35 years | Newham Bookshop

Celebrating 35 years: words of support from our friends


In 2003 we published a booklet of articles and poems by our friends and supporters to celebrate our 25th anniversary.

Ten years passed, and we were pleased to celebrate 35 years of real bookselling in 2013. To mark this important milestone, we asked our customers and supporters, together with our friends in the book trade, to provide brief comments about Newham Bookshop on our 35th anniversary. We published a limited-edition booklet in September 2013 including many of these comments. They are now collected here, and we hope you will enjoy reading them as much as we did.

For our part, we are delighted with these comments, but we are also pleased for all the support we receive from customers, authors and publishers. With their help we can continue to supply books to the local community in Newham, organise author events which are greatly appreciated by the audiences, and continue to promote the pleasure of reading and owning books.

Benjamin Zephaniah, poet and author

Benjamin Zephaniah

For 35 years Newham Bookshop has stayed both local and international at the same time, truly reflecting the local people and their ideas. This bookshop has helped the local people pass exams, fall in love, meet authors, become authors, get work experience, get life experience, learn to read, understand Britain, understand the world, understand themselves, and engage in political struggles to liberate themselves and show solidarity with others. It is a bookshop that is still a bookshop and not a transactions location, with people who serve you, and talk to you, rather than process you. This bookshop has made its mark on the history of the people of the East End. This bookshop is so good that it has already made its mark on the future. This bookshop has had books and people at its heart for 35 years, and that’s why I love it. Everywhere you look in this shop you will see books, and if you really open your eyes, everywhere you look in this shop you will see magic.

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Baljit Banga, Director,
Newham Asian Women’s Project

Baljit Banga

Whenever we have needed books on feminism and non-violent discourse, or about the psychosocial impact of violence on young women in society, or about the management of women’s organisations and reconstruction paradigms we have gone to Newham Bookshop. Newham Bookshop has been a landmark for 35 years providing the local community and beyond with knowledge-based materials. It has been an important gathering place for people and the exchange of thought. Well done on 35 years: we wish you continued success as an independent especially in the grassroots market of the organic intellectual.

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Andrew Copson, Chief Executive,
British Humanist Association

Andrew Copson

Newham Bookshop has run the bookstall at all our events and it’s been a pleasure working with them. Here’s to 35 more years!

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Mark Thomas,
comedian and activist

Mark Thomas

Newham Bookshop epitomises what is great about independent bookshops: the type of place that has books you didn’t know you needed sold by people who know their stuff; the type of bookshop that gets stuck into local events whether they are book readings, gigs, fundraisers or political shenanigans; the type of place that is part of the community DNA.

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Daniel Trilling, Editor of New Humanist,
the journal of the Rationalist Association

Daniel Trilling

Happy 35 years, Newham Bookshop — you get people reading, talking and thinking about books. Can’t ask for more.

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Paul Baggaley, Publisher, Picador Books

Paul Baggaley

Vivian and the team at the Newham Bookshop represent everything that is brilliant about independent bookselling. Firstly they possess an absolute passion for reading but even more importantly an amazing talent for communicating their enthusiasm. They also care about all of their community and collaborating with them with schools, libraries as well as in the shop is an incredibly rewarding experience for publishers and authors alike. Congratulations on 35 brilliant years! From all your friends at Picador!

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Robert Elms, author
and broadcaster on BBC London 94.9

Robert Elms

Newham Bookshop is a true East End institution which has been enriching and enlightening the community it serves for 35 years; a true hub of ideas and energy deep in the heart of east London.

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Duncan Barrett and Nuala Calvi,
authors of The Sugar Girls and GI Brides

Duncan Barrett and Nuala Calvi

Newham Bookshop has been our most loyal champion. It is a model of how a local bookshop should be — eclectic and engaged, with strong ties to the community it serves. If only all local bookshops were like this.

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Sarah Wise, author of The Italian Boy,
The Blackest Streets and Inconvenient People

Sarah Wise

I did my first gigs supported by Vivian, Bob and John back in 2004,when The Italian Boy had just come out, and I was new to public speaking. I couldn’t have had a better, more supportive, more engaged team of booksellers behind me. I always say that Vivian would make the most brilliant agent — there are few more knowledgeable about how the book world really works, so Newham Bookshop is a huge source of information and advice for first-time writers (plus the disgruntled midlisters!).

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Chris Cleave, author of Gold

Chris Cleave

Great bookshops do more than sell books. They champion the work of unsung writers, they provide a platform for free expression and debate, and they unite a local community around two timeless passions: the love of books and the fun of discussing them. No bookshop I know does all of this so well as Newham Bookshop. I’ve been a visitor for ten years and not only have Vivian and John been kind supporters of my own work since before I was published, but they have introduced me and my family to the books of authors who have changed our lives. If you prefer deep roots to deep discounts, if you live within a day’s march of east London, and if you enjoy being treated as a fellow human being, drop in to Newham Bookshop and say hello to one of the booksellers. They will ask you a few polite questions, then recommended a book that few people might have heard about but which will mean something to you. And if you ever get the chance, go to one of their events and experience the excitement of being a participant in what must be one of the most diverse local literary communities anywhere in the world.

