Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper
Bookbuster performance

Bookbuster performance featuring Ivan

Local independent bookshop needs support

Independent book shops are gems, standing out from – and up against – competition from the book selling chain stores. Tim Barton is a committed book lover and book seller, supporting local writers, performers and artists. In need of refurbishment and expansion into new areas – like a cafe for visitors – Tim is keen to raise some financial support to manifest the vision he has for Bookbuster. HOT’s Zelly Restorick helps spread the word.

Last year, hunkered down in the cramped area behind the front counter of Bookbuster, surrounded by piles of books and with a head brimming full of ideas, Tim told me about his plans for the shop. I’m very pleased to see that he is actively doing something to make his dreams come true by setting up a Crowdfunding campaign.

Support your local independent bookshop, folks. Every donation – whatever the amount – will make a difference.

Bookbuster on Queen's Road

Bookbuster on Queen’s Road

About the project in Tim’s words

“At Bookbuster, we sell bargain books, secondhand books, a selection of brand new titles of local and/or of topical interest, records and CDs and local artists’ greetings cards, postcards and craft items. The business has been slow to build and a few things are urgent to boost sales – and to give more entertainment to our customers!

“The most immediate need is too refit the children’s section, to build a new till-point and open up a stage for performances. There are further plans (though these will have to wait), such as re-doing the signage outside, fitting new shelving throughout and getting the place fit for a small cafe space too!

“If we are successful in raising funds for refitting the back section of the shop, it will give our children’s area a serious boost and at the same time enable bigger instore events.

“We have already started a monthly poetry night, Sheer Poetry (every third Thursday) and host regular music performances – including, for example, Otti Albeitz, Thad Skews, Rufus Stone, Eleanor Lynn, No Middle Man, Oudolin, Zeug!, and others. We have had book events for local authors – including, for example, Bronwen Griffiths, Kim Stallwood, K D Faerydae, and Paul Dayrell. We’ve also had readings by local poets, and hosted plays too. But all on the smallest scale possible, as the ‘stage’ doesn’t really exist!

“We also plan to run kids’ events instore, and the ‘stage area’ will facilitate that too – if we can raise the monies needed!”

Tim Barton amongst the books

Tim Barton amongst the books

Support from Earlyworks Press

“Some towns have negligible rent and/or business rates to encourage independent small shop keepers to set up. Hastings is not generous or supportive of such schemes. As well as water, electricity, rent and business rates, Hastings shopkeepers have to, for example, pay the council a fiver a day if they need to park their vans anywhere near the shops, which doesn’t sound a lot, but adds up and for marginal businesses is a killer.

“Tim’s bookstall was a regular at Hastings, and other, street markets and events for a long time,” says Kay Green of Earlyworks Press. “The range of books he found by exploring different wholesalers and specialist presses always made a refreshing change from the very predictable stock of a small branch of a corporate bookshop that was our only other option in Hastings town centre.

“It was a brave decision, to take the step up to running a shop. Hastings isn’t a big-spending town and this is hardly an encouraging time to start an expensive, high risk business, but with considerable ingenuity, a lot of hard work and a team of willing volunteers, he got it up and running.

“Necessity is the mother of invention they say, but a wicked sense of humour helps, too. Shop signs are expensive. So why not take over the old Blockbuster store, get someone to take their tool kit to the lettering and call the place BOOKbuster? That’s just one of the million ways the task was achieved.

“There was going to be a full refit, a coffee corner and all manner of other swanky things once things settled down but so far, it’s been all hands on deck just to keep going. The vital point here is that Bookbuster isn’t struggling because it lacks supporters. The money that goes into the till every day from the book lovers of Hastings is going on bills, bills bills. (See above.)

“We have an owner-manager who is a mine of local information, always willing to research, find and discuss books on all kinds of subjects and is attentive enough to get to know, and come up with appropriate recommendations for, regular customers.

“It generally takes a year or two for independent shops to build a customer-base. That’s a long time to go on working extended days on a barely subsistence income. Having done that, shopkeepers then need to do extensive financial acrobatics to get into their stride before they can start investing at a new level.

“Bookbuster hasn’t seen its refit or its coffee corner yet and the bills are not getting any smaller. That’s why Jamie Tarrant had the fantastic idea of running the marathon in aid of Bookbuster. He did, and he raised several hundred pounds – but really, Bookbuster could do with around £1500 to be sure of its future. That’s why we’re asking you, now, to chip in a few quid – not out of charity, but out of a community effort to help Hastings keep the shop that author R J Dent recently called ‘a cultural oasis’.”

BookBuster, 39 Queen’s Road, Hastings, TN34 1RL

Bookbusters’ Facebook page.

Link to RJ Dent’s overview of ‘Bookbusters’ when Tim first opened the doors and link to RJ Dent’s website.

Posted 21:34 Tuesday, Dec 8, 2015 In: Campaigns


Please read our comment guidelines before posting on HOT

  1. lity

    I got a lot of useful tips about local bookstore from this article. Thank you very much!
    I have another article about local bookstore. Maybe you will be interested in it^_^
    Parenting Styles – Overcoming Your Differences – WiserParenting

    Comment by lity — Sunday, Apr 26, 2020 @ 09:41

  2. Tim Barton

    Thank you Zelly & HoT!
    Much appreciated 🙂

    Comment by Tim Barton — Thursday, Dec 10, 2015 @ 11:09

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