I want a bookshop

edited March 2011 in Local discussion
I've been reading about the travails of the Big Green Bookshop in Wood Green (http://woodgreenbookshop.blogspot.com) and much as I hope they survive, I'd love someone to open a bookshop like it round here.

Beacon is great, but it's a specialist bookshop and Prospero were driven out by high rents. What would we have to do to get one of the empty shops turned into a bookshop?
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Comments

  • edited March 2011
    The fact that the Big Green Bookshop is struggling, and it is in the centre of Wood Green with plenty of people passing by every day, is probably testament to how difficult it is to run a bookshop nowadays.

    The MIND charity shop has a pretty good selection of books, as do the various charity shops on Seven Sisters Road. The best of all is the big Oxfam in Dalston.
  • edited November -1
    And BGB is well under an hour away by foot - less for people who live deep in Stroud Green proper. I tend to think of it as my local bookshop, and did even before Prospero's (which for me never lived up to its name) went under.
    (I especially like the BGB quiz, even if I didn't win it last time I went)
  • edited November -1

    What would we need to do to get a bookshop open here?

    Hmmm. Buy real books (not ebooks) from a bookshop instead of online is the obvious answer.

    Having worked for independent bookshops and chain bookstores I can tell you that it's extremely hard to make money from running a bookshop, retail rents are high and the profit margins are low. Many people use a bookshop as a place to entertain their children and then leave without buying anything or to look at books that they like and then go and buy them online. I'd be surprised if anyone in SG (which as we know houses a reasonable number of literate and educated folk) spends more than £30 a month in an actual real life bookshop. Sadly with rents at around £1200 a month exc other overheads it's just not viable.

  • edited November -1

    The charity shop on the hill opposite Highgate tube is really good for books, has a whole room devoted to them. They're all sorted into sections and are reasonably priced. I got 2 books for £3. (A while ago MIND on SGR was wanting £7 for one of them!). There are 2 charity shops within a couple of doors of each other, I'm talking about the one further down the hill, can't vouch for the one further up as it was closed when I visited but might be worth a look.

    Have also found recent bargains in the newish animal charity (possibly RSPCA ?) shop on Blackstock rd, and the other one further down Blackstock, whose name escapes me.

    I found a shop selling new books on Euston Rd the other week where every book was £2. (Opposite the British Library, where the scaffolding is/was). There seemed to be a lot of crap, but I got a nice walking book.

  • edited November -1

    ... Which pretty much proves my point. People just aren't willing to spend money on books any more.

  • edited November -1
    The Blackstock road second hand place is great, as is OWL in Kentish Town and Walden books in Chalk Farm.

    Oh well. I promise if someone did open one in stroud green I'd spend £30 a month there. Now all we need is to find another hundred or so people
  • edited November -1

    I love Ripping Yarns, and I used Walden Books when I worked at Chalk Farm Bus Garage. Why doesn't anyone open a tea shop with a book selling area at the side. Tea, cakes and a good read, Bliss.

  • edited November -1

    If someone gives me the money I'll open one. I make an exquisite victoria sandwich and a decent brew, plus I look most fetching in my pinny.

  • edited November -1

    You'd need a very strict rule that no one was allowed to take a book into the tea shop without buying it. Otherwise you'd have people taking up tables all day without spending more than the price of a cuppa. I'd love to have a bookshop, I'd run it like Black Books.

  • edited November -1
    It's not just the high rents, its the rates as well that stiffy up the chances of a bookshop surviving.... the economic health of a High Street can be measured by how many charity shops there are (they get massive discounts on their rates). It always surprised there wasn't one in the Green Lanes stretch up to Turnpike lane.. but one opened last year. It has a reasonable book section with fair prices and not just clean paperbacks - I was amazed and annoyed that the MIND shop in SGR refused to take old books - "Too dusty, health and safety". They clean the clothes before they put them out, don't they?
  • edited November -1

    Some blurb re. Big Green Bookshop...

    ""This is a copy of the message that we have sent to the customers on our mailing list and which is now on our blog. If you can, we'd really appreciate any help you can give.

    "We absolutely love it here at the Big Green Bookshop. These have been the most rewarding 3 years of our working lives and we really don’t want it to end. The decision to open came about when the Waterstone’s we managed in the shopping centre nearby was suddenly closed with little warning. The public outcry at this decision made our minds up. After a lot of effort, a considerable amount of help from some amazing people, our redundancy money and a large loan from the bank for our stock and the building, we finally opened the Big Green Bookshop on March 8th 2008’

    It’s just that we can’t really afford to have another nine months like the nine we just had, and despite all your amazing support we are struggling.

    It was always our aim to try and be more than just a shop where you buy books, and since we opened we’ve tried to offer something for everyone:

    •Author events including Will Self, Mark Billingham, David Vann, Karen Maitland, Christopher Fowler, Laura Dockrill, Magnus Mills and even Maisy Mouse! •Musical evenings, film nights and historical walks •Well over 300 visits so far to the local schools in Haringey, Enfield and Barnet helping them to promote literacy with author visits, talks, storytelling and whatever else we can. •Monthly knitting groups, quizzes, writers groups and board games days (and we’re about to start a comedy night.) •Two book groups. •Weekly storytelling and singing for the under 5’s. •Supporting local talent by holding book launches, poetry readings and talks by the cream of North London’s literary stars. •Even a place to leave your shopping if it gets too heavy and to sit down with a free cup of tea or coffee. The list could go on, but we hope you get the idea.

