Pages of Hackney
This year’s final Bookshop of the Month is the delightful Pages of Hackney. East London’s beloved blue bookshop has had a truly triumphant 2018, celebrating both a decade of business and a big win at the British Book Awards. We spoke to bookshop manager, Jo, about this year’s milestones, bestsellers and events…
1. 2018 has been quite a year for Pages of Hackney! You were named London Independent Bookshop of the Year back in March and marked your ten year anniversary in September. How did you celebrate these milestones?
It has been an amazing year for Pages and in some ways it has felt like a culmination of a lot of hard work. Both the award and the 10 year anniversary were like landmarks which enabled us to take stock of what we’ve achieved, and identify things we are still working on. We celebrated the award with a slap-up meal, and the anniversary with an all-day party in the shop featuring readings from a line-up of authors (who have supported us since the beginning or whose books have been shop favourites), free booze, folk music and a huge blue cake!
2. Pages is well known for being a welcoming and friendly bookshop. Tell us about your bookselling vision.
This is probably one of our key aims as booksellers. Bookshops can sometimes feel daunting and overwhelming so we always aim to be friendly, welcoming and inclusive to anyone who comes in. The whole point is to make books accessible, to find the right book for each customer and ensure it is a warm and calm space where they can browse the stock. The books we choose are also intended to reflect as broad a demographic as is possible, and we believe it’s important to reflect groups who have been underrepresented in the past, starting from the fact that the perspective of people who have always had power (or publishing deals) is not universal. We hope that our customers see us as a community hub as well as a shop.
3. Not only do you host author events in store, but you also act as the official booksellers for various events across London (not least for a number of Yale launches!). What has been your favourite event of the past year?
My favourite event this year was one of our own: a panel discussion about the cultural legacy of Windrush with Margaret Busby, Jacob Ross, Sharmaine Lovegrove and Patrick Vernon. Both the panel and the audience were really passionate and eloquent which made for a really lively discussion. In the audience Q&A it was a total privilege to hear the many personal stories that were shared, and the vast (and often overlooked) contribution made by the Windrush generation to this country, so it was quite moving.
4. Pages boasts an eclectic range of books on its shelves. What have been your 2018 bestsellers?
Well, we still have Christmas to go, but the following books have been consistently in our top ten monthly bestsellers:
- Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo Lodge
- Normal People by Sally Rooney
- Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney
- The Cost of Living by Deborah Levy
- Crudo by Olivia Laing
- Things to Make & Break by May-Lan Tan
- The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh
5. And finally, do you have any exciting plans for the shop that you’d like to share with us?
We’re currently planning our Christmas window (quite late!); we’ve just had a meeting with our window painter, which is pretty exciting! But you’ll have to wait for the big reveal…