At Gifts for Readers & Writers, in 2021, we’ve decided to toot our own horn, do some drum rolling and generally make ourselves a bit more….heard. After all, is there any other company in the world offering such a great and comprehensive selection for lovers of reading whether with books or with tech?
To kick things off, we interviewed our chief honcho, Gary Lancet, who designed our first product, the Bookchair®, 23 years ago!
GFRW: In what way were things different when you started in 1998?
Gary: Of course 23 years ago – last century - is a long time these days, when there have been so many technological developments since then. The internet was still relatively in its infancy (Google was only founded that year), and ecommerce only really getting going (Amazon just four years old). If you walked into a bookshop, you’re really only going to see books, and very often in a haphazard way. I think the technological developments we have seen have forced bookshops to be more logical in the layout within stores, which is great on one level, but loses some of the adventure and quirkiness that there used to be. And the other big difference was the almost complete absence of gifts and accessories for reading which is commonplace now. I like to think that I helped to change that when I launched the Bookchair® which immediately was visible in most bookshops, as well as other bookmarks that we followed up with soon after.
GFRW: How has Covid affected the company?
Gary: We have been fortunate to be selling products that are actually useful to people when they are having to stay at home more. There’s plenty of research showing how adults and children are reading more, and of course they want to be comfortable doing so. And equally they are using their devices more, so our tech accessories have proven popular there too. We were already making efforts to sell more online, and our new website has helped to make this easier for consumers. Also, because a lot of stores have been closed over this time, we have had more time to develop new products, so we have more great new items than ever before to launch this year. Of course on a personal level, the lives of all our members of the company have been affected, and not always in a good way, as each has borne challenges and a curtailment of freedoms.
GFRW: What new products can we look forward to this year?
Gary: We’ve got a lot more booklights, which is one of our best-selling categories. I’m very excited about our rechargeable booklight, which will be the safest and most powerful on the market. And in my opinion, the most attractive too! We have more wonderful book holders and bookmarks, for adults and children, and a very cool doggie shaped cord organiser for those who use tech for their reading and writing. We are also finally launching our pen bookmarks, and everyone I have spoken to, wants one, and I certainly use them myself and find indispensable now. Plus a couple of other items that will reveal themselves soon!
GFRW: How do you think things will change 20 years from now?
Gary: I think Covid has taught us that it’s impossible to predict the future! But I guess it would be reasonable to suppose that we will more and more be entering the world of the Matrix and online selling will become mainstream with retail outlets becoming the exception, sad though this may be for social interaction etc. I hate to be full of doom, but I think a consciousness of possible further pandemics may hasten this development. Looking on the bright side, it is my hope and expectation that in the future there will be more time for reading and writing, which will always continue to nourish the soul.