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Pete May, author of The Joy of Essex

Pete May

Newham Bookshop is the best independent bookshop in London. The teetering piles of books give it a pleasingly Dickensian feel and Vivian is a one-woman literary encyclopaedia. It’s a salon for the soccerati before West Ham games and my daughters love the children’s section. It veers from high politics to local history, via fiction, horror, humour, hooliology and cups of tea for the favoured. The events are superb and I’ve enjoyed every signing I’ve done there. All this, and it’s run by a woman who once starred in Z Cars.

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Robin Ince, comedian, writer and broadcaster

Robin Ince

Our love of books, of the adventures in written words, is one of the things that defines our humanity — the independent bookshop, curated by the interested minds of its owners, is an adventure through shelves. Newham Bookshop is one of those great adventures.

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Nicholas Pearson, Publishing Director, Fourth Estate

Nicholas Pearson

At Fourth Estate we think of Newham Bookshop as part of the family: the passion and dedication this wonderful bookshop brings with it is infectious. It is a jewel in the literary landscape — our authors owe it a huge debt. Apparently bookselling on the high street is under threat. With shops like this around, the physical book will be just fine.

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Iain Sinclair, writer, film maker, poet
and champion of east London

Iain Sinclair

Newham Bookshop is a beacon on any expedition through an increasingly threatened area of east London, careless of its stirring cultural and social history. The Upton Park stadium relocates, in a vortex of dubious deals and economic adventurism, to the nowhere of the still-padlocked People’s Park — while the vibrantly local (and modest) stadium of books thrives, providing inspiration across the whole eccentric spectrum of our needs (even when we don’t know that we have them). Roll on in your permanent Premier League of One forever.

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Attica Locke, author of
Black Water Rising and The Cutting Season

Attica Locke

Happy Birthday to the smartest, chicest, and most daring bookshop in London. The city wouldn’t be the same without you. Here’s to another 35 years!

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Michael Rosen, children’s author, broadcaster
and passionate promoter of reading and books

Michael Rosen

I am trying to imagine the millions of words read, the millions of hours spent by the hundreds of thousands of people who’ve looked at books from Newham Bookshop over the last 35 years. And what about all those minds being delighted, moved, intrigued and excited by what they thought about as a result? Can we imagine that?

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Kate Gunning, Key Account Manager
for Independents, Random House

Vivian and the team at Newham Bookshop are indefatigable, brilliant booksellers and completely plugged into the needs of the local community. They have a fantastic events programme and tremendously strong links with schools in the area. The shop is loved by publishers and authors alike, and Viv has read absolutely everything. I am full of admiration for what they do. Happy 35th birthday, Newham Bookshop, and a very big thank you; long may you prosper.

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Iain Dale, LBC radio presenter, political
blogger, publisher and West Ham fan

Iain Dale

One of the few remaining bookshops with real character. Many congratulations on 35 years of fantastic bookselling.

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Paul Sammut, Key Accounts Sales Executive,
Yale University Press

I have been visiting Newham Bookshop as a rep for over three years now and it has always been a pleasure. I was told of Vivian’s reputation by my colleagues and I wasn’t disappointed. Vivian is ever ready to get behind a book with suggestions for events and utilising her connections, friends and supporters to promote the book. Bookselling at Newham Bookshop never fails to impress me as Vivian greets every customer that walks through the door, always seems to know where the book they’re looking for is, and there’s usually a recommendation to come with it. This isn’t just the lost art of customer service, but a commitment to her community which can also be seen from the events Newham Bookshop participates in, to people doing work experience in the shop.

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Clare Hall-Craggs, Publicity Director,
Random House Children’s Books

Random House Children’s Publishers would like to congratulate Newham Bookshop on the terrific achievement of its 35th anniversary. Viv and John have guided countless teachers and parents to discover new books or backlist gems, and have made the shop into a beacon destination for the local community. They’ve also championed the Tamarind list tirelessly. The shop is superb when it comes to author events in schools, with Viv and John immensely careful to match the right school to each author. The links they have built are so strong that we return several times a term to a school Viv introduced us to years ago.

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Ben Gutcher, Sales Director, John Murray Press

Ben Gutcher

Newham Bookshop is an absolute treasure. Its shelves are packed with wonderful books and you are always sure to find something that will surprise and excite.

