The number of bookshops in Britain has halved in the past six years and nearly 600 towns have none at all.
By James Hall
Heavy discounting by supermarkets, the rise of internet retailers and the growing popularity of e-readers such as the Kindle have forced nearly 2,000 bookshops to close since 2005.
There were 2,178 high street bookshops left in Britain in July, according to research carried out by Experian, the data company, compared with 4,000 in 2005. A total of 580 towns do not have a single bookshop.
Campaigners warned yesterday that the loss of bookshops, coupled with threats to close thousands of libraries as part of council cuts, will lead to “book deserts” across large areas of the country.
Tim Godfray, the chief executive of the Booksellers Association, which represents independent bookshops, said: “These are very difficult times for bookselling and high street retailing in general. While the overall picture in terms of the number of independent booksellers in the UK is still one of contraction, we continue to do as much as we can to support booksellers, whose presence on the high street makes such an essential contribution to culture in the UK.”
Small shopkeepers have complained that rising rents and business rates are making it hard to stay in business.