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A small family-owned bookshop in England has received a huge boost to business, following a random tweet on Twitter. The Petersfield Bookshop, in the small town of Petersfield, England tweeted about how they hadn’t sold a single book on January 14. The weather was partly to blame but business has been difficult for the store in recent years. Competition from Amazon and other online retailers has been problematic for small bookshops around the world.

Part of the tweet from the bookstore read, “Not a single book sold today…We think this may be the first time ever”. The tweet started to slowly gain traction with people retweeting it until the author Neil Gaiman, with over 2 million followers, retweeted it himself. This caused the tweet to go mainstream and it now has over 9,000 retweets and almost 19,000 likes. After Gaiman retweeted the post, the bookshop became inundated with inquiries from people interested in buying books. They have since been working overtime to fulfil all of the orders.

The news of the bookstore’s tweet and subsequent business boost spread across the UK online and via TV news. There have been reports of independent bookstores around the UK receiving boosts to their businesses as a result of the news of The Petersfield Bookshop’s struggle. Another bookshop in the UK, The House of Fables, called The Petersfield Bookshop to tell them how they became a lot busier after people heard about the story from Petersfield.

Independent bookstores in the UK and around the world have been in decline for many years. Amazon, chain stores and other big retailers have been eating into the already small profits of independent bookstores. In the UK, many have been struggling to keep up, the number of bookshops in the UK halved between 2005 and 2017. More recently, bookshops have seen a slight resurgence in the UK with the total number of stores increasing for the first time in 11 years.

It’s uncertain whether this boost for The Petersfield Bookshop and other independent stores in the UK will signify a more permanent turnaround of fortunes.

Difficult words

Problematic (adj): Causing problems.

Traction (n): Gaining popularity or acceptance.

Mainstream (adj): Ideas or attitudes shared by most people.

Inundated (v): To be overwhelmed with things or people.

Inquiry (n): A question.

Overtime (n): Time worked more than normal.

Subsequent (adj): Coming after something else.

Resurgence (n): An increase or renewal of something.

Turnaround (n): An abrupt and unexpected change.

Activities

For listening practise, listen to the recorded article here:

British English: Coming Soon!

American English: 

Match the Synonym!

1. Problematic A. Widely accepted.
2. Traction B. Renewal
3. Mainstream C. Work more.
4. Inundated D. Become popular.
5. Inquiry E. Change
6. Overtime F. Question
7. Subsequent G. Troublesome
8. Resurgence H. Following
9. Turnaround I. Overwhelmed

True or False?

1.  A large company owned a small bookshop. T / F

2.  The bookshop posted on Twitter about their lack of sales. T / F

3. The bookshop hadn’t sold a single book for the day. T / F

4. The bookshop still has not received any extra book orders. T / F

5. A famous author helped the bookshop get the word out. T / F

6. Many small bookshops have seen an increase in sales since Amazon started. T / F

7. The bookshop needed to work overtime after their tweet. T / F

8.  News about the bookshop was not broadcasted on TV. T / F

9. The bookshop was located in Germany. T / F

10. Other bookshops have been positively affected by the tweet as well. T / F

Unscramble the sentence!

1. family-owned / huge boost / received / A / small / has / bookshop / in England / a

2. traction / tweet / to / The / slowly / gain / started

3. 9,000 retweets / and / over / the tweet / it now / caused / mainstream / has / to go / This

4. independent / around / reports / been / the UK / have / There / bookstores / of

5. and / the UK / been / have / around / in / the world / Independent bookstores / in / decline

Listening and Vocabulary

Listen to the article and fill in the words OR practice vocabulary and fill in the words.

British English: Coming Soon!

American English: 

Retailers Followers Independent
Decline Retweets Boost
Signify Struggle Partly

A small family-owned bookshop in England has received a huge (1)___________ to business, following a random tweet on Twitter. The Petersfield Bookshop, in the small town of Petersfield, England tweeted about how they hadn’t sold a single book on January 14. The weather was (2)___________ to blame but business has been difficult for the store in recent years. Competition from Amazon and other online (3)___________ has been problematic for small bookshops around the world.

Part of the tweet from the bookstore read, “Not a single book sold today…We think this may be the first time ever”. The tweet started to slowly gain traction with people retweeting it until the author Neil Gaiman, with over 2 million (4)_____________, retweeted it himself. This caused the tweet to go mainstream and it now has over 9000 (5)____________ and almost 19,000 likes. After Gaiman retweeted the post, the bookshop became inundated with inquiries from people interested in buying books. They have since been working overtime to fulfil all of the orders.

The news of the bookstore’s tweet and subsequent business boost spread across the UK online and via TV news. There have been reports of independent bookstores around the UK receiving boosts to their businesses as a result of the news of The Petersfield Bookshop’s (6)_____________. Another bookshop in the UK, The House of Fables, called The Petersfield Bookshop to tell them how they became a lot busier after people heard about the story from Petersfield.

Independent bookstores in the UK and around the world have been in (7)___________ for many years. Amazon, chain stores and other big retailers have been eating into the already small profits of (8)_______________ bookstores. In the UK, many have been struggling to keep up, the number of bookshops in the UK halved between 2005 and 2017. More recently, bookshops have seen a slight resurgence in the UK with the total number of stores increasing for the first time in 11 years.

It’s uncertain whether this boost for The Petersfield Bookshop and other independent stores in the UK will (9)____________ a more permanent turnaround of fortunes.

Conversation Questions

Take turns speaking with a partner or try to answer on your own:

1. Did you find this article interesting? Why or why not?
2. Did you learn anything new from this article? If so, what?
3. What do you think of this story?
4. Where do people buy books in your country?
5. Do you prefer to shop online or in-store?
6. Are digital versions of books, movies or music more popular in your country than real versions?
7. Do you prefer to shop in independent or large chain stores?
8. Is it important to buy things from independent stores?
9. Does your country have any laws to protect independent shops?
10. Do you think there will still be independent shops 10 years from now?
11. What other industries have been hurt by the internet?
12. Has your job been affected negatively by the internet?
13. Is there anything that you would never want to buy online?
14. If you owned an independent shop, what kind would it be?
15. Is it a risk to open an independent shop these days?
16. How can independent stores change to be successful these days?
17. Have you noticed any small businesses close in your area?
18. Does this story make you want to support your local independent stores?
19. Have you heard any stories of social media helping businesses in your country?
20. Do you think the boost in business will be permanent for the bookshop?