Bookshops and urban regeneration – revitalising the vibrant high street

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Previous research into independent bookshops in Scotland has found that in relatively isolated communities, they provide more than a place to buy books; they can also be a gathering space, a place of safety and at times a hub for the local community (Laing 2020).

Award
MRes | MPhil | PhD | MSc by Research
Start Date
Usually February and October - at individual School's discretion

Summary

A study by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR 2017) focused upon the economic benefits of bookshops, but, significantly, CEBR also pointed out that much in the way of bookshops’ value is actually manifested in terms of ‘creative spillover’ i.e. providing cultural hubs, places for events and supporting literacy initiatives.

The proposed project builds on previous research and would explore the evolving role of independent bookshops in Scotland, as they continue to adapt to the pressures brought to bear by online bookselling, chain booksellers and e-books. This adaptation often involves engagement with social media platforms while simultaneously emphasising more traditional experiential values such as a sense of place, space, time to browse, serendipity, relaxation, and often a coffee shop.

These qualities chime with some of the recent work focusing on the future of the high street (Hospers 2017; Parker et al 2017). The future high street must focus upon social, cultural and experiential destinations, and bookshops fit these concepts perfectly. Crucially, the CEBR (2017) suggests that bookshops may encourage urban clustering, supporting footfall to nearby shops and preventing urban decay. Alongside cafes, artisan stores and other destination venues, there is potential for independent bookshops to be at the heart of the future high street. The proposed project would explore the potential for bookshops to contribute to the revitalisation of the high street.

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