Chapters, Ireland’s largest independent bookstore, has been loved for forty years by both loyal and new customers, causing the Irish bookstore to ‘rise from the dead’, so to speak, early last year. A go-to for inexpensive, second-hand books, Chapters is a must-visit for any book lover looking for something fresh to read.
Chapters: a hidden gem among independent bookstores
Chapters was first opened in 1983 on Wicklow Street by couple William and Ger Kinsella. Since the Kinsellas opened, the store has moved four times (St. Stephen’s Green, Henry Street, Abbey Street) before finding its current location on Parnell Street in 2006.
Offering a selection of new releases, and second-hand books, Chapters has been, and continues to be, a place where avid-readers can go and immerse themselves in the world of literature and are sure to find something interesting to read.
In January of 2022, Chapters Bookstore made the devastating announcement that they would be closing their doors for good after nearly forty years of trading. The bookstore was able to remain open throughout the pandemic, which, unfortunately, cannot be said for many other shops. They were able to remain open thanks to the over-the-phone and online ordering process and the kerbside pickup system they had set up during those difficult months.
Unfortunately, however, in recent years, it has become easier and more common practice to order and buy things online. And this is no different when it comes to buying books. Because of this, Chapters had to make the difficult decision to close its doors.
This news spread through the country fast, with devastated customers sharing their disappointment over the news.
One long-time customer of the store commented that Chapters is “more than a bookshop, it’s really a bit of Dublin” while another noted that the closing of the beloved bookstore was a “great loss to Dublin” and that the bookshop was a “wonderful resource for all age groups.” It truly felt as though a part of Dublin’s history was being lost with the closure of this beloved Dublin staple.
Throughout the final weeks of January 2022, Chapters had various sales in order to attempt to get rid of stock for their final closure. Each week held a sale, from buy one get one free, to most books costing a certain price for the week.
Hundreds of people flooded the bookstore, and there were huge queues to enter the bookstore in its final weekend. At one point, an employee commented, “we were not expecting this many people to show up so we had to set a limit of customers inside of the shop so you would still be able to move easily.”
On January 31st 2022, Chapters closed its doors for the final time… Or so people thought.
Its miraculous return
Just a few short months after its closure, Chapters announced that it would be returning under new management. This delighted old customers who had thought they would never see their beloved bookstore in operation again.
Chapters was bought, for an undisclosed amount, by business duo Kevin Neary and Mick Finucane, former directors of Gamestop, and ‘old friends’ of William Kinsella. After the announcement that the store was set to close, and upon seeing the outpour of love and sadness attached to this news, Neary and Finucane were determined to not let this special part of Dublin’s history die.
Finucane noted that after seeing all of the love and support, and how important the bookshop was to so many people, he and his business partner “started looking to see if there was anything that [they] could do to save it.”
On the 11th of March 2022, the bookshop made a comeback, opening back up with its former employees and its manager from before. The duo are “very honoured to be able to bring Chapters back.”
Along with Chapters’ exciting re-opening, Neary and Finucane have managed to launch the first ecommerce website for the store where customers can order from Chapters. There is an option for customers to have their orders delivered or to be able to pick them up from the store. Pre-ordering is also made available for customers on any new releases that are due to arrive at the store.
Even with these new owners, Chapters is always happy for customers to trade in their old books for store credit that can be spent to make their next read even more affordable.
Chapters: a TikTok sensation
Since its re-opening in early 2022, Chapters has made a name for itself on TikTok. It was recently nominated for TikTok’s Independent Bookseller of the Year award. Chapters is the only Irish store nominated for these awards.
There are many categories within the TikTok Book Awards, however there are only two Irish nominees, Chapters bookstore, and Sally Rooney (in the category of Best Book I Wish I Could Read Again For The First Time for her novel Normal People (2018)).
Over the pandemic, more people have gotten back into reading. This growing interest in books, and the immense success the store has had on TikTok will hopefully mean a continued support for the bookstore both from Irish people, and those who make a visit from far and wide after seeing the wonderful environment on the popular video-sharing app. The store even has a section called ‘BookTok’ where they share the books that have been trending on TikTok that week.
A new beginning upstairs
Prior to the pandemic, Chapters’ top floor housed all of the second hand books where shoppers could spend hours browsing the numerous titles people had traded in. Today, the top floor of the bookstore is home to a 14,000 square feet urban garden centre/ garden store cafe.
Arboretum Urban Garden, now on the top floor of Chapters bookstore, offers plants, garden accessories, furniture, a wellness and gifting department, and an all-day dining menu in its 60-seater cafe.
If you’re looking for a new bookshop where you’re sure to find an endless supply of books for affordable prices, and friendly staff, Chapters is definitely the place to visit. The outpour of love and support displayed by its customers after hearing of its closure in late January last year proves enough how welcoming and friendly Chapters really is for literature fans. Why not give it a go yourself?