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The little shop around the corner ... in Nairobi

There's a great piece in Business Africa Daily about the relocation and success of a Nairobi bookstore. Salim and Naazleen Alibhai, co-owners of Book Villa, run their business as a cross between a bookstore and a library. An annual fee allows readers to borrow all the books they like. Those they wish to purchase they buy at a discount.

Apparently the store had a cramped storefront location until recently when it moved upstairs in an office tower. Book Villa has lost the advantage of traffic from the street but the store now has more spacious quarters – better for browsing – and is now able to also offer both snacks and full meals.

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Book Villa has been a big success with locals but interestingly, it does not offer an extensive array of African writers. The store's owners explain that it has to do with marketing. The Harry Potter books, they say, benefit from intense publicity. Even in Africa, local writers do not.

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