Geraldine Cox at Kirkdale Bookshop

Geraldine Cox, owner-manager of Kirkdale Bookshop in Sydenham, London

As part of their series exploring what contributes to the enduring success of established booksellers, Kate Gunning, Acting Membership Manager for the BA, talks to Geraldine Cox, owner-manager of Kirkdale Bookshop in Sydenham, London. [This interview previously appeared in the December 2022 issue of the BA’s Bookselling Essentials magazine.]

How did you get into bookselling?

I worked in the local library in the holidays and helped run the school library, so when I was applying for university after my A levels, my father asked if I would rather start a bookshop with him; I decided to give it a go. In September 1966 we started cleaning an old motorcycle shop in Sydenham, southeast London. We opened officially on 13th October 1966. The shop started off quite small and gradually extended over the years. There isn’t an inch of space left!

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Matter of Bookshops 2022

Conference Programme

Wednesday, September 7th
11.30 Registration & Lunch

12:30 Introductions and Welcome from Meryl Halls (Booksellers Association)

13.00 Panel 1 Bookshop Histories
 Kristen Highland: The Monumental Bookstore
 Maria Vassilopolous: The light and dark of the book trade — Christina Foyle and her bookselling years
 Andrew Nash: Bookshops and Publishers’ Travellers in the mid-1930s

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“Developing Collaterals: Book Retail Networks in the Creation of Social Prosperity”

This was the second themed Bookselling Research Network event. This round table discussed the financial business dimension of a bookstore in tandem with its social dimension as the site for networked communities.

The table comprised of three 15-minute presentations and was followed with a lively question and answer session.

Our panellists:

Dr Simon Frost. Bournemouth University. https://staffprofiles.bournemouth.ac.uk/display/sfrost See Reading, Wanting and Broken EconomicsA Twenty-First-Century Study of Readers and Bookshops in Southampton Around 1900.  N.Y.:  SUNY Press, 2021.

Dr Frost talked about the complexity of book retail, drawing on his research from the 1900s to contemporary times. He argued that in the 1900s books became a commodity culture and this continues today. There may be radical differences in operational mode between 1900 and now but the situation remains the same: the promise of a gain means we accept books are retailed to us.

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“Developing Collaterals: Book Retail Networks in the Creation of Social Prosperity”

Wednesday 25th May 2:00 – 3:30 pm BST

The Bookselling Research Network is pleased to announce its next event. This round table will discuss the financial business dimension of a bookstore in tandem with its social dimension as the site for networked communities. While the bookstore’s assets may generate revenue, they have other outputs from other ‘collaterals’, such as their communities of readers and end users, with the possibility that both might contribute to a much wider shared prosperity. In short, the panel participants will ask from their varied standpoints, whether there are good reasons to think of the otherwise separate domains of cultural politics and economics together as a networked political economy? 

The table comprises 3 x 10-15 minute presentations, with general discussion and questions to follow.

Our panellists are

Dr Simon Frost. Bournemouth University. https://staffprofiles.bournemouth.ac.uk/display/sfrost See Reading, Wanting and Broken EconomicsA Twenty-First-Century Study of Readers and Bookshops in Southampton Around 1900.  N.Y.:  SUNY Press, 2021.

Prof. Corinna Norrick-Rühl. University of Münster: https://www.uni-muenster.de/Anglistik/bookstudies/team/prof.dr.norrick-ruehl.html See The Novel as Network: Forms, Ideas, Commodities. Cham: Palgrave, 2020 (co-edited with Tim Lanzendörfer); see also Bookshelves in the Age of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Cham: Palgrave, forthcoming (co-edited with Shafquat Towheed).

Dr Ryan Raffaelli. Harvard Business School: https://www.hbs.edu/faculty/Pages/profile.aspx?facId=257292 See Reinventing Retail: The Novel Resurgence of Independent Bookstores, HBS working papers series, 2020.

After the panel talks, the second part of the event will be an open discussion on these themes and an opportunity to identify areas for further research and collaboration.

This event will take place on Zoom and there is no charge for attendance. Please register here: https://forms.office.com/r/KX1R52Kthj

BRN event: History of Bookselling – 18th March 2022

In this first themed event, the BRN explored the history of bookselling, beginning with two fifteen minute presentations. The first was from Dr Will Smith who is a practising bookseller at Sam Read Booksellers in the Lake District, followed by Professor Simon Eliot who is a book historian at the Institute for English Studies. Short extracts of these presentations are below.

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‘Booksellers as Placemakers’: new report now live

A new study, Booksellers As Placemakers, commissioned by the Booksellers Association, shows that over 90% of booksellers work actively to support local priorities, such as place marketing, walkability, provision of recreational and cultural spaces, and maintaining economic attractive town and city centres.

The new report, Booksellers As Placemakers, was authored by the Institute of Place Management at Manchester Metropolitan University and analysed feedback from 205 bookshops based across the UK.

Key findings from the research showed that 92% of bookshops contributed to the local non-retail offer such as events and festivals, 99% to the economic attractiveness of their town centres, 98% to ‘place-marketing’ of their towns, and 96% to the ‘liveability’ of their towns, while 77% were proactively involved in networks and partnerships with local councils, and 70% helped to remove barriers to entry for new businesses in the area.

You can read the full press release on the Booksellers Association website here

BA Report on booksellers as placemakers published

A new study, Booksellers As Placemakers, commissioned by the Booksellers Association, shows that over 90% of booksellers work actively to support local priorities, such as place marketing, walkability, provision of recreational and cultural spaces, and maintaining economic attractive town and city centres.

The new report, Booksellers As Placemakers, was authored by the Institute of Place Management at Manchester Metropolitan University and analysed feedback from 205 bookshops based across the UK.

Key findings from the research showed that 92% of bookshops contributed to the local non-retail offer such as events and festivals, 99% to the economic attractiveness of their town centres, 98% to ‘place-marketing’ of their towns, and 96% to the ‘liveability’ of their towns, while 77% were proactively involved in networks and partnerships with local councils, and 70% helped to remove barriers to entry for new businesses in the area.

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First Annual Bookselling Research Network Meeting – 21st January 2022

In January, we were delighted to host the first annual meeting of the Bookselling Research Network (BRN), bringing together those from industry, associations and academia that share a common interest in the history, practice, and culture of bookselling. Despite the challenges of the last two years, the BRN has been quietly building momentum, and it was wonderful to bring together interested parties from across the globe -– including Colombia, the USA, Europe and Japan -– to discuss the aims of the BRN.

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