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The Writers' Shop Open Shelves

We helped the oldest independent book shop in Hungary become an e-commerce hero with a 910% increase in sales, all whilst staying true to their story.




The global book market is dominated by technologically advanced companies with great infrastructure, which makes small businesses unable to compete, especially in online sales. This is the core reason for the struggles of a 90m² bookstore that has been operating for 70 years in Hungary: The Writers' Shop.

Neither in pricing nor in communication are they a match for the big guys. The shop nevertheless chose not to switch to mainstream books, and stayed true to its expert service and friendly atmosphere. In other words, they maintained the reasons that many writers, poets, actors and public figures visited the shop.

But - online sales had to be boosted one way or another in order to survive. They were hoping for a solution that would fit the shop's cult spirit yet would make them competitive.


The only competitive advantage of The Writers' Shop lies in the fact that they are small. Shop assistants call their customers by name, and the books on display here represent quality. So, in order to scale up and compete, we proposed that the store manager asked celebrities who were active in Budapest culture to digitally open their personal bookshelves to the general public. 35 celebrities joined the initiative.

The goal was to increase traffic to to the webshop through their personal recommendations. That way, people could browse through the books of the 'Open Shelves' available on the store's website and could even buy them. The user experience was almost the same as when physically in the bookstore. With virtually no costs, we generated great PR interest around the store. We invited celebrities who joined the campaign willingly and for free, happily acting as influencers and sharing their Open Shelves.

The campaign was launched online with a personal invitation from the store manager, János. In a Facebook video, he asked the shop's friends to donate their shelves in order to virtually expand the store. It took 2 days for the celebrities to respond and join the campaign. We photographed their bookshelves within a few days and make book review videos with them. The shelves could be fully viewed in the Open Shelves webshop for a month (April 2019) and the book review videos were distributed on social media (Facebook, Instagram and YouTube), and digital CLPs.


Thanks to the video reviews, personal memories and shelves, The Writers' Shop's online sales were 910% higher than in the same period in 2018.

The celebrities took part in the campaign on a pro bono basis. Earned media reached 200,000 Euros.