Spotlighting diversification in bookselling sector: Apollo bookstore chain from Estonia
First starting in 2000, Apollo bookshop opened it's first store in Estonia. In the two decades that followed, the chain grew to encompass 18 bookstores, while also expanding their presence in various non-book related businesses. The Apollo Group today includes 16 cinemas, 10 blender juice bars, 9 restaurants, 6 entertainment centres, 2 bowling arenas, and other ventures.
At the recent International Booksellers Conference in Sharjah, Agne Ahi, Apollo's Product Manager of Foreign-language Books, highlighted the chain's diversification model and explored how this allowed the bookshop side of business to thrive: "We decided not to diversify just inside the stores, focusing on what we sell, but the business itself. By 2016, we created what we like to call the Apollo entertainment complex. This include bookstores, cinemas, and restaurants. To combine these together, we created Apollo loyalty club."
Agne joined one of the conference panels, spotlighting how diversification can work in practice and looking at experiences from four countries. The speakers also included Akshaya Rautaray, from Walking Book Fairs, India, Hassan Ali, Lightning Source, Sharjah, and Keith Thong, UBSM, Malaysia. From cinema partnerships to innovative book-tuk truck that bring books to children in rural areas in India, the panelists highlighted the important role of bookselling for enabling access to books and culture to all. The speakers presented what worked and what didn’t work in their circumstances, including the role of Print on Demand for booksellers.
See Agne's full presentation.