    We sincerely hope that you want The Big Green Bookshop to remain here and value what we do and so we are asking for your help.

    Our bank loan now has nine months to go until it’s paid off. This is our biggest single outgoing each month. Once the loan has been paid off we will be in a relatively stable position.

    We want to address the short term issues and also the longer term ones, so;

    Firstly As our last newsletter announced, we’d like to set up The Big Green Bookshop Committee which will support the bookshop, offering suggestions & ideas to improve what we do for our customers in the future. The first meeting is this Sunday February 27th at 11am. Please come along.

    Secondly It’s the 3rd Anniversary of the Bookshop on March 8th. During the week 6th to 12th March we’re asking you all to buy just one extra book from the Big Green Bookshop. We have over 1,000 people on our loyalty card scheme & many of you who are reading this who aren’t. If each of you bought one extra book this would pretty much guarantee our survival.

    For those of you who cannot make it into the bookshop, but want to help, we take orders over the phone or on our website, and we’ve also set up a ‘donate now’ button at the top of our blog page if you have all the books you need but would still like to help us out. You can get to our blog here, <http://woodgreenbookshop.blogspot.com/ > We have some of the greatest customers in the world and we are constantly humbled by the support you show us.

    Thanks for reading this message.

    Simon, Tim and Mark"

  • edited November -1
    I do hate how many charity shops now won't take old books for one misguided reason or another. It just leaves their offerings looking the same as the high street bookshops which look the same as the supermarkets which all have stuff I can get easily enough online. I want bonkers old memoirs and monographs I'd never even known existed until I see them and have to have them, dammit!
  • edited November -1

    www.readitswapit.co.uk has become my bookshop over the last few weeks. Cheaper than a second hand bookshop/charity shop and provides an opportunity to get rid of my old stuff.

  • edited November -1

    I often look in charity shops for knitting needles for my charity project at the homeless family centre. Most of them say they don't sell them because 'it's against the law because people might use them to stab people' - so how come I can get them in a knitting shop or in a department store? It makes me sad to think that people donate them thinking they're going to a good cause then they're all just thrown away. By the way, if anyone has any they don't want, whisper me and I'll take them off your hands.

  • edited November -1
    Simply because that's absurd, doesn't mean it's not the rules under which they labour. Whenever I fly, I find myself looking around the cabin at all the things people have on their person that could be weaponised a damn sight easier than confiscated tweezers...
  • edited November -1

    Gah! Don't get me started...

  • edited November -1

    I never knew you have to get new knitting needles every now and again. Do they wear off? How?

  • edited March 2011

    Not because they wear out but because we get new people joining all the time who can't afford to buy them, and sometimes they break or go missing.

  • edited November -1

    If what you're bothered about is the charity making as much money as it can, you'll be satisfied to know that by not stocking every single little bit of crap, and focussing on stuff that sells, it will make more money for the charity.

    The key measure of a charity shop's financial success is how quickly it can turn over its stock. It turns over stock if it has stuff in it people want. People who shop in charity shops (mostly) want good cheap clothes and second hand books.

    If you want donated knitting needles, I imagine putting a general call out on here would turn up a stack of them.

  • edited November -1

    Thanks Andy, I tried that a while ago but nobody responded, I'll refresh the thread. We really do need them so if anyone has any please whisper me and I will collect, or they can be dropped off at The Homeless Family Project at the back of St John's Church on Gloucester Drive. Wool and patterns also accepted.

  • edited November -1

    When I was at school we used to have 'Bring a Book, Buy a Book' where everyone would bring at least one book they didn't want and they would be sold for charity at £1 each on the day. For every book you brought, you'd get a token giving you 20p off buying a book. Maybe we could do this in SG? Possibly something the book club could organise?

  • edited November -1
    The Lexington hosts swapping events (under the slightly embarrassing banner of 'Swishes') every few months. The next one (a week tomorrow) is clothes - and the last one was great for girls' stuff, less so for boys. But they do also run book and CD/vinyl swaps, where you have to take at least three (iirc) items and can then take away up to 15, all for no charge. Anything nobody wants on the day, goes to charity.
  • edited November -1
    Okay, so if I can't have a bookshop then how about this: http://portablebookshop.com/

    Any Stroud green business care to get involved?
  • edited November -1

    I like that and I love that they are asking for recommendations. Definitely going to get involved. http://portablebookshop.com/

  • edited November -1
    Thanks for the link Miss Annie.
  • edited November -1

    Maybe something that Bee could host in Sugar Lounge?

  • edited November -1
    It's really nice to find out that that bloke I always see in crouch end is not just a mad pirate...
  • edited November -1
    POrtable book shop; let's have it at the sugar lounge
  • edited November -1
    Shame about the bookshop in CE closing, definitely going to place a few orders through BGB.
  • edited November -1
    Oh, the mad pirate was at the Hornsey Library event on World Book Night! My friend spoke to him and apparently he was insisting he wasn't a pirate or a highwayman, just in 18th century dress. Which is slightly disingenuous given the fabrics, colour scheme &c, and reminds me a little too much of the standard goth defence on why exactly they're not goths...
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