Internet kills off Kendal bookshop

The Westmorland Gazette: Henry Roberts' bokshop Henry Roberts' bokshop

A LONG-established Kendal bookshop is to shut down after 24 years in business.

Henry Roberts’ Book Shop on Stramongate has been unable to compete with the internet and supermarket chains.

The shop is housed in one of Kendal’s oldest buildings and has been a hub for book lovers since PR Books took over the premises in 1989.

The outlet is having a closing down sale and is due to shut its doors on January 11, with two members of staff losing their jobs. PR Books Ltd, based on the Mealbank Estate in Kendal, also closed the Henry Roberts book shop in Hawkshead last month.

However, the shops in Ambleside and Bowness will remain open.

Company accountant Andy Lawson said: “This decision to close the shop was one that was not taken lightly. It really was a last resort.

“The shop has not been turning a profit for a long time now and it has come to the point where it is running at a loss. This is down to the competition from supermarkets and the internet and also just general lack of customers.”

The Ordnance Survey maps, a popular service that ran from the book shop, will still be available from the company’s site on the Mealbank Estate.

The building itself has an extensive history. It was built in the 16th century and it was once home of the British explorer Captain James Cook’s sister.

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Derek Armstrong, a representative for the Chamber of Trade in Kendal, said: “It is very unfortunate that a shop that has been trading in the area for such a long time has had to shut down.

“We, at the Tourist Information Centre, would often send people to the shop. It is sad but we hope that the businesses in the town will get back on their feet and the introduction of Kendal as a Business Improvement District in March will help.”

Comments (13)

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2:40pm Tue 10 Dec 13

jazzactivist says...

Aw, what a shame. As a book lover and reader I always support small, independent bookshops and publishers. It's the same as everything else - don't be led by bargain prices. If we are willing to pay a reasonable price for everything we won't lose the range and character and choice offered by a mix of shops. If we mainly shop in supermarkets or online soon that sterile experience is all we will have left.
Aw, what a shame. As a book lover and reader I always support small, independent bookshops and publishers. It's the same as everything else - don't be led by bargain prices. If we are willing to pay a reasonable price for everything we won't lose the range and character and choice offered by a mix of shops. If we mainly shop in supermarkets or online soon that sterile experience is all we will have left. jazzactivist

4:42pm Tue 10 Dec 13

hogheaven says...

jazzactivist wrote:
Aw, what a shame. As a book lover and reader I always support small, independent bookshops and publishers. It's the same as everything else - don't be led by bargain prices. If we are willing to pay a reasonable price for everything we won't lose the range and character and choice offered by a mix of shops. If we mainly shop in supermarkets or online soon that sterile experience is all we will have left.
Never thought the day would come when I would agree with you ,but in this instance I do .Merry Christmas
[quote][p][bold]jazzactivist[/bold] wrote: Aw, what a shame. As a book lover and reader I always support small, independent bookshops and publishers. It's the same as everything else - don't be led by bargain prices. If we are willing to pay a reasonable price for everything we won't lose the range and character and choice offered by a mix of shops. If we mainly shop in supermarkets or online soon that sterile experience is all we will have left.[/p][/quote]Never thought the day would come when I would agree with you ,but in this instance I do .Merry Christmas hogheaven

4:43pm Tue 10 Dec 13

snuggle-bunny says...

very sad news indeed. I have nothing but fond memories of the shop and it's seemingly endless supply of books on just about everything as well as the helpfull and polite staff. It's a sign of the times, to which we all create, by not shopping local. Bye to you all- I, for one, am sorry to see you go
very sad news indeed. I have nothing but fond memories of the shop and it's seemingly endless supply of books on just about everything as well as the helpfull and polite staff. It's a sign of the times, to which we all create, by not shopping local. Bye to you all- I, for one, am sorry to see you go snuggle-bunny

11:25pm Tue 10 Dec 13

Topp66 says...

I used to buy books there when planning for holiday etc but not it is so much easier (not better) to just go on line that seems to be the norm now sad times but more will follow sadly.
I used to buy books there when planning for holiday etc but not it is so much easier (not better) to just go on line that seems to be the norm now sad times but more will follow sadly. Topp66

8:11am Wed 11 Dec 13

Moonbase says...

Another sad chapter and another empty shop in Kendal.
Another sad chapter and another empty shop in Kendal. Moonbase

5:30pm Wed 11 Dec 13

Milkbutnosugarplease says...

May I offer one more cause? Charity shops are bookshops to me and they are clothes shops to other people. As charity shops grow in number in Kendal and other places, the sale of used goods will undermine slightly the sale of new ones. I have never been in this Kendal shop, but I've been in the Ambleside branch. More often I've been in Ambleside's Oxfam shop and the newer charity shop nearby run by Age Concern. I see this 'charity shopping' as another sort of recycling plus a way of funding a good cause. Sadly, it doesn't support bookshops like this one in the report.
May I offer one more cause? Charity shops are bookshops to me and they are clothes shops to other people. As charity shops grow in number in Kendal and other places, the sale of used goods will undermine slightly the sale of new ones. I have never been in this Kendal shop, but I've been in the Ambleside branch. More often I've been in Ambleside's Oxfam shop and the newer charity shop nearby run by Age Concern. I see this 'charity shopping' as another sort of recycling plus a way of funding a good cause. Sadly, it doesn't support bookshops like this one in the report. Milkbutnosugarplease

6:05pm Wed 11 Dec 13

jazzactivist says...

