The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Friday 11 September 2015

Image: Tony Webster

Crossing the line

Fences and walls are back. From Hungary’s half-hearted attempt to stop refugees arriving from Serbia to Tunisia’s more serious effort to prevent would-be terrorists slipping in from Libya, barriers between nations are on the agenda once more. It is becoming a big business: the global homeland security market is expected to be worth €480bn by 2018. As with any growing international industry, the companies with domestic experience are at the front of the queue. The US last year awarded a huge contract for surveillance systems for the US-Mexico border to Elbit, an Israeli contractor that had previously done the same for a barrier along the West Bank. For more on this story pick up the new issue of Monocle, on newsstands next week.

Image: Rodrigo Reyes Marin/AFLO

Taking on Amazon

A new book by Haruki Murakami is always a newsworthy event and his latest is no exception. Shokugyo Toshiteno Shosetsuka (Novelist as a Vocation), a collection of essays about Murakami’s career, is being mobilised to help Japan’s beleaguered bookshops take on the might of the online booksellers. Small Japanese bookshops, which usually buy their books from publishers via distributors, regularly complain that they can’t get their hands on popular titles. With the likes of Amazon buying up the bulk of available copies, high-street bookshops are left scrapping over the crumbs. This time, Kinokuniya, a Tokyo bookshop operator, has taken matters into its own hands. It has bypassed the usual middlemen, bought 90 per cent of the book’s first print run from the publishers and says it will supply to other bookshops at a fair price. The fightback starts here.

Image: Kelagopian

Yes they Cannes

Sustainability is the watchword at this year’s Cannes Yachting Festival, taking place on the Côte d’Azur until 13 September. Design innovations, lighter materials and new propulsion methods all mean that many of the newest models on display across Vieux Port and Port Pierre Canto can claim to use less fuel than their predecessors. While their owners may not be the sorts of folk to fret about oil (unless it’s of the suntan variety), for the industry it’s important that its image gets cleaner and greener.

Image: Rüdiger Nehmzow

German treasure trove

It started 28 years ago as a catalogue merchant, albeit one with a vision that well-made products would outlast the tide of cheap imports. And today retailer Manufactum has amassed an almost cultish following. Now with eight shops in its native Germany, it sells clothing, as well as tools for homes, offices, kitchens and gardens. What’s telling is that despite the availability and relative cheapness of e-commerce, many still look forward to perusing the pages of its printed catalogue. Proof perhaps that retailers should look beyond the boundaries of online shopping if they want to build a brand and foster a lasting relationship with customers. “We’ve done things step by step,” says managing director Manfred Ritter. “We do what we are convinced is right and find a way to execute it.” We’re sold on the idea.

From Monocle 24

Image: Harold Navarro

How New York and London learn from each other

Planning plays an essential role in ensuring a city stays on track and tackles its problems in a timely manner. In New York, this task has been made easier by relying on an old friend: London. Carl Weisbrod, director of New York City’s department of City Planning, talks to The Urbanist about similarities between the cities.

From Monocle Films

Bare Essentials – Bikini Berlin

Bikini Berlin is a redesigned complex mixing retail, culture and creative thinking about public space. Once a fading relic of the Cold War, intelligent ideas from its new tenants are helping to redefine the shopping-mall model.

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