Short Stories

By Michelle M. Havich

Photo by Ryan Madill Photography

For a true book lover, there is nothing like a real book—the feel and smell of the pages, that wonderful little “crack” sound a new book makes when you first open it—we cherish it all. And it is the true book lover that Toronto-based figure3 had in mind when designing Penguin Shop, a 158-sq.-ft. bookstore in the lobby of Penguin Random House Canada’s Toronto headquarters.

You read that right. This shop is only 158 sq. ft. (it used to be a shoe repair kiosk!), but it is chock full of treasures for serious book lovers.

“They wanted to have a space, not to become retailers in the classic sense, but a space in which they could engage serious book lovers,” says Marjorie Mackenzie, vice president of retail for figure3. “They wanted to experiment not just with titles, but also with products—mugs, pins and all of these wonderful products for the book lover.”

The bright Penguin logo on the back wall catches people’s attention, but the main focal point of the store also is its most functional—what Mackenzie calls the “Alice in Wonderland” bookshelves. The floor-to-ceiling bookshelves look like giant bookends when pushed all the way into the wall. One is a cabinet for the POS system and storage, and one hides away the gate closure. The other four have two-sided, fully flexible display units on the inside. “You can take out shelves and put in pegs, whatever you need,” Mackenzie says. This flexible display design encourages repeat customers to come back and see what’s new.

All of the bookends are magnetic, and can easily be changed out depending on what is happening in the store that day, from author signings to specific themes or publications, Mackenzie says.

Looks like the interactive and engaging environment in this tiny bookstore has given book lovers and Penguin a happy ending to this design tale.


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