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Neil Fraser, author of
Over the Border: The Other East End

Neil Fraser

In the soulless digital climate of today’s publishing world the love of good books, ones you can actually hold, is evident the moment you set foot in this fantastic shop. It is piled floor to ceiling with so many of them you could easily spend all day browsing and barely notice the passage of time. The children’s section alone is almost bewildering in its choice and volume and I can only wonder at the huge number of children in east London who have benefited over the last 35 years. Vivian and her dedicated team have not just made this a great bookshop but also a social hub full of warmth. It’s an absolute gem of a place and I only wish it was a bit nearer to my home. Happy Birthday!

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Mary Byrne, publicist at HarperCollins

It is always a pleasure to work with Vivian. She does fantastic work within the community to engage readers of all ages, is great fun to work with, brings real imagination to her events programme — and just makes the world a better place.

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Jane Lawson, Editorial Director, Doubleday Transworld

Jane Lawson

Vivian Archer is my independent bookshop buddy with Random House and she and I have spent many hours talking and drinking tea in her crowded bookshop aisles, and, yes, it does feel as though the books might fly up and snatch your tea and biscuit, such is the magical atmosphere of her shop. She loves her community and her customers so much, she cares about their needs, where they come from, what their story is. I watched her serving every customer, listening to every request, however small, even if it was not in her immediate interest. Newham Bookshop events are of course legendary and it is personalities like Vivian whom readers and publishers need most.

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Deborah Coles, Director, INQUEST

Deborah Coles

Congratulations on the 35 years of Newham Bookshop… you’re really inspiring… love your energy and creativity!

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Paula Saffer, Learning Resources
Centre Manager, Ilford County High School

Viv Archer is an inspiration! We have had some amazing events at our school courtesy of Viv. She is so proactive in working with publishers to help arrange for authors to visit schools. Promoting reading for pleasure is such an important aspect of my role as a school librarian. What better way than for pupils to meet the storytellers that inspire their imagination and encourage them to read. We take such mutual pleasure in seeing snaking queues of hildren waiting to buy their books and get them signed — something that they will never experience from buying online. Arranging for our pupils to meet the likes of Anthony Horowitz, Robert Muchamore, Eoin Colfer and Simon Mayo (to name but a few) is a wonderful experience and has proven a real success measured by the increase in borrowing from our library. So thank you Viv and all the staff at Newham Bookshop, and here’s to the next 35 years!

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Cathy Cassidy, author of young adult fiction
including The Chocolate Box Girls series

Cathy Cassidy

Newham Bookshop is one of my favourite indie bookshops. It is right at the heart of the lively, warm East End community it serves — reflecting, inspiring, educating, understanding. It is packed with treasures, books that will open doors of opportunity and doors of the imagination, and it is run by the loveliest team of booksellers ever. Like Newham Bookshop? I love it.

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Bill Godber, Managing Director,
Turnaround Publishing Services

Bill Godber

Heartfelt congratulations to Vivian and all at Newham Bookshop as they celebrate 35 years championing all that’s best about independent bookselling. It’s been a great delight working with you for 29 of those 35 years and here at Turnaround we’re sure there will be many, many more. A luta continua!

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Bernardine Evaristo, author of Mr Loverman

Bernardine Evaristo

It’s amazing that Newham Bookshop is celebrating its 35th birthday this year. It’s a fantastic community bookshop run by the wonderful Vivian Archer whose knowledge and love of books stand unrivalled. More than just a community bookshop, it is now an institution where everyone is welcome and all kinds of literature can be found for all kinds of reader. In today’s declining world of independent bookshops, this one should be cherished. Long may it flourish.

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Stefan Dickers, Library and Archives
Manager, Bishopsgate Institute

Stefan Dickers

Stefan was asked by The London Grill, “What’s your secret London tip?” — Well, dealing with London History at Bishopsgate Institute on a daily basis, you won’t be surprised to find it will be a bookshop. I love visiting and highly recommend Newham Bookshop on the Barking Road where you will find any book you could ever want on London history (as well as having a good natter with Vivian and the other staff).

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Sue Amaradivakara, freelance book publicist

Sue Amaradivakara

Viv Archer is one of the most energetic, passionate and principled people working in the book trade — we are very lucky to have her and Newham Bookshop. Viv cares deeply about what she does and is a true champion of the power of words and ideas. We need more like her! Congratulations to everyone at Newham Bookshop — here’s to another 35 years.

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Matt Johnson, singer in The The
and publisher of Tales from the Two Puddings

Matt Johnson

In an age of frantic surfing, pointing and clicking it comes as a relief to find there is still at least one shop where you can slow down time and reflect amongst books, old and new, where the staff are warm and knowledgeable and where mystery still lies hidden between dusty covers, just waiting for you to open the right one up and turn the page. Newham Bookshop is the Shakespeare and Company of east London.

