Two men and one woman standing outside Books on the Rise, a small bookshop, with balloons tied to the storefront

Richmond Upon Thames bookshop celebrates first birthday

An independent bookshop in Richmond celebrated their one-year birthday last weekend with live music.

Books on the Rise, on Hill Rise, is an independent bookshop which focuses on diverse contemporary fiction, drama and non-fiction.

It also hosts a range of events, from author talks to poetry slams.

The Christmas shopping period was a highlight for manager Patrick Jones, 25, as it emphasised the importance of Books on the Rise for him.

He said: “We felt like we had really brought something to the Hill that wasn’t there before.

“It was just a perfect spot for a bookshop.”

Jones stressed that Books on the Rise’s events also make it a community space, which he feels became more important after the Covid-19 pandemic.

He said: “Putting the community space at the heart of what we are as a bookshop and being that for Richmond Hill is what defines you outside of just shopping online.

“Most local people’s book shops extend so much more than just a shop.”

Events in the past year have included the unveiling of Richmond’s Virginia Woolf statue, the co-ordination of national Feminist Book Fortnight and regular author talks and book clubs.

Their birthday party featured live music in one of Books on the Rise’s two events space, performed by musicians supported by charity, the Basement Door.

Emma Nagle, 16, in her first gig since sitting her GCSEs in the summer, played a series of songs she had written herself including ‘Hay fever’ and ‘Where’s Mabel?’ which was about a cow.  

She said: “I enjoy performing and I really love books.”

Emma was followed by the band, The Tones, whose members Fred Ashdown, 16, and Harry Foster, 21, played a set of original songs.

They were told they had extra time at the end of their planned set, leading Fred to tell the crowd: “Sorry dad, I’m going to have to play Oasis.”

There is a clear focus on the curation of books at Books on the Rise as the shop has a small space to display their stock.

Jones said: “We try our best to make sure that every spot has value.”

On the process of curation, he added: “Everyone’s got books that they found through odd ways that you wouldn’t necessarily buy that they love, and we bring that passion to the curation and try our best to put things out that we really stand by.”

Books on the Rise is partnered with independent publisher Aurora Metro and Supernova books, which publishes diverse fiction and non-fiction titles.

Aurora Metro, which existed first before setting up Books on the Rise last year, initiated the fundraising efforts for Richmond’s Virgina Woolf statue, unveiled in November 2022.

Aurora Metro and Books on the Rise’s co-owner and founder Steve Robson said: “We’re not going to be static.

“We are actively pushing the arts envelope.”

This is reflected in the titles Aurora Metro publishes, with books released to mark events such as Black History Month.

The company also organises events to highlight various underrepresented groups, such as an exhibition showcasing women from the area’s art in November.

They also produced award-winning film “Rock n Roll Island: Where legends were born” about the history of Eel Pie Island, which aired on BBC 4 in 2020.

The Booksellers Association supports bookshops nationwide and holds events such as Bookshop Day on 14 October which will see celebrities such as Geri Halliwell and Miriam Margolyes pop up at bookshops across the country.

Managing Director of the Booksellers Association Meryl Halls said: “Bookshops are place makers, as they deliver a huge benefit to their local high street. 

“They often bring books that are specially curated for that community, and they very often create readers of the future by connecting with kids through schools, and through bookshop events.”

The Booksellers Association found that 2022 saw the highest number of independent bookshops in 10 years after many new shops opened post-pandemic.

However, Halls noted: “The risk is that bookshops are taken for granted, not cherished, and then fail – bookshops need loyal, active, engaged customers.”

Books on the Rise can be found at 80 Hill Rise, Richmond Upon Thames, TW10 6UB.

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