BOOKSTORES MAY BE DYING BUT FASHION BRANDS ARE GIVING THEM NEW LIFE

  ©Warby Parker

©Warby Parker

The future of brick-and-mortar bookstores has been in peril for at least a decade. But whether you are actually shopping for a book or not, you might actually find yourself wandering into a bookstore by accident. Fashion brands, from French icon Sonia Rykiel to New York City-based Warby Parker, or concept stores like Colette and 10 Corso Como are curating books not as objects to read but as objects of décor.

The past 12 months have confirmed that in the age of Amazon Prime shipping, retail real estate is not doing well. That’s why beauty startup Glossier, one of the most buzzy e-commerce companies, opened a concept shop, dubbed an “offline experience,” in November 2017, and Everlane, which pledged to never open a physical store in 2012, just opened a New York City flagship. Brick-and-mortar shops are data troves for brands to gain insight on exactly how customers interact with the products. And a good book will keep a customer in the store for longer. So, it makes sense that books, which is still seen a the original immersive “offline experience”, are the hottest accessories to fashion brands these days.

At Club Monaco’s New York City Fifth Avenue flagship, you will find a flower shop (Putnam & Putnam), a coffee shop (Toby’s Estate), and a bookstore (Strand). “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. “You can have a cup of coffee or sit in the library and read a great book that is relevant to the Flatiron district.” The Strand bookstore is a New York City cultural institution with which any brand looking to succeed in the city would be lucky to partner.

Warby Parker knows that you cannot read a book without good eyesight, so in November 2017, the chosen eyewear brand for writers and those who want to look like writers, opened up two new stores in New York City. Both of these locations prominently feature books as décor and for sale. The brand itself has a literary heritage, as the name comes from two Jack Kerouac lesser-known characters, Warby Pepper and Zagg Parker. Every new employee gets a copy of Kerouac’s novel, Dharma Bums, as a welcome gift. And since Warby Parker opened its first flagship store in New York City, you can ask for in-store book recommendation as easily as you can ask for eyewear consultations.