A new academic bookshop will be opening in mid-September on New Cross Road just a short walk from Goldsmiths.
The Word will be open to the public but have a special interest in selling academic texts to students of Goldsmiths. Owner, David Brett, told EastLondonLines that The Word will be independent, but maintain a close, collaborative relationship with the university.
“I want the shop to become part of the fabric of the university.” Said Brett.
The Word will stock books from the reading lists of all Goldsmiths courses, as well as some of the supplementary books listed. Brett is working with Goldsmiths lecturers to ensure that students can purchase the necessary course texts in time for the start of the new academic year.
“I’ve got a lot of reading lists in front of me, the problem I’ve got at the moment is finding out roughly how many students will be recommended to buy each book so I know how many I need to order.”
“I’ve got a meeting with the Goldsmith’s library liaison officer this afternoon so hopefully I can extract the information I need, I don’t need exact figures, I just need to know roughly how many students will be on each course.” Said Brett.
The inspiration for Brett’s bookshop came during a barbecue thrown by his mother in celebration of completing her Master’s degree. “The topic of bookshops came up, and I said the only place I could imagine opening a bookshop is New Cross, because there are none and it has the right vibe for one. Then a little while later, I was speaking to someone else about it and they said ‘you know the Blackwells at Goldsmiths has just closed down’, so I went home, ideas started buzzing and I decided to put together a proposal.”
Brett intended on opening the shop in the empty space left by Blackwell, instead of the spot on New Cross Road, but by the time he’d got in touch with the university, it was taken.
“It wasn’t going to be a shop, I think it was going to be an events space for the university, but because the bookshop space within the university was snaffled up by the student union, I had to set my sights elsewhere.”
Brett recognises the challenges of running a bookshop, having managed independent academic bookshops for 15 years.
“Up until now I was managing Marylebone Books, an academic bookshop on the University of Westminster campus.” Said Brett.
“I’m very aware that there was probably a reason that Blackwell left, but I’m hoping that reason is more along the lines that they weren’t making enough money to satisfy the higher ups than suffering any real financial trouble.” Brett added.
The publishing industry can make it difficult to discount books and still profit from the sales, but Brett assured ELL that he’d be working hard to provide discounts to students.
“You’re kind of hog tied a little bit with books, because you’re given a recommended retail price by the publishers and you’re always operating under a certain amount of doubt that the books will sell, so if you have to discount them, you still have to pay the publishers the same amount.”
“If you’re on good terms with publisher’s reps you can negotiate better terms. I’ve always kept in touch with reps and any discount I get, I’ll be passing on to students. I especially want to use my relationship with the reps to offer promotions on some of the core textbooks.”
The bookshop’s opening could be good news for students looking for part-time work, as Brett is in contact with the Goldsmiths careers service to discuss hiring students as booksellers.
The Word will offer an online reserve service as well as recreational books for the general public. Books will be geared more toward a high street audience after October each year to ensure students have time to acquire the books for their courses first.
Brett hopes to open The Word on September 19.