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Shopped: News From Nowhere

Heather Smith says use it or lose it as the 35-year-old radical bookshop faces tough trading times

Published on July 18th 2009.

Shopped: News From Nowhere

News From Nowhere
96 Bold Street
L1 4HY

0151 708 7270

Established in 1974 as a not-for-profit community book shop, News From Nowhere originally sat on Manchester Street, up by Dale Street flyover, and moved three times before settling at the top of Bold Street where, let's be honest, it belongs.

Named after the 19th century utopian novel by socialist William Morris, the “radically different” business is a properly working women’s co-operative. There is no boss, decisions are all made equally and everybody picks up the same pay.

A steel bin sits close to the entrance for staff and shoppers to burn their bras ceremonially every other hour. Or something like that.

Who and what?
There is no definable NFN-goer. On my visit there was a Niked-up gent swaggering something about a Ringo Starr joke book, just across the way from a CND tattooed, phenomenally pierced lady quietly browsing through the bargain audiobook basket. Let’s just say it takes all sorts.

As for the stock, expect everything that is slightly off or miles away from the mainstream. And not just books. Socialist, republican and anarchist newspapers, magazines promoting peace, harmony and the Pink Paper can all be found stuffed in to partial view somewhere.

There are comfy areas for mums to sit and browse or breastfeed, a toy box to entertain in-to-everything kids, even a kettle, with tea, coffee and milk nearby

if you really wanted to make yourself at home. They ask only for a 30 pence donation at the till.

Free stuff is tucked into every corner, too. Little baskets with CDs, DVDs and audiobooks are marked with makeshift signs inviting shoppers to take a couple at their leisure. Brilliant.

But back to the books, don’t fret if you can’t find the title you’re after on the shelf, NFN will gladly order any book that is currently in print in Britain and Ireland and, what is more, they usually arrive within a couple of days. Just don’t ask for ‘My Life’ by Oswald Mosley.

Why Go There?
Well, there's the unique character, unbeatable range of titles, approachable, knowledgeable staff, the free stuff and bargain boxes.

You will also be kept well and truly in the loop of any up and coming event. A lady popped to inform yesterday’s book buyers that there was to be a free drumming episode in St Luke’s at 6pm. Within seconds, the workers had scrambled together pens and a poster to advertise this “amazing free gig” to passers by.

Unfortunately, none of these loveable perks, which you wouldn’t find elsewhere, proficiently tackle cash flow troubles and NFN are struggling more than usual this summer.

You see, unbridled corporate capitalism doesn't care much for quirkiness. The credit crunch may be biting (we've heard it a million or more times) but as NFN’s anti-capitalist shelves would tell you, 'the bite' for independent concerns more closely resembles flesh being ferociously torn and devoured from the bone, the marrow sucked out, swilled and spat, and neatly finishing the red paint on a brand new Tesco Express exterior.

Either that, or it's their failure to stock Namedropper, by Pete Price.

The future?
...is uncertain just now. Business usually picks up in autumn when droves of new studes pile in. NFN is in close contact with all of the city’s universities, so essential course books are pre-ordered. And there is always the Christmas rush to look forward to. But if you don’t buck your ideas up and help NFN soon, they might not see this season through and that would be a real shame. The message is simple: use it or lose it.

Verdict: The alternative page-turner's paradise.

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9 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Ay! Carmela!July 2nd 2009.

Rally round, people. The city would be poorer without NFN.

Wavy GravyJuly 2nd 2009.

Very amusing Heather. Now back to your books....

Booky wookyJuly 2nd 2009.

Would be unthinkable if News from Nowhere disappeared. Act people! Ditch Amazon and Waterstones in Liverpool one and keep this place alive!

robert crumJuly 2nd 2009.

This brilliant little enterprise keeps alive and well the hopes and dreams of a whole generation of people cruelly disillusioned by Thatcher and her criminal gang.Derek Hatton was right - news from nowhere keeps us sane in an increasingly mad world.Everyone send a tenner today.

Mandy from News from NowhereJuly 2nd 2009.

What a brilliant (and hilarious) article! Thanks so much to you all, especially Heather. We're getting quite a bit of support as the word gets round, so no danger of us closing. Keep on truckin!

bookwormJuly 2nd 2009.

Gizza tenner! Everyone (in work) reading about News from Nowhere should stroll up Bold Street and throw a tenner into their collection box. Shops like this are a priceless gem. Don't think about doing it, do something. Please, and as an eternal optimist, thank you.

tubergalJuly 2nd 2009.

Suggestion box - can you guys add a coffee franchise please?It is time to put one over on greeedy fatcats like Waterstones.Fairtrade foods would complement NFN very well.(Better still if you can focus upon the pink pound - merseyside needs a focus for its neglected gay community)Thanks.

dave rogersJuly 2nd 2009.

I am sad and I'm back

FrankJuly 2nd 2009.

Great article, vital message - whatever we've still got to spend, genunine local shops deserve a big share of. NfN's service is second to none...and its world music range of CDs gets better all the time!

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