Sonya Khanna

Business Editor

 

Nestled in the comforts of Westdale, Bryan Prince Bookseller first opened its doors to the public almost 23 years ago with a passion for literary works and an itch to spread its love of all things bookworm inspired.

The modern demeanor of the store is masked by the warmth of a traditional bookstore charm, unique from the likes of its big box counterparts. Having been around since 1989, Bryan Prince Bookseller has witnessed waves of change within the local community and has carefully adapted the business to the continuous state of flux.

Within recent years the store has broadened both its square footage and its customer base, catering in more depth to the student population.

“We have noticed that in the last year especially we are seeing more students coming off campus into the community,” says Tracey Higgins, Manager of Bryan Prince Bookseller. “What we need to focus on as business people is having more things like an open mic night at Second Cup or book events that will appeal to the student age and draw people off campus and have them realize there are a lot of resources in the area.”

The store has received positive reviews from the likes of students and professors, spawning greater opportunity to diversity customer base. This has allowed the bookstore to spread its wings further in the Mac community, helping to lure students from the confines of student housing and the library and expose them to all that the Westdale community has to offer.

Appealing to a mass demographic is just a fraction of what the store strives to achieve. Although the recent emergence and growth in popularity of electronic devices such as the Kindle reader have altered the landscape of the industry in a drastic way, Tracey Higgins insists the print industry is far from obsolete.

What it all boils down to is less about whether print will last, but how it will seek to effectively co-exist and adapt to rapid technological advancements.

“We’ve noticed there is a push toward electronic devices, but I think there will be a levelling off,” says Higgins. “There will be people who will like print, people who will like electronic devices and people viagra lowest prices who like both. I believe there will be a natural levelling off at some point, but I don’t think we will see the end of print in my lifetime. It’s valuable to have time to turn off the electronics and it’s good exercise to have the quiet time where you’re not being inundated.”

The purity of tangible literature and the intellectually stimulating power of the imagination outline the lacking aspects of electronic readers.

“It’s good to have the option of something static and something to use your imagination,” says Higgins.  “That’s something you miss when you have something that’s dynamic. Sometimes you have to flare up your imagination you have to read static words on the page and let the drama take place in your mind and your imagination.”

Holding these values, the bookstore has broadened its horizons. Although they do not currently sell electronic reading devices, the business has sought after methods of expanding different platforms and ways to adapt to industry fluctuations. The store has developed an effective special order system enabling a quick and personalized method of obtaining books that are not currently on shelves.

“The publishers are responding quickly to the needs and tastes and requests of customers and it doesn’t have to filter through many management levels to be dispersed back to the store,” says Higgins. “If there’s something people have brought up we can consider it right away and do something quickly and on our own, rather than deciding whether the majority likes it. That’s what is important when you’re working in a community, that they feel they have some contribution to make rather than having it provided.”

Combining a sense of something unique and traditional with modern ideas, Bryan Prince Bookseller has mastered the art of developing an easily distinguishable appearance, branding the store as somewhat of an oasis for individuals seeking refuge from the fast-paced nature of society. According to Ms. Higgins, reaching out to the community and giving something back has helped to maintain positive, welcoming relations within the local community.

As the industry changes, so do consumer tastes. On the sales front, fiction sales outweighed that of non-fiction sales in years past. In recent years this has evened out, with sales stemming from University presses, including academic non-fiction and popular non-fiction items. Sales from University presses have increased 200 to 300 per cent in recent years, with the bulk of all academic works spawning from merely ten publishers.

Growth in sales is positively correlated with growing consumer tastes and Tracey Higgins acknowledges the swift response of publishers to appeal to growth in the demand for such items.

“Because we can’t compete with the discounts, square footage and sometimes glitz of big box stores, we have to find other ways to compete with them and that is to offer something completely different,” said Higgins.

Bryan Prince Bookseller has flourished through the years and continues to maintain a steady position and familiar face in Westdale as it embodies a friendly, personalized approach to business. It acts as a sanctuary for all literature-obsessed beings seeking to become immersed and gain a wealth of knowledge all in a good book.


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