Rare Birds Book Shop, an independent bookseller dedicated to women's writing, opened recently at 13 Raeburn Place in Stockbridge, a suburb of Edinburgh, Scotland. The store is owned by Rachel Wood and was born out of her "desire to center and 'celebrate' words by women," the Bookseller reported. Wood launched the Rare Birds Book Club and subscription service four years ago, and considers the bookshop an extension of that online community.
"The success of the book club certainly made it possible to make this dream a reality," she said. "I had a vision of a headquarters for us; where we could work from and run the subscription, host events and showcase the books and authors we love."
Rare Birds Books is a trans-inclusive celebration of women's writing. Wood observed: "I'm sure I'm not alone in my experience of studying English literature at school--the reading lists were dominated by male authors and I became conscious of the fact that the male perspective of the world was basically the default lens we were viewing the world through.
"At some point I started thinking about what would happen if this were the other way around--what if the default point of view was female? What themes would come up? What would we notice? It was an interesting idea for me and I started making a point of seeking out female authors in my own reading."
When she launched Rare Birds, Wood said she "wanted to shine a spotlight on all the interesting books women were writing and bring them to the notice of our readers, and then I wanted to completely neutralize the tedious conversation that's so often attached to women's writing."
|Mandy Vere at News from Nowhere
Mandy Vere, a "steadfast member of the radical bookselling community," plans to retire after working for 45 years at News from Nowhere Radical & Community Bookshop in Liverpool, England, which is run by a women's co-operative, the Bookseller reported. She is the longest-serving member of the shop's staff, having started her full-time job when she was 21.
"I realized that this was my vocation really--I loved bookselling, I loved the books, obviously the politics--all right up my street," she said, adding: "Liverpool is a very political city, and people absolutely love the bookshop. It wears its heart on its sleeve. We have books about every subject under the sun but always with a social justice message. We've got loads of young people coming in at the moment, buying their badges and flags, buying their books on feminism and anti-racism. There's a lovely vibe to the place. It's much more than a bookshop."
Vere added: "I never thought I would want to retire because I love my job, I love being a bookseller, I love News from Nowhere, I love Liverpool, I love all our customers and I love finding the right books for people--but having said that there's a number of things that have come together in my life. I've become a granny so I'm very involved with my grandson, and I was on furlough for part of the year last year. When you get a bit older it does take it out of you, running so fast. I'm very involved in campaigns--we're trying to stop the arms fair that's coming to Liverpool in October, there's a lot I'd like to continue doing with feminism and women's rights campaigns. I also love walking and bird watching--so there's lots of things I want to do more of, all the things you can't manage when you're working full time.... I'm sure I will come in and help out whenever they need someone, but I've got a lot of things in my life I love. It's a big thing to leave when it's your life's work."
For the latest entry in a series run in partnership with the Melbourne City of Literature Office to showcase bookstores in the UNESCO Cities of Literature network, Books+Publishing connected with La librairie de la bande dessinée et de l'image ("or, in its (non-literal) English translation, The comics museum bookshop of Angoulême") in Southwestern France.
"Angoulême is well known for is its annual International Comics Festival, an event that reflects the vibrant comics culture of the area--something which has been growing over the past 50 years," Books+Publishing noted.
"The bookstore itself was opened about 30 years ago," said bookseller Aurélien Chaignepain. In 2009, the store moved to new, more spacious premises, "located in the Saint-Cybard district of Angoulême, at the bottom of the center of the town. The actual building we are in is a beautifully renovated architectural structure from the 19th century, which used to be warehouses for all sorts of industries, and most recently cellars to stock felt pens and pencils, linked to the paper industry which flourished in the town many years ago."
Asked about future plans for the shop, Chaignepain replied: "To continue to be a major part of the local and national cultural life--and of course to continue to read and sell many, many fabulous comic books to come!" --Robert Gray