Jeongyun and friends were on the final leg of a European research trip into "The Revival of the Book Store" when they came on a Bluestocking Books tour in August. I'd been making plans with the group since March, when they entered a competition to win University support for their travel.
A research group from Duksung Women's University in South Korea, the students were interested in exploring small specialised bookshops, and were delighted to do so in the Shoreditch and Brick Lane area. Many of their questions for the booksellers were about pricing, book displays and merchandising. The booksellers were very kind, answering questions thoughtfully.
Just before the tour they'd been in Paris, where they learnt about French government support for small bookshops. Their foremost question was "how do small bookshops thrive in the UK?"
A few "x" factors were obvious:
booksellers who love books and are involved with them
magically appealing shops, varied in design
salesmanship of a distinctly low key British variety
willingness to stay the course with the customers
It was a great group - walking quickly in-between torrential downpours, in good humour and interested throughout. I hope to read their report and am keen to learn how South Korean bookshops compare to ours. Maybe someone wants to sponsor a study tour?
(photo credit Eunseo C., taken in Caravanserail bookshop)