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UK’s only gay bookshop hit by huge rent rise

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Reader comments

  1. theotherone 11 Feb 2010, 11:22am

    gay’s the word is a great place.

    we should get to their web site and order now (or the shop if you’re in London.)

  2. Simon Murphy 11 Feb 2010, 11:31am

    I rarely go to bookshops any more. is my current favourite bookshop.

    Bookshops in general seem to be suffering as more people buy books online.

    It is a lovely experience to spend a few hours browsing a bookshop (only trouble is that lately I’ll take a few notes and go home and buy the books cheaper online).

  3. The problem for Camden Council is that this is a shop, rather than a community centre – it would be equally unlikely for them to subsidise the rent of a ladies dress shop.

    However Gay’s The Word do host community events. Perhaps the solution is in convincing Camden that this *is* a community resource. They won’t reduce the commercial rent, but they may be prepared to provide a grant to support work.

  4. Deputy council leader Andrew Marshall said:
    “It’s great that Gay’s The Word is there, but the problem is we deal with everyone evenly. I don’t think it can be right that just because Camden is your landlord you don’t have to pay commercial rents.”

    It seems odd to have a commercial rent increasing by 25% in one go, in a recession. I think they should appeal.

    But I also think:
    – They should punt the council for a grant covering the increase (they have a persuasive case that it won’t cost the council anything, since money goes out from one department and in to another; and the council is likely to be stuck with an empty shop in this economic point if they vacate)
    – In the end, if the rent is too high, they should move… yes, just the same as any other business which will also value the location. Maybe consider somewhere in Manchester’s Gay Village… Manchester has a very welcoming crew!
    – What Simon (2) said is true… bookshops everywhere are suffering because it’s a business model that works so well on-line. Maybe it will be a victim of the times if not of the rents. (But I also think it’s a bad idea to always shop with Amazon. Try Book Depository as well, and some other on-line book shops. Otherwise – in the end – there will be only one, and they will have a monopoly, which won’t be fun for any of us.)

  5. Amazon’s great and I admit to using it regularly. But as you say Simon, there’s no substitute for a few hours browsing in a dusty ol’ second-hand bookshop (or, indeed, a non-dusty bookshop selling brand-new tomes, like Gay’s the Word). I don’t think Amazon and the recession are the only two culprits, though, as conventional wisdom has it. The fact is, reading’s become a minority sport. People used to use tube journeys to read their books – now they wearily and disinterestedly pick up one of the crappy freesheets instead. Or else they say they don’t ‘have time’ to read, then spend their evenings watching reality TV… bread and circuses, eh?

  6. The Halcyon 11 Feb 2010, 12:15pm

    sad news, particularly when we’re supposed to be helping small businesses recovering from the biggest economic downturn since WW2.

    As London has a “critical shortage” of Starbucks, Carphone Warehouses and Tesco Metros, I’m sure if G.T.W. were to close, one of those would move in…

    Camden – hit the residents, not the businesses. For once, they need a break.

  7. Pink News did miss a rather important section of the quote:

    A council spokeswoman stated: “If the owner feels that the proposed increase is too high, they can provide evidence to the council to show this which will be taken into consideration.”

  8. It’s a shame the little shops continue to be elbowed out by extortionate rents, only for the corporates to move in.
    Meantime charity shops sit there getting rent-free space.

    You can judge the affluence of a district simply by counting how many charity shops a town centre has.

  9. Glenn Fairclough 11 Feb 2010, 6:00pm

    Always sad to lose things people use ….. however it is not the only LGBT bookshop in UK… News From Nowhere here in Liverpool has been suffering the same problems with rent… they are still here maybe they have some ideas to help Gay’s The Word.

  10. Curious that the council thinks that any kind of business or individual can take a 25% increase in costs at this particular time.

    Councils should be made more accountable for the kind of environment they create. Leaving it all to market forces doesn’t create a pleasant street or community. Some businesses are well-worth having but don’t produce enormous profits. If the rent is racked up to the maximum that any kind of business will pay then it’s inevitable that we end up with bars and identikit chain stores.