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Ruth Killick, Publicity Director, Profile Books

Ruth Killick

Many, many happy returns, Newham Bookshop — you’ve launched some of my favourite books including Chris Mullin’s diaries, Attica Locke’s Black Water Rising and The Cutting Season and Michael Blastland and Andrew Dilnot’s The Tiger That Isn’t. It’s always a delight to work with such a fantastic group of people — here’s to another 35 years!

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Tony Lacey, Publishing Director, Penguin

Tony Lacey

In recent years popping into Newham Bookshop on matchdays has given me almost as much pleasure as going to the game — and I say that as a fervent Hammers supporter. It’s a great bookshop. I only wish we had anything half as good in the part of London where I live, 27 tube stops away. We should be so lucky!

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Andrew Lane, author of
the Young Sherlock Holmes series

Andrew Lane

I just wanted to say congratulations on reaching 35 years of bookselling. I remember when the shop opened (I was 15 at the time, and living just 10 minutes walk away). I have spent a lot of time and a fair amount of money in Newham Bookshop over the years, and both of them were wise investments.

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Sarah Bennie,
Director of Publicity & Media Relations, Ebury Publishing

Viv, you are a force of nature and such a passionate independent bookseller bringing stories and ideas to everyone. It’s always an absolute pleasure working with you on events. You put so much back into the community; it’s a total inspiration. Congratulations!

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Beverley Thackaberry, Learning Resources
Centre Manager, Langdon School

I have just read the article in the Newham Recorder about the bookshop — it was brilliant. I hope that it brings in more business to this fascinating shop. Both my children loved coming into buy books when they were younger. I think I will have to start bringing my grandsons in when they’re a little older. Congratulations to you and all your staff that make Newham Bookshop such a fascinating and friendly place to buy books.

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John Hegley, poet, storyteller and ukulele maestro

John Hegley

Newham Bookshop is a hideaway of hopefulness and an oasis of unblurring, a place bursting with sustenance for heart and brain; my preferred bookshop on the Barking Road. Happy next 35 years.

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Anthony Cartwright, author
of How I Killed Margaret Thatcher

Anthony Cartwright

Happy 35th Birthday, Newham Bookshop! This shop holds all the kaleidoscopic life and energy of east London that flows past its doors and offers a magic wardrobe door to everywhere else in the world — past, present, future — and a whole constellation of other worlds too. A cultural institution as glorious as the world cup winners who stand with the Jules Rimet trophy held aloft just across Barking Road.

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Simon Prosser, Publisher,
Hamish Hamilton and Penguin Books

Simon Prosser

Congratulations, Vivian and Newham Bookshop, and Happy 35th Birthday! Your work with authors and events is peerless and you are a beacon of hope for us all. Keep up the great work and long may you flourish. Thanks for all you have done in support of real books and real writers, wherever they are from, for over three and a half decades. We all salute you!

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Kevin Redmond, Field Sales Director, Random House

Newham Bookshop is the embodiment of everything that a publisher wants from an independent bookshop. Events can be relied upon to run smoothly and authors are looked after with the utmost care and attention to detail. There have been times when we have asked to set up an event at short notice and even under extreme stress a great event is guaranteed. In addition to this Newham Bookshop works hard to sell lots of books and are a great example of a bookshop which connects with its community.

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Brian Belton, West Ham historian
and lecturer in youth work

Brian Belton

I was born, grew up and was educated (after a fashion) in Newham. When I was a boy, attending Burke Secondary Modern School in Plaistow, there were maybe four of five independent bookshops in the borough. Of course, the one that has sustained is our local treasure in the Barking Road, where E13 nestles up to E6. The place seems to have been there all my life; it certainly has been a seminal space, physically, spiritually and emotionally in my existence. I have always loved books and bookshops; they have, for me, offered understanding, a kind of freedom found in the chance to escape by knowing. That last bookshop continues to offer the same experience to anyone who cares to take the time.

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Francesca Fenn, Partner, Step Outside Guides

Francesca Fenn

For book lovers, walking into Newham Bookshop is like stepping into a magical world of delights, with intriguing and unusual titles popping up everywhere you look, as well as classics and popular books. Step Outside Guides are pretty new to the world of book publishing, and Viv and the team have been helpful and supportive as our books enter and make their place in the great big book world. Congratulations on 35 years of being everything a local bookshop should be — and here’s to the next 35 years!

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Helen Ward, author and illustrator

Helen Ward

Congratulations on your 35th anniversary. Thank you so much for being that vital conduit between the author and illustrator and their audience, and for planting books in the right places to inspire, with such passion and wisdom.

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Rowan Wilson, Sales and Marketing Director, Verso

Vivian and Newham Bookshop are some of the hardest working booksellers in town! Always keen to support good books and interesting authors, and switched on to every new opportunity — and a much needed radical beacon in east London bookselling!

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