This research theoretically conceptualises the notion of “third place” within the setting of chain bookshops. The widespread adoption of coffee franchises and comfortable seating has developed the bookshop as a leisurely setting. Underpinning the discussion in current retail marketing theory, the research aims to explore how the understanding of “third place” has changed with the passage of time and to examine whether chain bookshops can be called third places.
The methodological approach is largely qualitative, drawing upon interviews with bookshop managers with regard to their strategic aims, and using focus groups to discuss consumers' bookshop experiences. The research also draws upon quantitative data, i.e. face-to-face questionnaires and online surveys.
The research concludes that while consumer experience of chain bookshops is positive, they cannot be called a “third place” due to the lack of conversation therein. Nevertheless, an important caveat exists – the presence of an integral coffee shop encourages socialising among bookshop customers.
The project's scope is limited to chain bookshops in the UK. Future work might look at third place or restorative provision in other retail settings or over a wider geographic spread.
The research has important implications and recommendations for managers of retail sites regarding the potential restorative qualities of bookshops, coffee shops and other retail environments.
This empirical research enhances scholarly understanding of the bookshop as a restorative space, highlighting an important advantage which traditional retailers have over internet retailers.
Laing, A. and Royle, J. (2013), "Examining chain bookshops in the context of “third place”", International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, Vol. 41 No. 1, pp. 27-44. https://doi.org/10.1108/09590551311288157Download as .RIS
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