“What I say is, a town isn’t a town without a bookstore. It may call itself a town, but unless it’s got a bookstore, it knows it’s not foolin’ a soul.” Neil Gaiman
And we are fortunate enough to have two! While Books on the Hill lies in the heart of Hill Road, the Clevedon Community Bookshop Cooperative is a hidden jewel on the very lovely Copse Road. Clevedon people know it well and frequent it often, but visitors to the town often stumble upon it accidentally. And what a treat lies in store for them.
This community enterprise opened its doors on 31st December 2011, and its current demographic of over 650 members is surprisingly, made up of people from all over the world. Shares cost £1, and you have to buy a minimum of ten which makes you a member of the bookshop cooperative and gives you an equal vote regardless of the size of your shares. The shares don’t bring you any financial rewards, the benefits are only social, and of course, they provide that much needed working capital.
The bookshop occupies two buildings, and the 20,000 + very reasonably priced, quality books in excellent condition are housed in four ground floor rooms. They have a massive selection of fiction and non-fiction for both children and adults. One of the buildings was the former site of Clevedon Books founded in 1970 by George and Wendy Douthwaite. The bookshop is run by a team of amiable, dedicated, knowledgeable members, supported by volunteers, who are happy to let you browse but equally happy to engage with you if you need any advice or support. They may even make you a hot drink!
There is a delightful children’s corner with comfy bean bags which is very conducive to relaxed reading as well as a little area specifically for children to do research or even homework. The selection of books for children of all ages including young adults is impressive. You’ll find classic children’s literature alongside some very popular contemporary works.
The bookshop also has an online shop which you can browse by downloading Readerware to your iPad, iPhone, Android tablet or Android smartphone. They have catalogued 14,000 books and are adding to this all the time.
They also offer a book-finding service, book repair and a binding service which has proved extremely useful over the years.
Since 2016, the bookshop has run its own Community Press, not many towns of our size can boast this, their aim is
“……………..to enhance the literary and literacy profile of Clevedon and its environs.”
In April 2016, they published “Writing on the Lake” which is an anthology of poetry and prose inspired by the Marine Lake in collaboration with the Marine Lake Enthusiasts Society in Clevedon. Their second publication “Clevedon Cuttings: history, houses and a couple of characters” by Jane Lilly was published in 2017. Its third publication, ‘Celebrating Portishead Open Air Pool’, will be launched in November in collaboration with Portishead Pool Community Trust.
The Bookshop boasts a range of courses, workshops and events which draw in old customers as well as new. On Thursday 4th October between 7.00pm and 9.00pm, there is a course on flash fiction, and that’s where I’ll be! It’s for those who are new to this style of writing, like myself, as well as those with some experience. As I understand it, flash fiction which is sometimes called micro-fiction, nanofiction, short-short stories, sudden fiction is a story with a word count of between 100 and 1000 words. I think it must be quite a challenge because you still need to cover all the essential elements of a good story but in so few words. Anyway, I’m going to give it a go; the cost is £15 full cost £10 concessionary.
Keep your eyes on the Clevedon Community Bookshop website because there is lots going on and it’s very easy to miss out.
You may like to consider becoming a member of the Clevedon Community Bookshop Cooperative which is run by the following teams: booksellers, window dressers, marketing and publicity, book scanners, book cataloguers, internet sellers, Unit 15 logistics, bookbinders, courses and events, publishing press, maintenance and DIY. They are always grateful for help no matter how little.
There is a team for everyone, and if you can spare the time, no matter how little, then they would love to see you. I’m off; armed with my request for shares, my application for the flash writing course, not sure about which volunteering team to join! I need to think about that one!
Find out more about the Clevedon Community Bookshop Cooperative here: