Your bookshops #34, Malvern Book Cooperative

My friend from the world of board games, Kevin recently shared some holiday photos of a trip to Malvern. When I realised the visit included a bookshop, I had no hesitation about asking him to share his experience...

The Malvern Book Cooperative 
2 St Anne's Road, Malvern, Worcestershire, WR14 4RG
Tel: 01684 564788

As a lover of books and independent book stores I thought as I was visiting Malvern I would ask around and see if there was one, or maybe more, I could check out. As luck would have it there was one and what a delightful experience it was.

The Malvern Book Cooperative has a fairly central location, not directly on one of the main streets of shops, but rather a few doors up a street with the delightful name, Happy Valley. The window had a display of books on wellbeing and I later found out that the display changes every couple of weeks and that for these weeks the titles are discounted.

On entering you immediately have the sense of a light spacious airy establishment. The books in the main room are organised around the around the outside wall with two, or maybe it was three tables used to highlight new releases and new books that the bookshop team feel will be of interest to their clientele.

In the world of Covid-19 there are signs asking people to wear masks and a hand sanitiser by the door. I was there on a stormy but otherwise quiet Wednesday afternoon and in the 30 to 45 mins I was in there may have been one other customer. Perhaps not surprising given it was the 19th May 2021 so there were various restrictions in place still and many people may be unsettled by talk of what’s now known as the Delta variant.

I talked at some length to the lady behind the counter, who was one of the cooperative owners so, a mine of interesting information and anecdotes. Formed around nine years ago, the cooperative was a community response to the demise the town’s bookshop and over the years it has gone from strength to strength and moved from a volunteer-run shop to now paying staff. They now have a strong place in the community, regularly running events, and are founders of The Outreach Project, a charitable initiative whose mission is to “enable, enrich and empower those who are isolated, marginalised or vulnerable, across the generations, through the power of literacy”. During the conversation I was told about the work they are doing with mothers and young children, young people struggling with education, and with the isolated and lonely elderly members of the community with volunteer readers.

Coming back to the shop, they describe themselves as aiming to cover all the bases, but as a small bookshop if you are looking for something specific it would be worth phoning first. They do have a well-stocked children’s section, plus one for local authors and an identity section covering diversity in its many forms. They found that the Black Lives Matter movement last year (2020) saw titles like Why I am no Longer Talking to White People about Race, and Black and British being strong sellers, among others as many of their white clientele sought to educate themselves on the topic of race and discrimination in modern Britain. 

As we talked I was offered suggestions and ideas and this resulted in the purchase of three titles for myself and two children’s books as gifts for young friends. During the conversation, the lady recommended Markus Zusak’s latest novel, but as we talked and it became clear I’d not read The Book Thief, her feeling was that it would be a better book for me – an insight I will enjoy for many days to come. All in all a most enjoyable visit and a store I would recommend to all that love books.

The pandemic means it's more than a year since I've been able to visit a bookshop in person (I have been supporting them online instead), so I'm particularly grateful to Kevin for sharing this experience and bringing to life the joy of real-life bookshopping.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for your comment. I've unfortunately recently been targeted by spammers, so I've had to put a limited amount of moderation on comments for the time being. If you're a human, your comment will be uploaded soon.

Best wishes,