At a time when everybody in the book industry seems to speak about digitalisation and when major US chains are closing, Germany’s biggest book retailer, Thalia, is going in the opposite direction: it’s starting a new chain of shops. In collaboration with Swedish book chain Pocket Shop, Thalia plans to open up to 15 outlets in airports and train stations by 2015. The new chain will be branded “Thalia Pocket Shop,” and the first two stores will open early in 2012 in the new Pier A-Plus at Frankfurt Airport, with a third following in the summer in Berlin Brandenburg International.
The shops sell only a small selection of paperbacks and are aimed at travellers who want to grab quality reading material before boarding. “Pocket Shop is a unique concept with a focus on the combination of retail business in the travel environment, the sale of paperback books, and attractive shops,” says Per Sjödell, CEO of Pocket Shop. Thalia spokesperson Mirjam Berle adds: “Our goal is to be there for our customers at any time and any place, so we go where our customers are – including online – and in the future, with Pocket Shop, even to high-frequency travel hubs.”
But even though Thalia is making a major bet on paper with Pocket Shop the company isn’t forgetting tech. “There are travellers who like to take their bookshelves with them in electronic form and others who prefer a thick paper tome,” says Berle. “We service both as we will have printed books in the stores as well as our own eReader, OYO.”