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The New Team at October Books!

October Books was founded in 1977 and has been based at 243 Portswood Road for approximately 15 years. It is a familiar face on our High Street. As a completely independent bookshop, it is one of an increasingly dying breed with only 1,000 independent bookshops left in the UK. With giant companies like Amazon taking much of the market, they are fighting for their very survival but are still paying their taxes! However, once they are gone, they will never return. Indeed, this nearly happened in 2014 when October Books launched an appeal for the public to help them through a difficult period. Amazingly, it was saved from closure by overwhelming public support.

Shop sign

October Books is not run along traditional management lines. It is a not-for-profit co-operative run by its collective members for the community. There are volunteers and collective members. Volunteers can become a collective member after 6 months. Collective members are part of the co-operative and it is the co-operative that runs the shop. Any profits made are ploughed back into the business. It trades independently from any political organisation and seeks to promote a fair and equal society.

With existing co-operative members due to retire or move on to pastures new, including Ian Lamming, a full-time staff member who has been the familiar face of October Books for decades, it was decided to advertise in February for new members to take over the co-operative.

A new team is now in place to run the next stage in the shop’s journey. They start in July and in early June, I went to meet them.

OctoberBooksImage

Joey Jones, Jess Haynes, Jaquie Daniels and Clare Diaper are the new team who will work together to run the shop as part of the co-operative. In July, they become part-time, paid staff members, working alongside volunteers.

So why did they join up and what do they feel they can contribute?

Joey has a great interest in books. He is an avid reader and owns nearly 1,000 books! His long term dream has always been to work with books. He is keen to get involved in the general and academic book ordering side. October Books sells a lot of University texts and receives book lists from many University departments.

Jaquie has always had an interest in books. She worked for some time in Foyles Bookshop in London. When she volunteered to work in the Cancer Research shop in Eastleigh, she was asked to manage the book section. She is a qualified Accountant and has been a Treasurer with several charities. She is keen to get involved on the finance side

Clare has worked in many projects in Southampton. One of them is Free Books – Southampton. This voluntary organisation promotes books for free and stops them going to landfill by collecting books and redistributing them at various events as part of the free economy. Clare also wrote the book entitled ‘Walks from railway stations in and around Southampton’ which was the No 1 best seller in October Books just before Christmas! Having worked in a health food shop for the last 6 months, Clare is also keen to use her experience in food ordering. October Books sells eco, organic and fair-trade products, dry and non-perishable goods, and green cleaning and household items and toiletries. The range is considerable.

Jess is the only one of the four who has previously been a volunteer and collective member and part of the co-operative. She will continue to order cards and diaries, and will share in book ordering as well as co-ordinating volunteers, promotions, events, cooking demos and liaising with community groups who share their values, to use the bookshop space in the evenings.

While each member of the new team brings their own distinct experience, running the bookshop as a collective is an organic process and everyone will do a bit of everything. The structure is one where the roles are interchangeable and where everything is shared.

As Joey, Jaquie, Clare and Jess begin their journey, if you have never visited October Books, now is a really good time to start. You will be amazed at what they stock! As well as a huge selection of books, they sell a very wide range of attractive greeting cards; eco, organic and fair-trade foods including vegetarian, vegan and gluten free, as well as green household items. Try their fair-trade Divine chocolate, I have never seen so many different varieties! The shop is a glow of colours as you walk in.

October Books can order any book in print in the UK, US and Europe; just call into the shop or order by phone. While they do not have any online facilities, you can order your books, DVDs or EBooks online from Hive.co.uk, by going onto the October Books website (www.octoberbooks.org) and clicking on the ‘order online’ blue tab on the left hand side. You can get your books delivered to your home at a small cost or pick them up from October Books for free. PLUS a small percentage of the profit comes to October Books!

Please support your local, independent bookshop. It not only keeps money in the community and gives taxes to the Treasury, it also creates a less homogeneous High Street. That has to be good for everyone!

And…… if you have some time and are interested in books, October Books is currently looking to recruit more volunteers. Just call in and you will get a really warm reception!

I will be back to visit the new team in a few months time to see how things have developed!