Well, may Hell freeze over, Hogheaven! Does it turn out we are both bibliophiles, or that we both love small, independent shops and are sad to see them close, or even support the same ones? Merry Christmas to you too...

I suppose it's about making informed choices, Milk. I agree with you that it's now possible to buy just about anything from charity shops and never buy new, and choose to only assist charities with our money. I also buy secondhand books from charity shops, but on top of new books from independent bookshops, and secondhand ones from independents too. You can never have too many books ;-) It's sad to see this bookshop close, but I suppose it is a small chain and the other stores elsewhere will be kept open. If it was the only bookshop belonging to the owner it would be even more sad.
Well, may Hell freeze over, Hogheaven! Does it turn out we are both bibliophiles, or that we both love small, independent shops and are sad to see them close, or even support the same ones? Merry Christmas to you too... I suppose it's about making informed choices, Milk. I agree with you that it's now possible to buy just about anything from charity shops and never buy new, and choose to only assist charities with our money. I also buy secondhand books from charity shops, but on top of new books from independent bookshops, and secondhand ones from independents too. You can never have too many books ;-) It's sad to see this bookshop close, but I suppose it is a small chain and the other stores elsewhere will be kept open. If it was the only bookshop belonging to the owner it would be even more sad. jazzactivist

6:26pm Wed 11 Dec 13

hogheaven says...

jazzactivist wrote:
Well, may Hell freeze over, Hogheaven! Does it turn out we are both bibliophiles, or that we both love small, independent shops and are sad to see them close, or even support the same ones? Merry Christmas to you too...

I suppose it's about making informed choices, Milk. I agree with you that it's now possible to buy just about anything from charity shops and never buy new, and choose to only assist charities with our money. I also buy secondhand books from charity shops, but on top of new books from independent bookshops, and secondhand ones from independents too. You can never have too many books ;-) It's sad to see this bookshop close, but I suppose it is a small chain and the other stores elsewhere will be kept open. If it was the only bookshop belonging to the owner it would be even more sad.
Yes i love books, but also love small independent shops where you get personal service from usually the owner. What was the saying "Britain is a nation of shopkeepers" well maybe it still is but dwindling by the hour. I try to support our local shops whenever possible, and in a lot of cases prices are cheaper than a lot of the large multiples.
.In Grange you can get practically everything you need for day to day living,and free delivery from my favorite hardware store L............s Charity shops have a place in our society selling USED items but should not be allowed to sell new items, in direct competition with shopkeepers, who have to pay staff and excessive business rates ,whereas charity shops do not.
[quote][p][bold]jazzactivist[/bold] wrote: Well, may Hell freeze over, Hogheaven! Does it turn out we are both bibliophiles, or that we both love small, independent shops and are sad to see them close, or even support the same ones? Merry Christmas to you too... I suppose it's about making informed choices, Milk. I agree with you that it's now possible to buy just about anything from charity shops and never buy new, and choose to only assist charities with our money. I also buy secondhand books from charity shops, but on top of new books from independent bookshops, and secondhand ones from independents too. You can never have too many books ;-) It's sad to see this bookshop close, but I suppose it is a small chain and the other stores elsewhere will be kept open. If it was the only bookshop belonging to the owner it would be even more sad.[/p][/quote]Yes i love books, but also love small independent shops where you get personal service from usually the owner. What was the saying "Britain is a nation of shopkeepers" well maybe it still is but dwindling by the hour. I try to support our local shops whenever possible, and in a lot of cases prices are cheaper than a lot of the large multiples. .In Grange you can get practically everything you need for day to day living,and free delivery from my favorite hardware store L............s Charity shops have a place in our society selling USED items but should not be allowed to sell new items, in direct competition with shopkeepers, who have to pay staff and excessive business rates ,whereas charity shops do not. hogheaven

8:25am Thu 12 Dec 13

BentheBorderCollie says...

