A crowdfunding appeal have been started to save the UK’s first specialist black bookshop - New Beacon Bookshop. New Beacons is threatened with closure after more than 55 years due to financial problems, it was recently announced.
Creating a space for black writers, New Beacon Books was founded by the activist John La Rose and his partner, Sarah White in 1966. It is the only remaining independent Black publishing and bookselling entity in the UK. Throughout its 55 years, it has been pivotal to the growth of the Black Education Movement, the Black Supplementary School Movement and current calls for the decolonisation of the curriculum.
Unlike Amazon and other online suppliers, New Beacon has been at the heart of communities, building social movements and giving expression to young voices. It remains a huge part of the history of the adaptation of British society to its historical and post-war Black presence. Save and develop it for coming generations.
In 1991, New Beacon Books and the Bookfair gave rise to the George Padmore Institute (GPI), an archive and library dedicated to preserving and curating the archives of political and cultural activists who were pioneers in our struggles before and since the 1945 5th Pan-African Congress held in Manchester, of which the Trinidad-born political theorist George Padmore was a key organiser. The GPI was gifted 76 Stroud Green Road, Finsbury Park, N4, which had been the home of New Beacon Books since 1975.
As a result of the pandemic and the various lockdowns, New Beacon Books has seen a marked decrease in footfall and consequent income and overheads have increased. But with financial pressures exacerbated by coronavirus adding to the competition from online retailers such as Amazon, it was suggested the store will close its physical outlet on Stroud Green Road and move online only.
However, the crowfunding appeal has already raised more than £42,000 since its launch. The funding will provide contingency funding, extending runway which allows management further time to execute a new commercial strategy.
The announcement of the store’s closure, posted on its website earlier this month, has been met with dismay and disappointment on social media.
The actor Adjoa Andoh tweeted: “I am so sad about this wonderful bookshop and the haven of cultural solidarity and information it provided to the black and extended communities for over half a century.”
Another social media user, Elliot Ross, commented: “How have we in the UK made this a time of unprecedented ‘visibility’ for works by Black authors, while at the same time producing the conditions in which a radical bulwark like New Beacon Books can’t sustain itself after half a century of vital work?”
Emeka Forbes tweeted: “Much of what I know about anti-racism, I found between the pages of books purchased at New Beacon when I lived in Finsbury Park.”
Click here for more information about saving New Beacons Bookshop.