Battle of the Bookshops: News from Nowhere in Liverpool
9th Jul 2010
Wander near Liverpool’s Bold Street and you will see an array of independent shops and cafes, and it was amongst these that I happened upon News From Nowhere.
Now, I’m a sucker for bookshops of all shapes and sizes, but this place is something a bit special. Since opening its doors in 1974, it has moved premises and continued to grow, but the ethos has always remained the same: “to provide access to books and information on the reality of the world and how to change it and ourselves for the better.”
From the lovely signage outside, the notice boards and stacks of free leaflets in the doorway, to the kettle and mugs on the side (help yourself to a brew, suggested donation of 30p), this is a very welcoming shop.
A colleague at work who spied me looking at the website said, “sounds like somewhere for vegan anarchists to hang out. Not my thing.”
Now, this comes from someone who actively avoids bookshops of any kind, but it’s not an uncommon misconception when it comes to cooperatives and the like.
Yes, it’s a treasure trove of political actions and social histories (more on that shortly), and if you are a vegan anarchist you’ll be certain to find something of interest, but it’s a great place for everyone from the casual browser to the eagle-eyed bookworm.
The books span general fiction, children’s, philosophy, academic student guides, travel, crafts, film and TV… and let’s not get started on how excited I was by some of the theatre books!
The shelves are organised, but not too organised, so you can find something specific or just have a good root around. And if you don’t find what you’re looking for, they have a reservation service to accompany the online store with access to over 1.5 million titles.
Since 1981, News From Nowhere has operated as a women’s collective, giving women the chance to build up skills in business management, bookselling and retail.
They stock numerous publications and pamphlets on socially and environmentally conscious campaigns, and actively support community groups and events.
Action, change, possibility and empowerment within the walls of a bookshop. Okay, okay, I’m letting my inner activist get a bit dewy-eyed here, and am perhaps romanticising the idea that knowledge is power… but this shop recognises the power of books and of people, and has stood strong during 30 years plus of social and economic change.
These days, with multinationals and chain bookshops dominating the high streets, it can be hard for independents to survive. But News From Nowhere is still here, backed by a community eager to “support & retain what it sees as a vital resource and focal point for campaigns for change”; it should be celebrated for that.
Taking its name from the utopian classic by William Morris, the bookshop embodies a hope and determination in the face of adversity.
So whether you’re after political zines, peace movement publications, civil partnership cards or just a bloody good book to read on holiday, News From Nowhere is definitely worth a gander. Now, bring on payday so I can get back there!
Do you want the world to know more about your beloved local independent bookshop? Check out what we want to know for The Battle of the Bookshops, and get in touch!