Malls embracing IT and books

The entertainment/leisure products market in Greece is set to see dramatic changes according to plans announced recently at the Benaki Museum by Publicworld SA, a company in which Multirama computer stores has a 60 percent share and businessman Panos Germanos, the main shareholder of the Germanos electronics retailer, holds 40 percent. The first place in Greece to see one of the new book and multimedia superstores is the region of Pylaia in Thessaloniki which, by the end of the month, will acquire the first Public store at the Mediterranean Cosmos Mall. A second store, of 5,000 square meters, is to be opened in Athens next September in the building currently housing the Omega schools in Syntagma Square. «These are very modern, big stores where visitors will be able to experience the benefits of modern culture as they are presented via a combination of products and services comprising technology, music and books,» explained the company’s representatives. At the presentation at the Benaki, organizers screened a virtual-reality view of the Pylaia store’s interior. It is separated into four sections: micro-electronics (computers, IT equipment, etc), image and sound (with two home theaters), music and film (CDs, DVDs, screening areas and listening stations) and books. Also at the Benaki, in a separate event, representatives of FNAC were meeting with Greek publishers. The arrival of these stores in Greece has the publishing world somewhat divided as to what the role of books will be in them. Yiannis Vavourakis, who is in charge of the book sections of the Public stores, said that «books will carry equal weight with the other areas and will cover one-fourth of the space. We are placing strong emphasis on children’s books – for which we have made a special area – on foreign-language books (mainly English to begin with), on art books and comics. But, books are a crossover product so they will also coexist with other sections.» These large stores, where one can buy almost anything, have changed the way publishers also think of space. So far, the only bookstore in Greece to take up several levels of a building has been Eleftheroudakis, but as new trends are taking hold, other bookstores are now following the lead. Ianos, for example, is opening a new 1,600 sq.m. store on the corner of Stadiou and Georgiou Stavrou streets, while Papasotiriou just recently announced that it has found a large space on Korai Street for a new downtown Athens store. Nikos Karantzas of Ianos described the new multimedia and bookstores as «technology supermarkets.» «I find these moves interesting, but peripheral,» he added. «What kind of landscape are we looking forward to? When someone goes to buy a computer, they are working in a different mind-set. I don’t think that seasoned readers will have anything to learn from these stores; maybe infrequent readers will. Readers want a completely different environment; one that respects them with well-informed and educated staff.»