A new independent children’s bookshop is set to open in Bedford tomorrow (24th October) after the community pledged to support its launch with £1,000 of bookshop vouchers.
The residents of Bedford wanted a bookshop in the town so much that when a property came up, they joined forces to persuade local book fanatic Rachael Rogan, who already ran book clubs and a book festival in the area, to open one.
When Rogan pointed out the risk of founding an independent bookshop in the climate of strong competition from internet rivals and e-books, the community countered her concerns by pledging to buy vouchers to spend on books when the shop opened.
As a result, before Rogan’s Books even opens its doors for the first time on Saturday, the towns people have already bought over £1,000 worth of vouchers to spend in the store.
Rogan [pictured] told The Bookseller: “I started doing reading groups and book clubs for kids a couple of years ago because my daughter and I are both avid readers and I found there was nothing in the town like that. Then parents began saying to me ‘wouldn’t it be lovely to hold a book festival’ and the festival grew from there.
“Everybody wants to own a bookshop, it is one of those things everybody would like to do, but the reality is very different. So when a property came up in Bedford I kind of got press-ganged into opening a bookshop by the local community. I was apprehensive at first, I told them ‘you might want a bookshop but I’d be the one taking all the risk’, so they committed to buying vouchers for the shop which they could use to buy books to get it off the ground. So far parents have bought £1,000 in vouchers already.
“The community have really rallied around, with people popping in all the time and asking if they can help, with mums and dads doing carpentry work and putting up shelves, it has been a real community effort. Bedford is like that, it’s a town but it has the spirit of a village.”
Children’s laureate Chris Riddell is set to open the new 1,000 sq ft shop tomorrow and other children’s authors including Steve Cole, author of the Young Bond series, will also make an appearance.
Rogan plans to subsidise book sales by running classes and events in a room at the back of the shop and she has already got toddler and children’s yoga and pilates classes signed up. “We are also teaming up with the Beanstalk charity and they are going to use our venue to coach reluctant readers,” she said.
The festival founder only got keys to the property two weeks ago, but she is confident with the help of the community it will be open in time for Saturday.
“We are currently sanding down walls and putting up shelving and we will be open on Saturday morning,” she said.