Edinburgh's Word Power Books seeks new owner

Edinburgh's Word Power Books seeks new owner

Edinburgh-based radical bookshop Word Power is looking for a new owner after founder Elaine Henry's decision to step away from the business.

Due to “personal reasons rather than the market” Henry said she plans to leave the shop after more than 22 years and move to France.

She told The Bookseller her decision has come at a "very good" period in independent bookselling, with increased political engagement leading to increased demand in radical and political literature.

“[My decision to leave is] slightly contradictory in the way that things are very good at the moment and there’s a lot more interest from customers with the general public becoming more informed," Henry said. "The build-up to the [Scottish] independence referendum last year caused a massive increase [in interest from customers], and that’s really been sustained and with all the stuff with Brexit. The view in Scotland is obviously different to a lot of parts down south [in England] on the whole so, issues around self-determination and people getting informed and feeling more in control of their lives are becoming big issues up here. Books fit quite nicely into that so, it’s a great time here but it’s partly due to personal circumstances [that I'm deciding to leave]."

She added that the shop is in good health and believes that is indicative of the state of independent bookshops in Scotland: "It’s in a healthy, positive state - it’s not a 'get out, it’s sinking!' kind of thing. I think other indie bookshops in Scotland would probably reflect that too. They’ve seen an increase in people wanting to read around issues."

She continued: “I have given over 22 years to the shop, pretty much 24/7 and I’ve got the chance to do something different now and thought it was a good time. I feel sad to be giving it up and would really like it if it could continue in some form as an indie bookshop. We shall see if that happens."

The shop also publishes a mixture of poetry, politics and fiction including works by Tom Leonard and Marie Armstrong, and Henry runs the Edinburgh Independent and Radical Book Fair. She has also set up an imprint called Word Power Women which publishes short stories and anthologies by women.

“There’s a lot of exciting things that could be kept going”, Henry said. “I’d like to think that something could be continued here; that’s really important to me. I'm open to suggestions."

Henry told The Bookseller that due to her move abroad she is looking for a "quick sale". Anyone interested should contact Henry on 07950 096114. She is looking for a goodwill payment plus rent of £20,000 per annum. The shop floor is around 750 square feet with a basement office and "lots of storage space", Henry said.

The shop was officially opened by Man Booker prize-winner James Kelman in 1994.