Search

Family-owned West End Lane bookshop still giving Amazon a run for its money after 20 years

11:51 30 April 2014

West End Lane Books staff Saskia Van Emden, Ghasson Fergiani (owner), Danny Van Emden and Jonathan Arkless celebrate the shop

West End Lane Books staff Saskia Van Emden, Ghasson Fergiani (owner), Danny Van Emden and Jonathan Arkless celebrate the shop's 20th birthday. Picture: Nigel Sutton

© Nigel Sutton email pictures@nigelsuttonphotography.com

A family-owned bookshop that launched in the same year as rival US book giant Amazon has defied its Kindle-selling rival by celebrating its 20th birthday.

West End Lane Books, West Hampstead, which opened in 1994, was packed with regular customers, neighbouring business owners and book publishers to celebrate the landmark anniversary last Thursday evening.

About 60 people turned up to toast the independent bookshop, a turnout that staff said bore testimony to the “ongoing commitment the West Hampstead community has to its high street”.

Danny Van Emden, who has worked at the shop for the past five years, said: “It’s such a significant milestone for us and is a real achievement for the shop. This is especially true given the market we operate in, which is harder and tighter than ever. But I think we’re better placed than many of our medium-sized counterparts.

“We’re an independent shop that’s small enough to know our customers really well and to have control over what we sell – that’s why I think we’ve been supported in the community and lasted so long.”

The shop has managed to survive while many other bookshops across the country struggle.

The number of independent bookshops on British high streets has declined by a third over the last nine years, falling below 1,000 at the start of this year.

West End Lane’s sister store, England’s Lane Books, in Belsize Park, was forced to close in 2012. Staff say the increasing popularity of online shopping as well as the arrival of electronic book readers, like the Amazon Kindle, has changed the way people shop for their books.

“Amazon and Kindles have taken massive bites out of our business,” said Ms Van Emden. “But I think it’s changing.

“People are starting to realise that if they always buy their products online, there won’t be a high street anymore.

“West Hampstead is such a great community to be a part of and we’ve become a bit like what a post office used to be. People come in here not just to buy or browse books but also to have a chat – that’s something an online shop like Amazon can’t offer.”

West End Lane Books’ birthday comes just months before online giant Amazon.com celebrates its own 20th birthday.

The company started out as a US bookselling website but has now become a global online superstore.

While retaining its traditional shop front in the high street, West End Lane Books has also embraced the possibilities of online.

Its Twitter account has more than 3,500 followers, allowing them to promote newly-released books and engage with their community.

It has also allowed the shop to contact notable authors on Twitter to organise book readings and events.

Asked about whether they thought the shop could last another 20 years, staff were resilient in their response.

“If anything threatens this shop I’ll chain myself to the railings,” said Ms Van Emden.

“The bookshop is so important to West Hampstead – and I think the community agrees.”

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Hampstead Highgate Express visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Hampstead Highgate Express staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Hampstead Highgate Express account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Latest Hampstead & Highgate News Stories

Yesterday, 17:03
Hungry: Liam Gallagher (Picture: Adam Butler/PA)

Former Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher has revealed he once pelted former Hampstead neighbour Jamie Oliver’s windows with stones and demanded a bacon roll.

Yesterday, 12:06
Kemi Adeyoola

A “cold-blooded killer” who murdered an elderly Golders Green woman should not be freed anytime soon, a top judge has ruled.

Yesterday, 11:14
The dog was photographed attacking a swan    picture: Ron Vester

Photographer Ron Vester captures the dramatic moment when a female swan fights off a dog on Hampstead No 2 pond and amazingly escapes with no physical injuries

Yesterday, 11:13
Councillor Hayward with members of the LaSWAP sixth form consortium

Camden council leader Sarah Hayward was full of praise for A-level students across the borough following the publication of their results last week.

Mon, 18:35
Homes for Haringey has come under fire after the letting agency it set up and funded rented out just two homes in ten months

Haringey Council has come under fire after it was revealed a letting agency it set up and funded at a cost of over £400,000 has rented out just two homes in the last ten months.

Mon, 17:49
Almost half of Camden households are set to receive fortnightly waste collections from next April

Camden Council is set to press ahead with introducing fortnightly waste collections for around half the borough after a rebellion against a new £200 million contract with existing provider Veolia was derailed.

Mon, 17:25
Gabriella playing dressing up games

The husband of jailed West Hampstead mum Nazanin Zaghari Ratcliffe, who is on trial in Iran, has revealed how his two-year-old daughter was forced to wear a sack over her head when she visited her mother in prison.

Mon, 12:24
The JW3 in Finchley Road, where the woman took refuge. Picture: Ezra Photography Ltd

Police investigating an attempted rape in West Hampstead have appealed to trace a woman who was followed by a man on the same evening.

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Most read Hampstead & Highgate news

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Property Newsletter Sign-up

Get the latest North London property news and features straight to your inbox with our regular newsletter

I am also happy to receive other emails...
Fields marked with a * are mandatory
Email Marketing by e-shot

Competitions

You could win £15,000 to spend on either their mortgage or a deposit towards the home of their dreams

Wouldn’t it be lovely to have a period of time when you simply don’t have to worry about finding the money each month to pay your mortgage? When you don’t have to put money aside from your monthly income, or worry about having to afford other essential outgoings?

Which book character do you share cleaning habits with?

Whether you have more in common with put-upon Cinderella, emotionally turbulent Jane Eyre, or easily distracted Mole, you’re sure to appreciate that one lucky winner will receive four sessions of free cleaning. Enter our quiz for your chance to win. All runners up will get £10 off their first clean when making a repeat booking.

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now