How One Bookshop Closed and a Global Door Opened
Hello! I'm Liesl Olivier, born in Cape Town, educated in business and marketing in the UK, and best known as owner of The English Bookshop. As founder of the Literary Globe, I'd like to share my experiences as a bookstore owner and how it led to my new mission to connect writers with literary services and return readers to bookstores.
When I first turned the key to my shop overlooking a tree-shaded canal in Amsterdam's stunning Jordaan, it was lifeless shell with nary a book on the dusty shelves. With a heady dose of passion, inspiration, hard work and community support, I was able to transform it into a dynamic hub for people of all ages, from many corners of the globe, united by their love for literature and books.
Over a decade, both locals and tourists came to know The English Bookshop as more than a source for books. In its cozy confines, poets found other poets. Authors discovered kindred spirits. Discussion groups formed around mystery, romance and other literary genres. Toddlers and moms interacted at morning story-times. A year-round calendar of trivia nights, afternoon teas, author readings and holiday puppet shows kept the community engaged. Throughout Amsterdam, the shop earned a reputation for gezelligheid, as the Dutch say - a welcoming vibe that seduces you in, then convinces you to stay awhile.
My rewards went well beyond what you might expect of a popular bookstore stocked with quality materials. The most valuable were insights about why some books flew off the shelves while others just languished, gathering dust and never making it to the cash register. I saw how many authors were publishing books that failed to meet readers'expectations. I learned that even extraordinary writing can't compensate for a lack of branding and good market research.
As the business of running a bookstore became increasingly difficult, challenges also increased for aspiring writers. Gone are the days when writers, publishers, and agents worked together to market a book. Today's writers are flying solo, often in the dark, as they tackle the myriad challenges of writing and marketing their books in the 21st century.
For readers, writers and all who serve them, I wanted to take all the ideas, experiences and lessons I absorbed over 10 years as a bookstore owner into a new venture. It’s that ambition that became The Literary Globe.