News and update on March 5th 2015 – a message to our supporters

Dear Northcote Books supporter

We are still working to provide a wonderful bookshop, café and hub in Northcote Road, to add to the Library: Northcote Book Place. I imagine that the Gutenberg printing press got going more quickly than this, but let us update you on where we are.

The big bombshell last summer was that Wandsworth Council is now looking at the possibility of building a NEW library and community hall in Northcote Road, opposite the current building! I know. However if that does happen, we have been invited by the council to re-locate from the old library to the new library.

Meanwhile in the main part of the forest, we have recently been given a new draft lease by our landlords GLL, who run Wandsworth’s libraries, and we are in discussion over the finer points. We are working with GLL’s facilities department on the plans for the building improvements. Our business plan and share offer document are being reviewed for compliance with “best practice” for social enterprises. In all of this we have been supported by professionals who have donated their time pro bono and for this we are very grateful. In fact we are buoyed up by all the enthusiasm we still meet from all quarters.

However it is important to say that we are still working out the best timing and best way to proceed, given the new uncertainties. Only when we have clarity will we launch the community share offer, based on a realistic future.

Next week we will need your help. We have applied for a grant from the Community Investment Levy, and the council will be consulting the public to see what they think and whether our neighbourhood wants Northcote Book Place to benefit. We hope you do! We will send you details as soon as we have them.

World Book Day
Today is World Book Day, a celebration of authors, illustrators, books and – most importantly- a celebration of reading. The main aim is to encourage children to explore the pleasures of books and reading. All sorts of things will be going on, including:

  • sending out 14 MILLION National tokens to children and young people all over the country to choose a free book from their local bookshop (yes that will be us, folks, one day soon).
  • Frank Lampard hosting a free event to be streamed into school and libraries
  • asking the public to sign a petition calling on party leaders to commit to the “Read On. Get On” goal of getting all children reading well at age 11 by 2025.

Perfect timing. To sign the petition, or find out how your child can benefit, see www.worldbookday.com

Library cuts

Recent weeks have seen cuts announced to library budgets in Lambeth, Gateshead, Hertfordshire, Birmingham and Staffs, to name only a few. But in Northcote Road we want to transform our library and give it a new lease of life. Another terrific raison d’etre for this project. The Northcote Book Place will mean that Northcote Library, Northcote Books and a café will join forces to make a lovely destination. We will be helping to make sure that the library flourishes.

Dream jobs?

A YouGov poll has found that the great British public consider that the three most desirable jobs to have in Britain today are author, librarian and academic. 60 % of the over 14,000 respondents considered being an author most desirable. Our creative writing workshops should do well. All this despite authors’ average earnings in 2013 being below £ 11,000!

The death of books?

The demise of books has been much exaggerated. Although some bookshops are closing, others are opening and diversifying, as we will, into all sorts of events and extras. The rate of decline of book sales has slowed, and they are no longer being displaced by e-books. The really good news is that in 2014, sales of children’s books rose 9.1% to £336m, with picture books up by 8.7%, and children’s and young adult non-fiction increasing in value by 35.8% to £44.5m. As an Economist essay noted, “ What is the future of the book? It is much brighter than people think”.

Daunt Book Festival

There are some very interesting events lined up for the Daunt Books Festival on 19th and 20th March 2015. Daunt Books stresses that “A bookshop is not just a place to buy books, it’s a space to bring readers together, to foster a literary community, and to have a great deal of fun in the doing.” Yay! See more at http://www.dauntbooks.co.uk/daunt_book_festival.asp

Word Fair 2015

And to see what can be done by a well established arts movement backed up by a local bookshop, – Kirkdale Books in Sydenham which has just celebrated its 48th birthday! – check out Sydenham Arts’ Word Fair 2015 programme. It kicks off tonight and runs until 15th March. See http://www.sydenhamarts.co.uk/whats-on/

Finally….thanks to you all For being there, offering help, and keeping the candle burning for Northcote Books.

Best wishes Viv Taylor Gee and the Board