New Beacon Books to close after 50 years

New Beacon Books to close after 50 years

Afro-Caribbean bookshop New Beacon Books is to close on the eve of its 50th anniversary due to pressures from e-retailers such as Amazon, its owner has said.

Founded in 1966 by the late poet and publisher John La Rose and his partner Sarah White, New Beacon Books in London's Stroud Green specialises in works from Caribbean, Black British, African and African American authors. The bookshop also used to previously publish books specialising in black British, Caribbean, African and Asian literature. 

Speaking on the decision to close the shop, White told The Bookseller that the current physical bookselling market and the growth of online retailers such as Amazon have made surviving difficult for independent booksellers. White said that the shop used to receive specialist orders from libraries and institutes but that cuts to funding have meant that this is “no longer the case”.

Although the retail operation is closing, White insisted the move represents a new chapter for New Beacon Books (NBB), and the company still intended to run events. The George Padmore Institute (GPI), an Afro-Caribbean archive chronicling the literary, cultural and political history of black Britain, was founded above the shop in 1991 and will continue to operate.

Earlier this year, discussing the shop's 50th anniversary, White said: “While New Beacon’s achievements deserve to be recognised and celebrated, both the GPI and NBB are very well aware that the world of books and publishing have changed enormously since 1966 and it is unrealistic to continue operating in the same old way.

“In 2017 New Beacon will be undertaking a reorganisation so its traditions and vision can continue into the future though not necessarily within the same structures.”