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Printed Matter bookshop, Hastings, Queens Road

Printed Matter is small but packed with worlds of words. Owner, Lee, is on the left.

Books v. handbags

Now summer is over and the nights are drawing in, what better way to spend your evenings than curling up in a chair and exploring the world through the pages of a book? Esme Needham meets Lee Humphries – Hastings’ newest purveyor of words on paper.

A new bookshop, Printed Matter, has just opened on Queen’s Road. Unlike any other bookshop we have, this one stocks radical and political books. There are sections on a number of topics, including history, gardening, philosophy, art and economics, and also a graphic novel section and a very large fiction section.

There is a section on feminism – including books by Emma Goldman, Mary Wollstonecraft, and also more modern authors like Susan Faludi and bell hooks. The ‘black interest’ section stocks – among many other authors – works by Angela Davis, Gary Younge, and, my personal favourite, Mary Seacole, a part-Jamaican nurse whose outrage at being discriminated against because of her race (she insisted she was not black, just a little ‘duskier’ than her white colleagues) won her fame to equal Florence Nightingale’s during the Crimean War. The bookshop also stocks an impressive number of books from the Graphic Guides series.

00PrintedMatterWindowA political theme runs through the fiction – many of the books on sale here had (and still have) social and political reverberations. The same can be said, on a smaller scale, of the graphic novel section, which includes a book about Rosa Luxemburg and many comics by Marjane Satrapi. The art and culture section is rich and varied, with books about everything from Frida Kahlo to Studio Ghibli and Hokusai to pioneering women in Jamaican music.

The owner of the bookshop, Lee, moved down from London to Hastings in January. This is the first time he’s ever had a bookshop, so he wanted to make sure he stocked books that you might not find elsewhere. He says that if you’re going to run an independent bookshop, “You’ve got to look at what’s around, see the books there, and try not to duplicate them.” He studied criminology in the late nineties, and has worked for homeless charities for most of his life, and says he would recommend Malcolm X and Emma Goldman in particular from the authors in his shop. When people come into the shop and strike up a conversation, though, he tries to find out what subjects they’re interested in and recommending books accordingly.

Lee has been spreading the word about the bookshop, including door-to-door leafleting and is considering starting a reading group. He also offers a book ordering service and if you are a student, you are eligible for a 10% discount.

I seem to recall the shop where Printed Matter is situated has been many things over the years, including a handbag shop. Personally, I’m a lot more interested in books than I am in handbags, and I’m pretty sure that applies to plenty of people in Hastings. Admittedly the bookshop isn’t huge, but it’s varied and packed with interesting finds you definitely wouldn’t see in Waterstones. Lee thinks that “It’s good to have different shops down Queen’s Road,” and in the case of Printed Matter, I’d certainly agree.

00Memphis68PACKSHOT.thumb.jpg.6aaa80f0bf444daa8b551283d18c6411Printed Matter Bookshop is at:
185 Queens Road, Hastings  TN34 1RG

Tel: 01424 440466

Wed 4 October Book Launch: Lee is hosting an author reading for Stuart Cosgrove’s new book at 6pm on Wednesday 4 October, tickets £3. Plans are in the offing for more events including talks and readings with Jake Arnott, Paul Mason and Iain Sinclair.


Posted 10:20 Monday, Sep 25, 2017 In: Shops & Things

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