Libreria Verso in Milan: digital tools bring a new community of readers

The history of Verso is split into two periods: before and after the pandemic. “With the lockdown we had to invent a new way of being booksellers”. Antonio is in charge of communications and events for Verso, a Milan bookshop that was opened in 2015 by five friends with a passion for publishing. Over the past year, the staff has been working hard to maintain a meeting place for its community of aficionados, by adding a good dose of creativity and digital technology.

“Before, we would have two book presentations a day. These were crowded, informal meetings, that often ended up with a spritz at our coffee shop. But in March 2020 all of this stopped”. That’s when the bookshop’s second life began, with the web playing a decisive role. Against all odds, during this time book sales increased. “Our website shifted from having a window display role to being an online catalog. Before that, mailing an order was a once-in-a-while thing, now we are handling 4 to 5 orders from Italy and abroad each day. With this increase in book sales, we have almost made up for our losses since the closing of our coffee shop”.

The next step was to take events online. “The Post function in Google My Business made it easy to communicate appointments, such as the Glitch Book Club, a reading group on Google Meet”. In addition to exploiting the opportunities offered by the web, the lockdown pushed its owners into finding original ways of keeping a direct line with their customers. One in particular was Verso Pedala: “We started doing home delivery by bike in our area and soon had the whole city covered”. Very often, “the time that goes from book order to delivery takes slightly over an hour: a record, when considering our competitors who are much bigger than us!”.

Digital interaction and Google My Business have brought in a community of readers from all over Italy, who follow and truly support us. This turned out to be an unexpected resource that we will build on even when we go back to interacting in person at the bookshop: two channels that can work together and help each other.

Antonio, Bookseller and communication specialist, Libreria Verso

Location

Milan, Italy

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