Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

12.08 9 Feb 2021


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One Dublin bookseller says he's 'quite optimistic' about the future, despite 'global behemoth' Amazon eyeing up an Irish operation.

Reports emerged last week that Amazon is looking to set up its first dedicated fulfillment centre in Ireland.

While Irish customers have typically been served by the retail giant’s UK site, that has been complicated as a result of Brexit.

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With an Amazon.ie potentially on the cards, it’s led to concerns that local businesses could be dealt a further blow.

However, Morris Earls - spokesperson of Books Upstairs bookstore in Dublin city centre - told The Pat Kenny Show that the challenges aren’t new.

He said: "Amazon is laying waste to the retailing scene around the world.

"Booksellers like myself have had to deal with the presence of Amazon for a long time - and we’re perfectly aware it’s not going away.

“I think our approach to bookselling gives us a fair chance of avoiding the worst effects of the Amazon steamroller. It’s a little more complicated than just being a showroom - people don’t all think that way."

'Part of the cultural soil'

Mr Earls said his own bookstore's stock is 'large and very carefully chosen', while their 'bookselling values' are something they've tried to extend and reflect with their website.

He said his bookstore is in-tune with the local culture - including the arts, history and politics.

He observed: “Booksellers like us are of the cultural soil, and that’s simply impossible for a global behemoth like Amazon. Our experience is that people react positively to that, and we’re quite optimistic about our future.

“[Amazon] won’t have the 'History of Stepaside', or the local poet… that particular things that would be of interest within our culture. If you can get you through a third-party seller, they’ll charge you for them.

“You can simply walk into a bookshop like ours, and pick them up. Many people find that convenient, and they like the experience of engaging with a bookshop which is culturally committed."

Mr Earls said Books Upstairs also operates as a 'literary centre and café' as well as a bookshop.

He observed: "We have events, readings, discussions. It’s a pleasant experience for people to have.

"Our challenge during lockdown… is to extend that feeling and culture online. We’ve gone to a lot of trouble to try to do that… we have things like themed book bundles for people in lockdown, where they tell us the kind of things they’re interested in and we select books for them.

“They have the excitement of opening these, which we’ve wrapped separately. It adds a bit of pleasure to what can be a drab lockdown experience."

Main image: File photo. Picture by: Frank Rumpenhorst/DPA/PA Images

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