, on Ecclesall Road, is to close by May if new, affordable premises cannot be found.

"Selling on the internet has definitely helped Books on the Park over the years but this has become a game of diminishing returns. Increased online competition has forced many prices down to rock bottom while increases in online selling fees and an increasingly difficult environment for small sellers have had a negative impact.

"Other significant factors include the professionalisation of certain major charity shops - Oxfam is, officially, the biggest second-hand bookseller in Britain; business rates for low-profit operations; uncertainties about the economy as a whole and, significantly, the absence, city council or otherwise, of any overarching strategy for encouraging independents and maintaining retail diversity in Sheffield."

However, buyers are still committed to purchasing printed books, he said. "Surprisingly E-books have, in my experience, had minimal impact on second-hand shops."

David added: "While high rents are probably the most important, no one factor alone is responsible for the problems that independents face. However, together they can, as we have found, add up to something of a perfect storm."

Books on the Park will be trading as normal 'until around the end of April, with lots of bargains to be had from the end of January'. Regulars are being urged to pay a final visit.

David said he would be 'sad to have to call it a day' - but, in the meantime, he will try to live up to listings website Our Favourite Places' description of him as the city's jolliest bookseller.

Last July another well-known second-hand bookshop, Rare & Racy, closed on Devonshire Street in the city centre after 50 years as it was earmarked for demolition. And elsewhere on Ecclesall Road, Napoleons is to shut its Ecclesall Road casino amid claims from boss Dave Allen that the street is 'not what it used to be'.