Ayşen Boylu, owner and manager of Homer Kitabevi bookshops talks about business as an English-language bookseller in Turkey.
Where is Homer Kitabevi? We have six branches. The main branch is at the cultural centre of Istanbul (Beyoglu); three branches are Campus Bookstores at Sabancı University and Bilgi University in İstanbul, one is in Ankara (the capital city of Turkey) and the last one is a Museum Shop.
How large is the shop and how many books do you have on display at any one time? The main branch is approximately 250 square metres over three floors in a historic building at the heart of the city centre at Beyoğlu. The Ankara branch is 200 square metres and all the others are changing. We have around 35,000 titles at our main branch and 30,000 at Ankara. The books are both in English and Turkish, however we have always more books in English. We do many events also at our Main Branch at Beyoğlu.
How many people work in your shops? In total now 24: at the main branch there are six, at Ankara four and the rest are at the other shops and in the office.
What type of books do you sell? We are selling books in English and Turkish, and our collection is mostly academic titles on humanities. We specialise in archaeology, history, philosophy, photography, cookbooks, art, architecture, literary fiction, children’s books, travel and books on Turkey.
How long have you had the business? Twenty-two years.
Where do your customers come from? 20% are expats, 40% are academics, 5% are tourist and rest are locals.
How would you describe the current state of the book trade in Turkey? The book trade will change into other types and I think in Turkey we still need five or more years for this change. Big cities will be affected quickly, but we have a huge population. The book business will change to a different format maybe. The book will always be a prestigious object so bookshops will be prestigious too. The style will change to less like a bookshop and more like a multi-purpose cultural centre: a meeting place for many book-related events also.
What do you most enjoy about being a bookseller? When people find a book on your shelves that they are looking for and you see the smile on their face. Or a young reader finding her/himself in a wonderful world again at our shelves and travelling with that book to a magical book world.
Is there anything that you don’t like about the job? There are lots of professional works I could not read. And also I would be so pleased if people could buy more books so that I could afford to buy more for our collection.
How do you choose which books to stock? In the first years my professional background helped me, and now experience…
Do you organise events in your shop, such as book signings? Yes, we host many events. Some are regular events and some depend on the monthly newcomers or such like. We have regular academic workshop groups, conversation groups, book clubs, etc.
Which books are selling well at the moment? Cookbooks, philosophy, children’s books, photography and books on Turkey.
Do you sell books online? Yes we do at www.homerbooks.com
How do you get your books from the UK? We use World Wide Book Services (WBS).
What are you reading at the moment? Release Your Inner Roman by Marcus Sidonius Falx (Jerry Toner).
How long have you been using Batch? I do not remember– maybe ten years?
How does Batch help your business? It is so easy to see all the invoices, and pay at once without any problem, so for the small amounts it is also very easy to transfer to publisher. Also Claims are working so well. And when there is any problem Linda [Bowles] solves everything on time with the publisher and all of us are happy at the end.
Is there anything we could do to improve our service to you? More publishers! And same style for US accounts. Thank you. [Non-US booksellers can now pay MPS - Macmillan Publisher Services via their Batch account.]
Yeni Carsi Cad No 52 Galatasaray 34433
Beyoğlu – Istanbul
Tel. +90 212 2495902
Fax. +90 212 2513962