There have been a number of changes in the world of photography bookshops in the last year or so. To start with the positives, Claire de Rouen the fashion and photography shop on Charing Cross Road is now being run by Lucy Moore. I called in to see her and ask how she found running a small specialist bookshop.
Meanwhile, next door to Claire de Rouen is the largest bookshop in London, Foyles. In recent years Foyles has undergone a revival becoming far better organised so it now both contains a large stock and it is possible to find what you are looking for. It also still demonstrates the benefits of giving book buyers responsibility over the books in their departments. In the photography section this has had the unexpected result that they now stock large numbers of self published books. Mohara Gill is the Art Buyer.
I asked her why they are now stocking independently produced titles, like Cafe Royal Books (whose creator Craig Atkinson I spoke to at Copeland Book Market in July). Ironically, it would seem that the books that historically couldn't get into large bookshops are now one of the main attractions bringing customers in. This is something the dreaded Amazon cannot supply.
Elsewhere in the independent bookshop world Conor at Donlon Books says that they expect to be at their current location for at least another six months (they had expected to have to leave their current shop this year). He says they are also considering moving into a new additional venue in Dalston that would be big enough to include a gallery and events space. Conor says he is often finds people want to put on events and there is no space to do it, this would allow him to put on photography shows or 'archival book exhibitions'. He says 'everything is up in the air at the moment' but should become clearer in December.
On a less positive note Photo Books International, the last second hand photography bookshop in the country (unless anyone knows of another) closed at the end of October. The shop is currently being slowly cleared out and is being offered to new tenants. I was unable to speak to the people who ran the shop but met the owner of the building by chance. He said that they had found it hard to make the business financially viable. It had been going for 16 years.