Egypt’s Alef chain is coming to London:
With bookstore business on the upswing in Egypt, one of the big chains — Alef — is going international, moving into a space in London.
The Alef chain was founded just six years ago, in 2009, with a first shop in Heliopolis. That was just seven years after its successful predecessor Diwan opened its doors, sparking a new investment in upscale bookshops.
Within its first year, Alef had opened six more branches. In 2010, the chain launched its unique “Taxi of Knowledge” project, and there are now more than twenty Alef branches, with the newest set to open next month at 219a Baker Street in London, suspiciously close to 221b.
Although Alef asserts on their franchising page that the “books industry is booming in Egypt,” the state of UK bookshoppery has not — seemingly — been so rosy, with the number of independent bookstores falling below 1,000 last year “for the first time.”
But, in any case, surely there is room for another bookshop in London focused on “Arabic books, international bestsellers & new releases, kids books, stationery & book accessories,” as Alef promises.
The manager of the new Alef, Farah Taylor (@farahtaylor1), is available on Twitter, and there’s also a new UK-focused handle, @AlefBooksUK, as well as an Alef UK Facebook page.
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