Bookmarks Bookshop: "the University for activists"
For Independent Bookshop Week we've teamed up with 5 of our favourite independent radical booksellers, which we will be profiling on our blog all week. We've also given them Verso Books filled tote bags for you to pick up in their shops on the Independent Bookshop Crawl on Saturday 27th June. See here for more details on how you can get your hands on one!
Our final profile for Independent Bookshop Week is on Bookmarks Bookshop!
1 Bloomsbury St, London WC1B 3QE
Bookmarks Bookshop has been selling books for over 40 years. Originally based in Finsbury Park, they moved to their current central London location, just around the corner from the Trades Union Congress (TUC), around 15 years ago. Although they have firm foundations in London, Bookmarks provide bookstalls at events across the country, from the Tolpuddle Festival to major demonstrations and trade union conferences. Their ‘I Still Hate Thatcher’ mugs have made it onto the front page of the Daily Mail, the shop itself featured recently on BBC's Newsnight, and they have linked up with artists such as Leon Kuhn and musicians like Thee Faction and Steve White & The Protest Family for events and gigs.
Bookmarks maintain close ties with Ruskin College, which was originally established to provide university-standard education for the working classes. Working closely with the TUC, Bookmarks act as their booksellers and ensure that TUC publications can be found at many major conferences and events across the UK. They are often on the route of demonstrations that take place in London and the staff always deck the shop front with flags and banners and offer solidarity to local strikers and marchers. They also send books across the world and offer a full mail-order service for individuals, educational establishments and trade unions.
Their range of books covers politics, economics, trade unionism, labour history, the environment, black struggle, women, culture, fiction, radical kid's books and much more. They stock a great selection of badges, cards, t-shirts and even radical tea towels! They have worked with the NUT and other teaching unions to make sure that their selection of books for younger readers is challenging and varied, and they were recently granted the Let Toys Be Toys "Toymark" good practice award for displaying books in a way that is welcoming and inclusive to all children.
Not only does Bookmarks offer a brilliant range of literature but they also publish a great selection of titles - books that tackle some of the big questions that socialists and trade unionists are currently asking. These include the popular and accessible Rebel's Guide series, which now covers Karl Marx, Lenin, Luxemburg, Trotsky, Gramsci and Eleanor Marx. They offer a full programme of author events covering the latest political books, radical culture and even music. They have welcomed Michael Rosen, Stuart Cosgrove, Michael Moore, Melissa Benn, Gerry Adams, Ghada Karmi, Ken Loach, John Pilger, Gary Younge, Sheila Rowbotham and many others. They are very proud that Tony Benn called them "the University for activists", and we couldn't agree more with this assessment!
You can visit them online here, and if you pop into Bookmarks tomorrow (Saturday 27th) you can pick up your own VERSO TOTE BAG filled with VERSO GOODIES! (whilst stocks last. More info here)