Building on a model from Tokyo, publisher Monocle has opened its own newsagents. Manager Maverick Pettit-Taylor says it’s inspired as much by cafes and bookshops as the traditional CTN. Jennifer Hardwick meets him.
When Kioskafé was opened in October 2015, its owner, the publisher Monocle, had one goal. Editor-in-chief Tyler Brulé said the business would aim to be “a celebration of print – putting the written word, fine images and crisp paper centre stage”, and the publisher has created a magazine store in the heart of London which is far from ordinary.
Kioskafé is inspired by book and magazine stores in Japan, where the culture of combining a café with that kind of retail is well-established.
Kioskafé has a food counter which offers high-quality pastries and sandwiches, the most popular item being a Swedish bun with cinnamon and cardoon from nearby Fabrique Bakery. The menu also includes coffee priced between £2.50 and £3, a glass of prosecco for £6 or wine from £5 and beer from £3.
But the main attraction for customers is Kioskafé’s huge range of magazines which extends with a regularly constant stream of new titles.
Manager Maverick Pettit-Taylor, who has been in charge since it opened, has added 50 new magazines in the last six months.
“As our traffic has increased we’ve been able to add more magazines,” he says. “We are selective when we try new titles because we only have limited shelf space. But we like to think we have a good idea of what will work because we know our customers.”
We really know the magazines, who writes them and who designs them. That compels people to buy them
Like the store itself, the magazines on sale are far from the average and from the usual top 100 bestsellers. The core customer base is international travellers who visit to stock up on reading material ahead of a trip. Prices vary from £5 to £25, and the most popular sectors are design, business and lifestyle.
“We find content-heavy magazines and long-form journalism titles sell the best,” says Maverick.
“People appreciate a well-designed, high-quality magazine. Our customers will come in every couple of months and buy a big stack for their next trip.”
Best-selling titles vary month by month but include “slow journalism” title Delayed Gratification, academic fashion magazine Vestoj and lifestyle and culture biannual Kennedy.
Maverick says customers tend to linger longest at a table placed at the front of the shop containing new titles and staff favourites. Maverick and his team use that time to speak to them about the magazines and draw their attention to titles they think customers should try.
“We really know the magazines, who writes them and who designs them. That compels people to buy them. They know they can trust us,” he says.
“I keep some back copies of popular titles and it’s so satisfying when somebody asks for something they’ve been looking for everywhere and we’ve got it.”
The final flourish and key attraction for international customers is a machine which prints a choice of 2,848 foreign newspapers on demand. The process earns around £10 and costs £3 per newspaper, and Maverick says customers enjoy the concept, with its main users being people who have moved to the UK from abroad.
Customers’ differing reasons for visiting amount to different peak hours for the store. Its popularity with office workers means the store is busier in the week than at weekends.
“In the morning customers are in and out for coffee, but around lunchtime people stay and browse or sit down and chat or have meetings and that’s when more magazines are bought,” says Maverick.
“The peak magazine buying time is mid-morning to mid-afternoon.”
With the store now well established, Maverick says the next step is more evening events. Monocle already uses the space for its own events, and a natural extension could be sessions for Kioskafé customers, including presentations from independent publishers.