In England, Southampton Community Rallies To Help Bookstore Move Locations October Books in Southampton, England, threatened by rising rents, managed to buy its own property. When it came time to move, more than 200 supporters created a human chain to move the books.
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In England, Southampton Community Rallies To Help Bookstore Move Locations

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In England, Southampton Community Rallies To Help Bookstore Move Locations

In England, Southampton Community Rallies To Help Bookstore Move Locations

In England, Southampton Community Rallies To Help Bookstore Move Locations

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/662253579/662253580" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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October Books in Southampton, England, threatened by rising rents, managed to buy its own property. When it came time to move, more than 200 supporters created a human chain to move the books.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

I'm Ailsa Chang with a story of working for the collective good in the southern English port city of Southampton. A bookstore that had been a community fixture for more than four decades was facing an existential problem.

AMY BROWN: Rising rents is something that we were struggling to pay every month because you're not being sure if it was going to rise and rise. So, yeah, I made the decision to try and purchase a property to give us a bit more security.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Amy Brown is a volunteer worker at October Books, which was founded in 1977 as a radical collective. She's one of five part-time staffers.

BROWN: We call ourselves a radical bookshop because we kind of have some fiction stuff, but we also have quite a lot of political books and a lot of current affairs books alongside all of the general kind of children's books as well. We also have a lot of fair-trade produce. So we've got some food, some ecologically sound and ethical cleaning products - so more than a bookshop, we like to say.

CHANG: To afford its own space, the collective asked for donations and loans. They got what they needed and more. After securing enough funds to buy an old bank building, they asked for a few supporters to help them move the books to the new location.

BROWN: We were hoping to get sort of maybe a hundred people. But on the day, we had over 200 people turn out, which was a sight to behold. (Laughter).

SHAPIRO: Reader by reader, they formed a human chain and, book by book, transferred the books to the new location.

BROWN: It's not the issue just of distances. It's about 150 meters of road, but also within - within the shop floor, up the stairs, into the stock rooms. So we had a fair amount of people sort of all within both - both of the shops.

CHANG: People waiting at bus stops came to help and passers-by also joined this literary chain. The whole process collectively took about an hour.

BROWN: It was really sort of surprising and positive and just a really moving experience to see people chipping in because they wanted to help and they wanted to be part of something bigger. It's something you don't see that often. People talk about things like that, but actually seeing everybody turn out was - was something quite different.

SHAPIRO: The grand opening of October Books's new location is this Saturday.

(SOUNDBITE OF SHARON JONES & THE DAP-KINGS SONG, "BE EASY")

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