News from Nowhere
Presented by: Professor Frank Sanderson
News From Nowhere Bookshop opened its doors on Mayday 1974 in tiny premises on Manchester Street and in its 30 years of existence has moved three times before occupying its current site on Liverpool's Bold St.
This 5-storey building is now owned by the Workers Co-operative which runs the bookshop as a not-for-profit community business. That means that the bookshop is owned and managed collectively by the paid workers, with equal rates of pay which is currently set at the minimum wage.
Tasks, responsibilities and decision-making are shared. And no-one makes money out of the bookshop. Any profit remains within the business, paying for essential running costs & building up the stock.
It has been a women's collective since 1981, providing many women with the experience of running a business, and developing their skills in bookselling, retail and accounts. The bookshop's primary aim is to provide access to books and information on the reality of the world and how to change it and ourselves for the better through peace, equality and justice. It prides itself on its efficient and helpful customer service and ordering facilities.
It has built up strong links with local schools, universities and colleges, providing books for all ages from infants to degree students. The collective has had to overcome difficulties such as dilapidated buildings, economic hardships, ruthless landlords, the rise of chain and internet bookselling and not least a determined campaign of arson attacks from fascist groups in the 1980s.
But News From Nowhere has shown what can be achieved through the dedication of its workers (who now have over 60 years bookselling experience amongst them) and the determination of the city to support and retain a vital resource and focal point for campaigns for change. Nothing has been able to dampen their spirit or shake their belief that books can be revolutionary and that there's no substitution for browsing real books on real shelves.
News from Nowhere is now thriving as the major independent bookshop in Liverpool, with its own building packed full of weird and wonderful books on subjects from anarchism to zen, & CDs of magical music from all corners of the globe.
The bookshop's stock and philosophy reflect the hopefulness that 19th century socialist William Morris espoused in his utopian novel "News From Nowhere", that a better world is possible and that books are crucial on the path to empowerment and justice.
They are committed to social change, declaring on their website: We hope that the literature we stock empowers and inspires people to make positive changes to the world - from challenging the power of corporate capitalism to breaking down prejudiced attitudes to others and ourselves. Over the years we've supported and promoted many struggles for justice - including anti-apartheid, Troops Out (of Ireland), the Liverpool Dockers, and currently the Stop the War campaign. We refuse to stock anything that is oppressive - racist, sexist, homophobic or otherwise.
News From Nowhere is celebrating its 30th Birthday with an unusual programme of events. Never afraid of controversy, they have always stood outside the mainstream, but this year sees a recognition of the positive role the bookshop has played in the life of Liverpool and beyond with a Lord Mayor's civic reception at the Town Hall, and participation in the finals of the Big Difference Awards.
But just in case people get the idea that this radical bookshop has gone soft, the collective are organizing their celebrations around the theme "We are All Immigrants".
On the day that 10 new countries joined the EU, Saturday 1st of May, News From Nowhere countered the racist media hype which accompanies any talk of immigration by inviting customers to celebrate their varied origins. Badges and balloons were handed out proclaiming "We Are All Immigrants" and customers were invited to mark their origins, or their ancestors' origins, on a Map of Diversity, making visible the true roots of Liverpool as a Capital of Culture - rather than, as they put it, "a culture of capital".
In their 30th anniversary year, Liverpool John Moores University is proud to honour News From Nowhere Radical Bookshop and its staff in grateful recognition for the service they have provided to students and staff over the past 30 years.
I have great pleasure in inviting Mandy Vere to receive, on behalf News From Nowhere Radical Bookshop, the Anniversary Achievement Award from this University.