It’s Independent Bookshop Week until June 22, part of the Bookseller’s ‘Books Are My Bag‘ campaign. So, while we’re celebrating independent bookshops in the UK and Ireland, we’ve been thinking about some of our favourite indie bookshops – both in Liverpool, and a bit further afield.
These are a few that are close to our hearts, but keep an eye out on the indies near with a full programme of events, reading groups, storytelling, author signings, literary lunches and face painting this week… For more information, head to https://indiebookshopweek.org.uk/.
News from Nowhere
This independent bookshop is perhaps Liverpool’s best known, situated on Bold Street in the city centre. It’s a radical and community not-for-profit collective, with all decisions made as part of a team effort – the shop first opened on May Day 1974 and has run as a women worker’s operative since 1981. The be-your-own-boss attitude and membership of the Alliance of Radical Booksellers influences the books it sells, with texts ranging from feminist literature and LGBT books, to anti-racism and anti-war books and a stack of radical ideas.
The NfN team also raises awareness and campaigns for various equality and justice initiatives – both locally and internationally – and encourages customers to take part in events around Liverpool which are aimed at bringing people together. It’s always been massively supportive of our books, too, and has got involved in some of our events, joining us at Folken to talk about independence. Well worth a visit…
Henry Bohn Books
London Road’s Henry Bohn Books is an absolute treasure trove of the you-don’t-find-them-any-more variety. An extensive supply of books ranges from antiquarian to modern classics, with a substantial collection of history, literature and art titles, alongside travel, topography and natural history. Wooden shelves hug each wall, with stacks of books and a long central table laden holds a broad collection of classical and Jazz LPs and CDs.
This family-friendly bookshop in Heswall on Wirral was voted the Number One Bookshop in the North in 2012, and the overall winner of the Independent Bookshop of the Year Award in 2013. It stocks a huge range of books, toys, greetings cards and stationery and guarantees that it can get hold of any title it doesn’t stock. A variety of events – from book clubs with wine and snacks to poetry evenings – give people a chance to get their poetry heard, including Bumfuzzle poet and musician, Keith Wilson. Linghams is passionate about getting young people involved in reading, with ‘storytime’ events for toddlers and babies, free author visits and events at local schools. In an age of technology, its mission is to demonstrate the joy brought about by reading.
Reid of Liverpool
Reid’s is an antiquarian and used bookshop, based on the doorstep of both of Liverpool’s universities, on Mount Pleasant. Opening in 1975, it remains rich in history, in a shop which is amongst the only surviving Georgian, purpose-built retail premises in Liverpool, dating from around 1785.
The second-hand bookshop holds over 40,000 titles, from academic, science, fiction and arcane, buying and selling books on most subjects – which makes it perfect for picking up course books at cheap prices. Its homely feel is epitomised by the resident cat, who wanders the shop, seeing what customers are up to.
Ler Devagar Bookstore in Lisbon
We headed to Ler Devagar when we went to Web Summit in Lisbon, to see for ourselves why it’s been named one of the ten most beautiful bookstores in the world. Its place within the cool LX Factory enclave is a perfect setting, with scores of other independents, cafés and bars. Housed in an old newspaper printer, the presses remain upstairs for customers to wander around, and the permanent exhibition of the artist Pietro Prosperio provides a unique Lisbon cultural experience.
Its famous flying bicycle sculpture hangs above shoppers, adding to the sense that literature can take people places and allow them to experience things which they never have before. Alongside a range of titles on arts and creativity, Ler Devagar – which translates at ‘read slowly’ – holds concerts, workshops, debates and author events to engage people with reading, including in its two coffee shops.
Posman Books, Chelsea Market, New York
NYC’s Chelsea Market is a haven for independents, packed full of makers, bakers and butchers… and bookshops. Stretching a block long and a block wide under the High Line, the market’s boutique indie bookstore includes a beautiful selection of bestsellers, literature, biographies, histories, cookbooks and travel guides, alongside stationery, cards and a stack of gifts. Its recommended reading is all hand-picked by staff, with comments and mini-reviews for each one.
It also stocks the mouthwatering Chelsea Market Cookbook, a round-up of recipes from some of the traders in its famous old food hall, which reflects the Meatpacking District’s long history of food production and retail. The former National Biscuit Company Factory s now home to more than 35 food vendors, and an ever-growing variety of independent makers, artists and sellers.
Joanna Cooper and Fiona Shaw; research by Joanna Cooper