November 9, 2018
Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights set to expand; smashes crowdfund target
by Tom Clayton
The good news keeps coming for the UK‘s independent booksellers, as they continue to defy financial and logistical obstacles via outpourings of goodwill from local communities.
In recent weeks we’ve reported on the huge support for Newham Bookshop‘s forced relocation, and the ingenious human chain employed by October Books in Southampton to move their premises one-tenth of a mile down the road to a new location.
Today it’s the turn of Mr. B’s Emporium of Reading Delights in Bath, regularly described as one of the most beautiful bookshops in the world, to report a positive story. Since opening in 2006, the shop has firmly cemented itself as a high-street favourite in the city, and has continually pushed the boundaries (in a good way) of the bookselling experience, with their site boasting ‘Extreme Customer Service’.
Unique aspects include the country’s first reading spa (appropriately, given Bath’s status as an historic Roman water-park) – and some of the shop’s booksellers also form part of The Bookshop Band, based in Wigtown, Scotland.
It is now planning to expand its premises, in what sounds like spectacular fashion. Back in October, The Bookseller reported they had begun a crowdfunder with an initial goal of £45,000, with a view to taking on a second lease on an adjacent premises. It will also allow the shop to install a dedicated children’s reading area away from the ‘thoroughfare’ between the main shop and the staircase, and allow them to put on more author events.
The revamped children’s section sounds especially magical, boasting a woodland theme and forming part of a playful space called ‘The Imaginarium‘ – which will, according to shop founder Nic Bottomley, “[be] a special area to celebrate the crafts of writing and illustration that underpin everything a bookshop is about”.
Bottomley justified the crowdfunding tactic as an alleviation of some of the “conventional and expensive” bank funding they’ll require to complete the project.
Having smashed that initial target within weeks, and been “completely surprised” by the huge response, the shop then announced a stretch to £70,000 – which this week closed at a whopping £63,765. A delighted response from staff read:
“We will be in touch with every one of you shortly about reward details. In the meantime, our to-do list just got a whole lot bigger! It is now upon us to work along with our project team to help create a new space that is truly fabulous for you all to enjoy.”
They estimate that a ‘teaser space’, showing off the new premises, will be installed next month, with the full expansion in place by February 2019. We can’t wait to see what Mr. B’s have in store next… and of course, to drop in on the gorgeous spa town itself, very soon.
Tom Clayton is publishing executive at Melville House UK.