Chain bookstores branching out to lure in customers

Another «megastore of culture» has been added to the city center. Public, which sells CDs, DVDs, Internet and communication products as well as books was recently launched as an entertainment store. It is the fourth branch of a chain – after Thessaloniki, Volos and Nicosia – which claims to promote culture and entertainment products in a different way. Preparing to inaugurate further stores in Thessaloniki, Peristeri and even Bulgaria, Public emphasizes in particular the variety of products it promotes – the Syntagma branch boasts 180,000 different items. Part of its campaign to attract young people are the various events it organizes, such as «artist of the month» and «writer of the month» (currently Constantinos Beta and Petros Tatsopoulos respectively) and first presentations of music albums and comics. Future plans include the launch of an electronic bookstore, structured along the lines of Amazon, which will cover the Greek book market. Public is another of the «culture store» chains which are taking over Greek cities. The Eleftheroudakis bookstore chain recently opened two more branches in Patras and Iraklion, while Fnac is putting the finishing touches to its Glyfada store and is also expected to open an outlet in the city center. The Papasotiriou bookstores have already made their presence felt in many cities and Ianos – which also organizes a variety of events – after its success in Thessaloniki and Athens, has plans to move elsewhere too. All these chain stores organize happenings with well-known artists from all fields and launch cafes which quickly become professional meeting places, so as to appeal to a wider clientele. In contrast with these big stores, which all look the same and have similar commercial approaches, small independent bookstores can be found in the center and suburbs of Athens as well as in other cities. They are venues dedicated exclusively to books and literary events, which sometimes venture into publications of local interest and draw a book-loving audience. Such is the case of Oionos, the bookstore situated on Lamia’s main street, which has some 80,000 books and a large basement area for children. Isnafi in Ioannina, Papyrus on Chios and Naftilos in Athens have all adopted the same approach. They are traditional bookstores that also serve as a meeting place for literary groups. They specialize in books that never become best-sellers but have a strong and constant presence in bibliography. Between the two, it seems that things are more in favor of the big chain stores, which cater to wider consumer groups and provide modern forms of entertainment.