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Author Stephen Cox celebrates the opening of a co-operatively run bookshop just down the road in Wood Green.

all good bookshopTim Webb (right), formerly of the Big Green Bookshop, is manager of the newly opened All Good Bookshop

The All Good Bookshop has opened in funky Blue House Yard, a couple of minutes walk from Wood Green Station.

In a few short months, the community rallied round to create this new bookshop for the area. It will be a cooperative, employing Tim West, one of the two men behind the famous Big Green Bookshop. They are seeking people to join the co-op, support, ideas, and customers. And they have ambitious plans.

A great bookshop is more than somewhere that sells books. A great bookshop adds to its community

A little history. The Big Green Bookshop began when Waterstones closed its viable Wood Green branch. The prosperous west-ish half of Haringey then had three bookshops but the less prosperous east-ish had none. Lively, local, scruffy, and visible, the new bookshop soon made its mark. For ten years, it showed what could be done, even in tough years for the high street and competition from tax dodging corporations. And although last year its people needed to move on, it left a big gap.

The Big Green Bookshop sold books, it had booksellers with time to talk, and it offered recommendations not driven by marketing budgets. (I must point out, it lives on as an online business and social media phenomenon, run still by one of the founding duo. Follow them on Twitter.)

But the shop did more than this. It worked with schools, and had readings for kids. It supported discussion groups, talks, comedy nights, several book groups, and the writing group I joined in 2013. It happens to be the best writing group I have ever been to – supportive, challenging, friendly, and inclusive It was where I read the first chapter of my book, where I got encouragement to talk to agents, and where better place then to launch the book in January 2019? A wonderful evening, but bittersweet as it was the last event run by the old shop.

Great meeting places help make things happen.

And now we have the new. All Good Bookshop has a trim little shop and Tim is waiting for your custom. The longer-term plan is extra space or a permanent larger home, to allow more meetings and events. Famous authors, open mike nights, workshops… a place connecting people, words and books. Maybe even a writer in residence.

The new shop can learn from the old. The old shop was not the ideal space, it found it hard to do events and sell books at the same time, and reasonable community space in Wood Green is hard to find.

The co-operative model involves more people to generate ideas and networks. It makes the business less reliant on one individual. And it roots the new venture in the community, in human scale. AGB will soon launch their updated website, and shares will be available to purchase, allowing members of the local community to join the co-op and help steer their future decisions.

I hope to see you there.

Stephen Cox's debut novel, Our Child of the Stars, was published in January this year and is available from the All Good Bookshop.

The All Good Bookshop is at Blue House Yard, 5 River Park Roadd, N22 7TB   

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