Launched in 2021, Gibert’s Quinze.bis will close its doors

On September 30, 2021, Gibert, then facing economic difficulties accentuated by the pandemic, inaugurated a new concept store in Paris, the Fifteenth.bis. A hybrid place that promised an experience combining diverse cultural and artistic activities such as music, well-being, crafts, decoration, and meetings with authors and artists.

A multifactorial failure

The 550 m² site, spread over two floors, in addition to 45,000 references at the start, ranging from various literature to human sciences and extracurricular activities, benefited from partnerships to enrich its offer, in particular with the Balades Sonores record store, or French artisanal brands in the stationery/gift area. Yoga classes, natural cosmetics workshops, mini-concerts, and even signing sessions were also offered.

An initiative which was then part of a broader strategy aimed at revitalizing the brand through the development of corners conceptual, following the closure of four sites in Saint-Michel earlier in 2021.

The Fifteen.bis has been affected by a series of challenges in recent years, including a change in the neighborhood that has led to a decline in its regular customers, management analyzes in a press release reported by Le Parisien. The store’s activity has also suffered from disruptions caused by various social movements near Place de la République, such as the Yellow Vest protests, pension reforms and restrictions related to the Covid-19 pandemic, the group explains.

TO READ – A second-hand bookstore “low-cost” opens its doors in Paris

Gibert now hears ” refocus on its nine other Parisian bookstores closer to its customers “, they explain. He proposes to reassign the nine employees of the Fifteen.bis in its other stores in the capital or within the group. In 2020, the brand had already closed four bookstores on Place Saint-Michel.

A pioneer of second-hand books

In 1886, Joseph Gibert, a professor of Classics, founded Gibert, a bookstore specializing in second-hand school books, in Paris, opposite Notre Dame. The bookstore quickly prospered thanks to Jules Ferry’s law on compulsory education. After the founder’s death in 1915, his two sons divided the company into two separate brands: Gibert Joseph and Gibert Jeune. Gibert Joseph expanded into the 6th arrondissement and beyond, developing bookstores across France, while Gibert Jeune focused on Paris, innovating with the concept of self-service.

Over time, both brands diversified their offerings beyond the school and university sector, offering a variety of products at affordable prices. In 2001, Gibert Joseph acquired the Univers du Livre chain, marking its first major expansion. Today, Gibert has 25 points of sale throughout France.

In 2022-2023, a major study led by Bertrand Legendre under the aegis of the Ministry of Culture and Sofia explored the changes in the second-hand book market in France, highlighting significant growth in this sector. Around 16% of French people bought a second-hand book in 2022, with a clear increase compared to the purchase of new books.

Second-hand purchases account for 20% of all books purchased, but only 10% of the market in value, as second-hand books cost on average two and a half times less than new ones. Peer-to-peer sales and online platforms such as Leboncoin and Vinted have become popular channels for these transactions, offering increasingly tough competition to the more than century-old Gibert.

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During the last Paris Book Festival, President Emmanuel Macron also announced the establishment of a “contribution” on second-hand books to protect the law on the single price of new books and support French authors, publishers and translators. A measure which primarily aimed to regulate sales on online platforms and prevent the circumvention of this regulation. This was followed by a storm of protest. In the context of the early legislative elections, this measure now seems far from the government’s priorities.

Photo credits: ActuaLitté (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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