Friday, 2 September 2011

Happy Birthday, The Bookcase

The Bookcase in Lowdham is 15 tomorrow. The shop is a village bookshop, about eight miles from Nottingham, the village having about 2,000 residents. It was a brave move to start a shop there but the owner, Jane Streeter, had worked in legal bookselling in London before moving back to Nottinghamshire where she had three children. She kept up her subscription to The Bookseller, with the long term aim of setting up her own shop. The rumour is that her accountant husband, Andy Streeter, worked out it would be financially better to open a shop than to have another child and a shop was duly opened. The first shop was very small. If too many customers came in, others would have to leave. But it thrived. A couple of years later - at our first meeting - we decided to start a book festival in the village. Book festivals were not as trendy or as numerous as they are now. We wanted to have a festival that combined the notion of a high quality book festival with the life and rhythms of the village - using venues like the Primitive Methodist Chapel and the WI. It worked, and continues, with some events attracting up to 450 people.

Meantime the shop moved to bigger premises, developed a school supply side and uses every opportunity to sell books. It is, and will always be, a shop orientated to the needs of the village, selling gifts, and tickets for any local shows. but it is a village that has retained its pubs, its post office, a butcher and a co-op, a very busy village hall and a great cultural life. Jane Streeter has engaged with the wider literature community, launching books by local writers, developing a dedicated local books website (, running bookstalls and the shop now provides jobs for several other booksellers. Always active in the booktrade, Jane became one of only two or three women to become President of the Booksellers Association, and the first person from a village bookshop to have held the post. She is one year in with another to go, and she is involved nationally (and internationally) in every aspect of bookselling. The slogan "think global, act local" has been turned on its head to be "think local, act global". Congrats to the whole Bookcase team.

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