Based in north London New Beacon Books has stated it will close its doors in Finsbury Park and move online after over 55 years as an independent book shop. A statement was put out by the bookshop as below. DONATE TO THEIR CROWD FUNDER HERE
Established in 1966, New Beacon Books 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, Alibris 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.
New Beacon Books is facing closure because:
· As a result of the pandemic and the various lockdowns, New Beacon Books has seen a marked decrease in footfall and consequent income. Also, overheads have increased. The growth in online shopping has had a marked impact upon income to independent bookshops generally speaking. In 1982, New Beacon Books and its partner organisations founded the annual International Bookfair of Radical Black and Third World Books, at a time when education providers and the general public were struggling to find books and other education resources by Black authors of fiction and non-fiction.
· 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.
· In order to meet its financial commitments, New Beacon Books must continue to do much more than just sell books. New Beacon Books has a proud history of running public education programmes, including book launches, readings, public lectures, spoken word events, etc.
· The publishing arm of New Beacon Books has been scaled down considerably, but there are increasing calls for New Beacon Publications to commission and publish work by young creatives and provide a forum for the exchange of ideas and for introducing new and old work to new audiences. For New Beacon Books to do this, it must be able to make full use of its existing space, and if necessary, relocate to premises that will allow for the expansion of its publishing and public affairs programmes as well as for bookselling.
New Beacon Books is hugely encouraged by the community’s response to its needs and willingness to donate funds to enable New Beacon Books to survive and grow. The Crowdfunding appeal initiated by Francesca Gilbert and other young supporters who grew up with New Beacon Books is just amazing and New Beacon Books is grateful to them for that.
New Beacon Books is committed to doing the following:
a) Establishing a New Beacon Development Fund (NBDF) to receive monies raised with a governing body comprised mainly of those young supporters.
b) Setting up an event planning and public programmes committee.
c) Utilising some of the funds donated to meet New Beacon Books’ immediate needs.
d) New Beacon Books does not exclude the possibility of acquiring alternative premises, large enough to accommodate publishing, bookselling, writers in residence, public programmes and community events consonant with the aims and mission of New Beacon Books, and adapted appropriately to engage with current challenges facing Black Britain and the society generally.
e) Keeping all our supporters and customers updated on the progress of our plans, inviting their active participation in our programmes, and encouraging feedback and advice.
New Beacon Books would like to thank all those who have reached out, be it to lend their support, or to propose ways and means of raising funds. Their intervention has been most timely.
We look forward to the future.
Michael La Rose – Director, New Beacon Books
Janice Durham – Director, of New Beacon Books
Professor Gus John – Non-Executive Director, New Beacon Books