Afro-Caribbean bookshop New Beacon Books has decided to remain open due to the “fantastic response” from the public following the announcement of its impending closure.
In December, The Bookseller reported that New Beacon Books was set to close after 50 years. But before closing its doors "officially", the owners decided to make a "concerted effort to raise awareness and let people know that the shop existed".
Vanessa La Rose, wife of the eldest grandson of the shop's co-founder John La Rose, is part of the team fighting to keep the shop open.
She told The Bookseller: "We realised that although the bookshop had been around for the last 50 years, there was no real effort to keep up with the times – no website, no advertising etc. We wanted to give members of the public an opportunity to acknowledge our history and potentially visit the shop.
“Whilst a number of independents have closed [due to] rising business rates [and] online competition, a few still remain. They have managed to diversify and roll with the times. Something New Beacon wasn’t doing."
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 publishes books specialising in black British, Caribbean, African and Asian literature.
Following the creation of a Facebook and Instagram page at the end of January, the shop “immediately saw a huge uptake of supporters”. The shop's crowdfunding campaign went live on 3rd March and met its £10,000 target yesterday (23rd March).
La Rose said: “The response from social media and beyond has reaffirmed to us that there is a place for New Beacon Books in the community. Whilst there are people that shop online there are still people that like to browse in a bookshop.”
La Rose added that the shop has a "very important" part to play in showcasing black history in the current political and cultural climate.
"We are more than a small diversity section in a mainstream bookshop and we also provide opportunities as a publisher too", La Rose said. "We are here to educate all people about the diversity of black culture and beyond. We want to be able to create a space where members of the community can speak, young people especially can express themselves and learn.”
The money raised from the Go Fund Me campaign will be used to aid website creation, make vital shop repairs and start renovations to bring the shop - which "hasn’t been touched since the 80s", according to La Rose - up to standard.
Going forward, the shop, which is currently operating under reduced opening hours, intends to put on book signings and book reading for children, have a community space available for hire, diversify the stock it houses and put on more events in the community.