    Maybe the problem is that councils don’t have any way to do that. Or maybe they are just run by incredibly stupid third-rate people, as here in Manchester?

  11. Most bookshops have a gay section, so why is it so important to have an exclusively gay one that’s not, in any case, accessible to most of the population?

  12. Martin: for the same reason it’s good to have specialists in anything. Why have shops that only sell bakery products, or only fruit and veg or only vegetarian items, when you can get a selection of those things at a giant ASDA? The answer is that when a shop specialises in something it has a better selection and the staff tend to have a better knowledge of the products.

    I buy a tin of paint in Manchester city centre anymore. Nowhere sells it. When I moved back here in 1997 there were several places including Lewis’s department store and a couple of small shops. They have all gone. Yet during the same period the number of people living in the city centre has increased from less than 1,000 to nearly 20,000.

    Those specialist businesses (especially the small ones) were driven out by a combination of the aftermath of the IRA bomb and the city council with its blinkered corporate attitude.

  13. Yet another dumbo council.
    Have they not heard that half of High Street is boarded up..?

    We have the same here; Eccles in Greater Manchester is just such another; one huge ‘board’ compounded by all the closed up pubs.

  14. Simon Murphy and EVERYBODY, please know that Amazon is KILLING all the small independent bookshops, such as “Gays the Word”. Amazon is a bloody avaricious monster!

    Please know the following:

    Amazon takes for itself 65% of the recommended retail price of any book it sells.

    In addition Amazon requires publishers to cover all the costs of the delivery of books to Amazon’s warehouse.

    This is having a very damaging effect on the range of books now being published. Since publishers CAN ONLY MAKE a maximum of about 30% of the RRP of a book, they clearly have to focus on books which are likely to sell in vast quantities. In other words, there is no money for them in books for groups of minority readers. And remember the publisher, getting just 30% of the RRP of a book, doesn’t just pocket that 30% as profit! That 30% has to cover all the costs of publishing, printing, staff, distribution, advertising, and so forth. Thus publishers not wanting to work with books that are popular with the masses, and certainly not the sort of books now on sale in supermarkets, are finding it tough to keep going.

    At the same time Amazon offers many of its books below the Recommended Retail Price. So buyers avoid the small independent bookshops, like “Gays the Word”, in order to save a few pounds by buying through Amazon.

    Here’s what to do. Use Amazon to FIND good books to read, then PICK UP THE BLOODY PHONE and call “Gay’s the Word” (or your local small independent bookshop), give them the details of the book and ask them to get it for you. Yes, it will cost more than at Amazon, but you’ll save those bookshops you like to browse in from closing and you may help publishers to consider publishing interesting specialist books that the hordes won’t necessarily be interested in.

    If anybody doubts any of the above information, then do some serious homework on the net . . . and you’ll find every fact above is absolutely true.

    You’ll even find that at Amazon’s vast warehouse in Bedfordshire the kids running up and down the aisles, collecting books and CDs and everything else that people are ordering, are being paid little more than McDonald’s employees and are being treated like cr*p.

    Amazon is a monster.


    Google “Gays the Word”, get their telephone number, and stick on your computer monitor and buy ALL YOUR BOOKS, not just gay books, from them!

  15. This is the BEST shop EVER. as it says in the article this shop is right there in the community. When my son told us he was gay 18 months ago i didn’t really know where to turn for information, the guys at Gays the Word were brilliant. I was not only reccomended decent reading matter but i spoke at length with Jim about gay matters!!! It would be a very sad day if it has to close.

  16. yes, Lizzie, this bookshop is absolutely brilliant. if we lose it, gays and lesbians will lose a massive part of their identity. not all are interested in books, unfortunately, but those who fight for gay rights and so forth and who use their heads DO!

  17. Yes, order all books from now through Gays the Word. Let them take the 65% that Eddy’s talking about rather than the evil Amazon!

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