People's Bookshop


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John McDonnell MP

The Alliance of Radical Booksellers Launches

Tomorrow I will be joining fellow radical booksellers in Liverpool to discuss ways of supporting and promoting radical bookselling in the UK. Nik Gorecki of Housemans Bookshop in King's Cross has been one of the main movers in getting this off the ground. Below he explains the reasoning behind the launch of the Alliance of Radical Booksellers [reproduced courtesy of]

Alliance of Radical Booksellers

In response to the recent economic troubles facing bookshops of all sizes across Britain, a group of radical booksellers has joined together to create the Alliance of Radical Booksellers, a supportive community for Britain’s remaining radical bookshops.

Intending to pick up where the former Federation of Radical Booksellers left off in its mission to offer practical assistance and support to radical bookshop owners, the Alliance hopes to increase awareness of the unique offerings of local radical bookshops, as well as provide a support network for the radical bookshop community.

The Alliance will includes bookshops throughout Britain, including:

* London-based booksellers 56a Infoshop, Active Distribution, Andrew Burgin, Book Bloc, Bookmarks, Freedom, Gays the Word, Housmans Bookshop, Letterbox Library, Newham Bookshop, and Soma Books
* Brighton’s Africa Book Centre and the Cowley Club
* Kendal-based bookshop Left on the Shelf
* Liverpool’s News from Nowhere Bookshop
* The People’s Bookshop in Durham City
* Leeds-based Radish Books
* October Books in Southampton
* Edinburgh’s Word Power Books
* …and Bristol’s soon-to-open Hydra

Nik Gorecki, co-manager at Housmans Bookshop, explains the motivation behind the formation of the Alliance:

“Independent bookshops have been on the back foot for many years now. Headline after headline tell of booksellers shutting up shop. Radical bookshops used to thrive in Britain, with most towns having at least one dissenting bookshop to call their own. We felt it was time to take a stand and turn the tide.”

“A key issue is awareness – many people just don’t realise that we’re out there – so making ourselves more visible is a key objective. But beyond that it’s also important for us to share expertise and provide support for one another. We don’t see each other as competition, but as complimentary parts of a wider whole. The politics of our shops binds us together.”

“There are three members of the ARB who have either just opened, or are getting ready to open in the near future: Book Bloc in London’s New Cross, The People’s Bookshop in Durham and Bristol’s Hydra. Starting up a new bookshop can be a daunting process, and the Alliance has already proven to be a valuable resource to turn to for advice and encouragement.”

“We’re taking it one day at a time, but hopefully the ARB will become an ever-growing presence on the bookselling landscape. One of the primary initiatives we’re kicking off with is a new book award for political non-fiction: we’re calling it the Bread and Roses Award.”

Bread and Roses Award for Radical Publishing

In addition to fostering a community for booksellers, the Alliance is proud to announce the first annual Bread and Roses Award for Radical Publishing. With a prize of £1000 for the winning author to be announced on the 1st May 2012, the Bread and Roses Award aims to promote the publication of radical books, to raise the profile of radical publishing, and to reward exceptional work.

The Bread and Roses Award will be awarded by a panel of judges including children’s novelist and poet Michael Rosen, lecturer and feminist author Nina Power, and Festival Director of Liverpool’s annual Writing on the Wall Festival, Madeline Heneghan.

The Prize seeks to reward outstanding works of non-fiction published in 2011 that engage with socialist, anarchist, environmental, feminist and anti-racist concerns, and primarily will inspire, support or report on political and/or personal change. They may relate to global, national, local or specialist areas of interest.

The name Bread and Roses is taken from the slogan attributed to textile workers in Lawrence, Massachusetts, who, at least in the song commemorating the event, struck “for bread, and for roses too.”

Ross Bradshaw, of Five Leaves Publishing and one of the trustees of the inaugural prize, says: “Radical publishing is going through a small renaissance, but we also want to recognise radical books published by mainstream publishers. This new award will raise the profile of radical publishing and writing in this country, reward good writing and encourage people to read books by left of centre writers.

Ross will be officially launching the prize at the Chapter and Verse Literature Festival in Liverpool on the 13th October

The winner of the first Bread and Roses Award will be announced on the 1st May 2012, with the award being presented at Clapham’s Bread and Roses pub – an ideal venue, not just because of the shared name, but because of the pub’s connection with the Workers’ Beer Company and the Battersea and Wandsworth Trades Union council, which founded the pub.

More information and links

For more information on the Alliance of Radical Booksellers visit
and for further details on submitting to the Bread and Roses Award visit

Interview with Nik Gorecki on radical bookselling in The Guardian:

For all enquiries please contact:Nik Gorecki
Housmans Booksellers
5 Caledonian Road
London N1 9DX
Ph: 020 7837 4473
Mobile: 07950 269 286


Ross Bradshaw
Five Leaves Publications
PO Box 8786

0115 9895465 / 0115 9693597


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On 2011-11-23 14:29:41 Ben Sellers wrote:

You can now follow the Alliance of Radical Booksellers on Twitter at @ARB_information and a facebook group has been created for booksellers, publishers and supporters - look for Alliance of Radical Booksellers


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