Independent bookshops often support us in our creativity and community building; they offer a place for folks to convene in ways that the internet does not.
Here’s a run down of bookshops across the UK providing a selection of campaigning and activism literature, a selection of groups/spaces and selling one of a kind items from local designers.
Category Is Books, Glasgow
Category Is Books is a fiercely independent LGBTQIA+ bookshop in the southside of Glasgow, hoping to create a space to learn about, be inspired by and share in their love of queer culture, writing, histories and storytelling.
Address: 34 Allison Street, Glasgow, G42 8NN
Opening Times: Wednesday to Sunday (11am to 6pm)
Accessibility: The shop is level-access for wheelchair users. There are a number of seats around the shop. They are able to give guidance, read blurbs and support anyone with visual impairment. They also keep paper and pen by the till for anyone with hearing difficulties.
Cowley Club, Brighton
The Cowley Club is a social centre housing a cafe, bookshop, library, members bar and is a base for a variety of other projects. The club is collectively owned and run as a base for those involved in grassroots social change and run entirely by volunteers – no one gets paid, and no one is making any profit. Instead, they are trying to provide a much needed alternative to everything else around them.
Opening Times: Monday to Thursday (7pm to 11pm), Friday to Saturday (8pm to 12am), Sunday (2pm to 10.30pm)
Address: The Cowley Club, 12 London Road, Brighton, BN1 4JA
Accessibility: The bookshop is accessible as well as the main space via the main entrance. The wheelchair accessible toilet is located at the back by their garden, which is accessible at the back entrance to the club via a ramp
Five Leaves Bookshop, Nottingham
Five Leaves was set up in 1996 and has published around 200 literary, political, social history and other titles. In 2013 they secured a lease and opened a bookshop with a stock much wider than they publish, but with a strong emphasis on independent publishing.
Opening Times: Monday to Saturday (10am to 5.30pm), Sunday (12pm to 4pm)
Address: Five Leaves Bookshop, 14a Long Row, Nottingham, NG1 2DH
Accessibility: The shop has full disabled access
Gays the Word, London
London’s independent LGBT+ book specialist, offering a wide choice of LGBT+ books and film that goes well beyond the mainstream. With friendly, helpful staff, the shop has a genuine community atmosphere and hosts regular book events and discussion groups. They also supply to libraries, youth groups and academic institutions.
Opening Times: Monday to Saturday (10am to 6.30pm), Sunday (2pm to 6pm)
Address: 66 Marchmont St, London WC1N 1AB
Accessibility: There’s a very small step as you come in and 2/3rd down the bookshop there’s another small step
Housmans are a not-for-profit bookshop, stocking the largest range of radical newsletters, newspapers and magazines of any shop in Britain. They specialise in books, zines, and periodicals of radical interest and progressive politics. There’s also a £1 book basement!!!
Opening Times: Monday to Saturday (10am to 6.30pm) and Sunday (12pm to 6pm)
Address: 5 Caledonian Road, King’s Cross, London N1 9DX,
Accessibility: The main floor of Housmans has level access from the street. There are two steps leading to the back section of the shop, but they do have a ramp available. Their second-hand basement and ‘Vaults’ area are located downstairs, unfortunately there is no step free access. The toilet is only accessible by climbing 4 steps, but Housmans have negotiated with their current neighbours, Piebury Corner, that all Housmans visitors can use their wheelchair accessible toilet.
Just Books Collective, Belfast
Just Books has a history in Belfast that stretches back to the opening of the original Smithfield shop in June 1978 by the Belfast Anarchist Collective. While the shop closed its doors in June 1994 the Just Books Collective has continued to provide stalls at events such as grassroots gatherings, at Belfast’s annual May Day celebrations and Belfast and Dublin Anarchist Bookfairs. Just Books are currently between homes, but you can keep up to date with them on facebook to see where they set up shop next!
New Beacon Books, London
Founded in 1966, New Beacon Books was the UK’s first black publisher, specialist bookshop and international book distributor. For over 50 years New Beacon Books has made available to Britain and its communities poetry, literature, non –fiction, history and children’s books from Africa, Caribbean, Asia, African America, Europe, South America and Britain. Inspired by John La Rose’s political and cultural vision derived from experience in the Caribbean and South America, New Beacon was never just a book business. New Beacon as a publishing house has produced an important body of publications. The bookshop has been at the centre of many ground-breaking political and social projects, organisations and campaigns.
Opening Times: Tuesday to Saturday (11am to 6pm), Thursday (11am to 8pm)
Address: 76 Stroud Green Road, London, N4 3EN
Accessibility: They do not have a ramp at the entrance for wheelchair access but can assist if required with wheelchair users
News from Nowhere, Liverpool
Established in 1974, Liverpool’s not-for-profit radical & community bookshop is run collectively by a women workers’ co-operative. It has always been much more than just a bookshop. In its day-to-day work, the collective tries to put into practice its ideals. For example, staff all receive equal rates of pay; decisions are made collectively – there is no boss; toys and a comfy chair are provided in the children’s area for tired or breastfeeding mums; many lesbians and gay men have found it a welcoming port of call when taking their first steps to “coming out”. And on a wider level, many campaigns have been supported practically and with information over the years.
Opening Times: Monday to Saturday (10am to 5.45pm), Sundays (11am to 5pm)
Address: News From Nowhere, 96 Bold Street, Liverpool L1 4HY
Accessibility: The shop is wheelchair accessible on one level, and they keep the space between the shelves and display tables wide enough for a person using a wheelchair
October Books, Southampton
October Books is an independent community bookshop based in Southampton. It’s a not-for-profit co-operative, which means that the money made goes back into the business. They sell books, hand-made greeting cards, organic/fair-trade food and drinks, household items and more.
Opening Times: Monday to Sunday (9am to 6pm)
Address: 189 Portswood Rd, Southampton, SO17 2NF
Accessibility: To access the shop there is one step with two handles on either side of the door. A ramp is available on request. Everything is all on one level
People’s Bookshop, Durham
The People’s Bookshop is an independent, radical bookshop in the heart of Durham City, dealing mainly in second-hand books. They aim to fill the gaps left behind by the headlong rush towards best-sellers, e-books and add-on sales and believe that bookshops should reflect their communities.
Opening Times: Tuesday to Friday (12pm to 5pm) and Saturday (10am to 5pm)
Address: The Attic, Saddlers Yard, 70 Saddler Street, Durham
Accessibility: Only accessible by a flight of stairs
Quaker Centre Bookshop, London
Quaker’s vocation is to build a society where individual friends are brought together in the embrace of Spirit. Quaker faith is built on experience and Quakers would generally hold that it is spiritual experience which is central to Quaker worship. They stock books on activism, sustainability and social justice.
Opening Times: Monday to Friday (8am to 7pm) and occasional Saturdays
Address: Friends House, 173 Euston Road, London, NW1 2BJ
Accessibility: Step free access into the building and lifts to all floors.
Don’t see a book shop near to where you live? Check out more shops via The Alliance of Radical Booksellers. Ethical Consumer have also helpfully compiled a list of larger booksellers ranked by how ethical they are, and their environmental impact. Check it out the list here. Forbes also recently published an article on how to open your own independent bookstore!
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