Indie booksellers looking to develop their business will be able to access free mentoring, thanks to an initiative by the Unwin Charitable Trust. Former Dulwich Books owner Sheila O’Reilly will provide advice and expertise to indie retailers for the Booksellers Mentoring Programme, funded by Unwin and supported by the Booksellers Association.
O’Reilly sold London-based Dulwich Books to The Marsh Agency owner Susie Nicklin in 2015 after 13 years of running the business. She now works part-time at Village Books in Dulwich as its events manager, a role she will keep alongside her mentoring role. She said: “Independent bookshops are a key part of our high streets and contribute enormously to our cultural landscape. Over the past 10 years they have been ingenious in dealing with issues outside their control. To be able to talk through and develop ideas with great bookshop owners will be exciting, and I am looking forward to helping in any way I can.”
Margaret Wilson, administrator of the Mentoring Programme, added: “We knew that the person we chose as a mentor would not only need vast experience in bookselling and in-depth knowledge of the book trade, but would also need to be discreet, empathetic and supportive. We believe that Sheila possesses all these attributes.”
Participating indies will be able to talk about their business plans and seek advice on the development of their shop. The trust will fund O’Reilly’s visit to the shop and a follow-up report for the retailer.
The Unwin Charitable Trust was established in 1975 by publisher Rayner Unwin CBE and was founded on a bequest from his father, Sir Stanley Unwin. An application form is available from the Booksellers Association or the Unwin Charitable Trust.