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Archive for the ‘Bookshops’ Category

HereSign

It’s the cherry on top of one of Bristol’s most spirited spots – where jolly, jeering street drinkers rock beneath crumbling walls sporting Banksy originals; afternoon gig-goers spill out onto pavements from cafes-cum-gig venues to puff on their rollies; the spitting hiss of vats and vats of boiling oil sizzles from rows of red-topped takeaways to mingle with wheeze of rattling spray paint cans over the engine growls and scooter-horn squeals of the humming Gloucester Road. Ahh… Stokes Croft – the Here Gallery and Bookshop.

HereFrontage
Since its doors were opened by siblings Ben and Kate O’Leary in 2003, not-for-profit creative cooperative Here has been bringing art books, small-press publications, comics and a whole host of crafty cuts to the folks of Bristol and beyond. And that’s not all; the shop sits above Here’s gallery space, which is currently exhibiting The Joyful Bewilderment from The Outcrowd Collective.
 Outcrowd Collective poster
HereDrawers
HereSwoon
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Here Bookshelf

You are Here: Ben

You are Here: Ben

HereArtBooks
HereBurgerman
And 2008 saw the Here family branching out there and everywhere – well Falmouth, to be precise. “As well as providing a welcoming atmosphere, and a meeting place for like minded individuals, Here and Now [showcases] new artwork from local students and established artists,” says Kate O’Leary, who’s at the helm in Falmouth while Ben steers the good ship Here back in Bristol. Wish you were here? Check out the Flickr feed for a guided tour.

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Bloom&CurllFrontage

Richard of The Mighty Miniature fame was last week kind enough to point me in the direction of his friend Jason. Jason runs Bloom & Curll.

And look at it. Just look at it.

Bloom&CurllOpen
WindowPoem
 Want to go in? Me too.

Typewriter
Jason's desk
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Bloom&CurllPelican

WindowTable

And Bloom & Curll is more than just new and second-hand books, plates of cake and Jason: “If you want to display fine art, discuss politics, poetry, Kafka,” says the Bloom & Curll flyer, “or have a cup of tea, play chess and plan the next revolution, we are available as a free space for discussion groups, clubs, workshops, rehearsals or a place to simply sit, read and think.” Add to that the writers in residencecosy gigs (and readings) and a beautiful upcoming zine chronicling new writing and bookish happenings around and about the South West, and you have heaven in an ironmonger’s (at 74 Colston Street, Bristol.)

Bloom&CurllBuilding

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MMFrontage
Found: brilliant little book stall pushing brilliant little books, from processions of spotless old Penguins to stacks of sparkling modern hardbacks. Saturdays on Bristol’s Wine Street and Sundays at the Tobacco Factory Market.

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MMShakespeare&Co

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MMLiteraryCanons
Lost: £4.50 on this perfect 1962 Pelican first-edition of William Morris’s writing and designs. Oh, and a stinker of a hangover. Mighty indeed.

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Footnotes: The Mighty Miniature is captained by Richard. Richard likes sperm whales and stamping inky images of birds onto brown paper bags to give away with his books.

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Reading sleeper seats

Every morning on my way to work I walk within two feet of a jolly young chap, dreadlocked of hair and patchworked of pant, handing out free stuff. Now, I’m usually all up for free stuff, and not one to pass up chitchat with a person sporting multicoloured trousers with such aplomb, but each day I edge past him shaking my head, giving him my chirpiest ‘no, thanks!’ and – usually when it’s raining – an apologetic shrug of the shoulders.

And why? Because this man’s stuff is the kind of ‘free’ that gives you that just-scoffed-the-sweet-I-found-in-the-gutter feeling. It doesn’t matter that nobody saw you indulge. It doesn’t even really matter that it’s soggy and bears the boot-print of the person who was walking in front of you. It’s the Metro, and I know from experience that it’s the kind of bad taste that stays with me all day.

Choose What You Read logo

If I lived in London I wouldn’t have this problem. That’s because on my way to/from work (well, when the Underground staff weren’t on strike…) I’d be gleefully taking a book off the hands of the Choose What You Read folks, an army of library-loving foot-people who dish out second-hand books at major stations to make the commute that little bit more bearable. You read them, deliver them back, and then those brilliant people at CWYR distribute them all over again. It’s non-profit and, as my trusty CWYR correspondent TJ tells me, is “primarily a reaction against the generic celebrity spun press that are circulated, and a movement towards good olde book readin’.” And I like that. The next hand-out takes place during the PM rush hour of Monday 6th July.

If I’m lucky, I’ll be there. If not, I will be in Bath and it will be raining. And I might just pick up a copy of the Metro after all…

Product designer Shiu Yuk Yuen's eco brolly

Product designer Shiu Yuk Yuen's eco brolly

Eco Brolly designed by Shiu Yuk Yuen.

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Mr Bs Frontage

Bath’s Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights – this week’s jackpot – sets The Bind’s detector beeping not only on account of its fantastic moniker; its 2008 Independent Bookshop of the Year accolade; its ‘bibliotherapy’ room, replete with battered, comfy armchairs and help-yourself coffee; the Tintin cartoon strip wallpaper sidling up to the staircase… 

Mr Bs Chairs

Mr Bs Bibliotherapy

Mr Bs Bath

Mr Bs Stairs

Mr Bs Window Display

… and its loyalty cards; the brilliant author events and book groups; the chatty Mr B’s folks, who’ll order any book you like to land on Mr B’s doormat in just a couple of days; their lists (and I do love a good list)…

Mr Bs Lists

Mr Bs Mugs

… and their sock monkeys…

Mr Bs Monkey

… oh no. The true feather in Mr B’s cap is Vlashka, who, when not providing her unique brand of tail-waggingly attentive customer service in the shop (as, unfortunately, she wasn’t on the day of The Bind’s visit) is updating her Vanity Page or trying to fit in meet-and-greets with her celebrity fans between dog biscuits. Watch this space for future Vlashka book signing announcements.

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toppingfrontage1
Conservative types may claim that nothing particularly noteworthy has sprung up in Bath in the past 50 years. I beg to differ (see exhibit 1, above.)

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signedfaulkes
Topping & Company is the best thing to happen to the old roman city since hot water. The first time I set foot on one of its creaking floorboards and was hit by the avalanche of coffee wafts, Yann Tiersen tunes and row after row after row of cellophane-wrapped signed first editions, I could barely contain myself.

I still can’t stay in there for more than 20 minutes without breaking into a sweat.

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So, I certainly don’t need any coffee when I’m in there, but the lovely Topping & Co folks offer great pots of the stuff – in polka-dot cups cups, no less – as well as reading groups (fuelled by a healthy amount of red wine), author talks and good chat, as provided by Saber and Mark who very kindly let me get under their feet to take some photos. For not a second longer than 20 minutes, mind.

Saber, Mark and a pot of Topping's finest

Saber, Mark and a pot of Topping's finest

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