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'The internet and high rents have killed off my bookshop' states store owner

PUBLISHED: 10:44 05 December 2019 | UPDATED: 10:44 05 December 2019

David Makinson, who is closing the Holt Bookshop. Pic: Archant

David Makinson, who is closing the Holt Bookshop. Pic: Archant

The owner of a town's last independent bookshop is closing his store - blaming the £65,000 annual costs and internet competition.

David Makinson, Holt Bookshop. Pic: ArchantDavid Makinson, Holt Bookshop. Pic: Archant

David Makinson, who runs the Holt Bookshop, 10, Appleyard, Holt, just off the high street, will not be renewing his lease when it expires next July. And despite looking forward to retirement, he is upset that his closure will mean there will be no bookshops left in the town.

He pays around £65,000 a year in rent and business rates combined. He said: "It's an expensive business running a bookshop and we can't compete with Amazon, they don't have our overheads and then there is the rent; landlords have such high expectations.

"We do have some very loyal customers who know they can buy books cheaper online but still choose us. The government seems reluctant to create a fairer balance in terms of the big online firms and supermarkets all selling books so cheaply, at a loss - and independent book shops.

The Holt Bookshop is in Holt's Appleyard. Pic: ArchantThe Holt Bookshop is in Holt's Appleyard. Pic: Archant

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"Holt is widely known for the quality of its shops which draw visitors from all over the country. It would be a very sad day if there was no bookshop to serve them. My feeling is that Holt can definitely support a bookshop."

Mr Makinson has run the bookshop for the past 14 years, opened by Stephen Fry and once named one of Britain's best 50 bookshops in Britain by the Independent newspaper. He used to run events with authors which were hugely popular. "We once had a queue right down the high street for journalist and BBC news correspondent Kate Adie," he said.

He himself was a former journalist working in Wolverhampton for a regional newspaper before returning to Norfolk after working out in the Gulf. "I didn't have any experience in retail but I've loved it. The irony is as a bookshop owner, you spend your days unpacking books and seeing new titles - I have between 6,000-8,000 on the shelves and I get tempted by new books every day. The result is I have hundreds of books I'm trying to read so I hope to do this when I retire." He said his favourite author was Jane Austen.

The bookshop currently employs one full-time member of staff and Mr Makinson hopes someone will come forward to take on the bookshop. He is willing to help someone set it up to keep the tradition alive - otherwise he is resigned to returning stock and sell off books.

The bookshop succeeded Holt Books, another independent. At that time there were two second-hand bookshops in the town but both have now closed.

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