The headline isn't strictly correct. Henry Roberts was the local branch of hive.co.uk, where you could order online and collect from Roberts' shop. I don't know what margin the shop got from hive sales - far less than paying full price in the shop - but it was an attempt to compete with the Amazons of this world.
The headline isn't strictly correct. Henry Roberts was the local branch of hive.co.uk, where you could order online and collect from Roberts' shop. I don't know what margin the shop got from hive sales - far less than paying full price in the shop - but it was an attempt to compete with the Amazons of this world. BentheBorderCollie

1:45pm Thu 12 Dec 13

PropMeUpWithTeabags says...

i think one of the problems is there are so many books to choose from. If you are wanting a specific book then local bookshops do not have the space to stock all these different books. It's a shame that everyone goes online these days to buy there books, but some of the blame has to lie with the owners of these shops. Why stock titles that are easily availiable online or at waterstones when you could have really unusual titles or a niche market or be a specialist bookshop with specialist knowledge and an online prescence. Left on the Shelf in Kendal is a bookshop specialising in Socialist literature and has a website where you can search and order books. The owner would be the kind of person who sounds like he would be able to recommend other titles for reading based on your initial enquiry and it's this knowledge that makes people return to the shop. I would also say that the one and only time I set foot in that shop the proprietor was very standoffish and rude and that does not entice people back there!
i think one of the problems is there are so many books to choose from. If you are wanting a specific book then local bookshops do not have the space to stock all these different books. It's a shame that everyone goes online these days to buy there books, but some of the blame has to lie with the owners of these shops. Why stock titles that are easily availiable online or at waterstones when you could have really unusual titles or a niche market or be a specialist bookshop with specialist knowledge and an online prescence. Left on the Shelf in Kendal is a bookshop specialising in Socialist literature and has a website where you can search and order books. The owner would be the kind of person who sounds like he would be able to recommend other titles for reading based on your initial enquiry and it's this knowledge that makes people return to the shop. I would also say that the one and only time I set foot in that shop the proprietor was very standoffish and rude and that does not entice people back there! PropMeUpWithTeabags

1:58pm Thu 12 Dec 13

tictoc1 says...

This is a real shame! I was only in there at the weekend. The knowledge and helpfulness was brilliant! Thank you for being such a fantastic little shop and good luck for the future.
This is a real shame! I was only in there at the weekend. The knowledge and helpfulness was brilliant! Thank you for being such a fantastic little shop and good luck for the future. tictoc1

6:50pm Thu 12 Dec 13

fellsman says...

It is a shame, however the internet is a fact of life and businesses have got to adapt or fail - we have an excellent bookshop in Ambleside in Fred Holdsworths, but it is small, however they do have a thriving internet business - you can't just sit back and expect people to come into a shop anymore - if people get to know that they can buy on line from small personal bookshops, many will stick with them
It is a shame, however the internet is a fact of life and businesses have got to adapt or fail - we have an excellent bookshop in Ambleside in Fred Holdsworths, but it is small, however they do have a thriving internet business - you can't just sit back and expect people to come into a shop anymore - if people get to know that they can buy on line from small personal bookshops, many will stick with them fellsman

12:12pm Wed 8 Jan 14

Guanajuato says...

Even a funny picture posted by Jeremy Vine on twitter didn't get the footfall up. twitter. com/ geoffwinstanley/ status/ 396272911595880449/ photo/ 1
(Take out spaces)

I've always use Henry Roberts in preference to Waterstones, Smiths or Online as first port of call for a book. Unfotunately it was often the case of them not having the particular book, or nothing grabbing my eye. Ordering was a bit hit and miss and would take several days to arrive. I guess its a similar thing to independent pubs not having the clout of the bigger chains, so can't possibly get the stock in quickly or at reasonable prices for them. Even for the specialist bookshops, places like amazon can supply even the most obscure books at prices the bookshops can't get from wholesalers. But what Amazon can't do is get the passing browsers - you tend to go for a specific book, and don't get to leaf through other books which make catch you. It will be a shame when (not if) we do lose that option.

I'll be heading up to Henry Roberts sometime this week to see what's available. I hope something interesting goes into the building - maybe the cafe down the alleyway?

Anyone know what's going on with what was Soper's next door? It's been being 'renovated' for at least a year, with different groups of people every few weeks, refitting what's been fitted by the last lot. Seems a bit dodgy to me.
Even a funny picture posted by Jeremy Vine on twitter didn't get the footfall up. twitter. com/ geoffwinstanley/ status/ 396272911595880449/ photo/ 1 (Take out spaces) I've always use Henry Roberts in preference to Waterstones, Smiths or Online as first port of call for a book. Unfotunately it was often the case of them not having the particular book, or nothing grabbing my eye. Ordering was a bit hit and miss and would take several days to arrive. I guess its a similar thing to independent pubs not having the clout of the bigger chains, so can't possibly get the stock in quickly or at reasonable prices for them. Even for the specialist bookshops, places like amazon can supply even the most obscure books at prices the bookshops can't get from wholesalers. But what Amazon can't do is get the passing browsers - you tend to go for a specific book, and don't get to leaf through other books which make catch you. It will be a shame when (not if) we do lose that option. I'll be heading up to Henry Roberts sometime this week to see what's available. I hope something interesting goes into the building - maybe the cafe down the alleyway? Anyone know what's going on with what was Soper's next door? It's been being 'renovated' for at least a year, with different groups of people every few weeks, refitting what's been fitted by the last lot. Seems a bit dodgy to me. Guanajuato

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