IPG member Practical Action explains how it came to sell books as well as publish them
At Practical Action, we have a long history of publishing books for practitioners and researchers working to discover ingenious, practical ways to help communities free themselves from poverty and disadvantage.
As climate change becomes ever more widely discussed, general awareness of our work has increased. The need for economic development ‘as if people mattered’—the phrase coined by our charity’s founder and economist Fritz Schumacher in 1973—has never been stronger.
Some progress is being made, as world leaders work towards the goals outlined in the Paris Agreement. David Attenborough’s comments
at the COP24 conference this week were particularly poignant: “Right now we are facing a man-made disaster of global scale, our greatest threat in thousands of years—climate change.”
But it is ever more clear that sustainable change cannot happen without the involvement of people in our local communities—and the passion, talents and hard work of new generations in particular. To make a lasting difference to the global issues that affect us all, knowledge has to be accessible to everyone.
Practical Action’s content has been available online for some time, but the belief that information about global issues and our planet should be available to everyone has now driven us to create the Practical Action Publishing Bookshop. By providing a range of informative and inspiring materials for all ages to enjoy, we’re trying to do our bit to change things.
The chance to bring our dream of running a bookshop came when we relocated our office from the countryside to a town-centre high street in Rugby. We acquired an office with a shop space below it, and next door to the main Practical Action hub—and, after many late nights, we were able to transform it into the Bookshop.
We were overwhelmed by the encouragement we received from other booksellers and publishers. The book trade community embraces many of the same values that the bookshop represents—access to knowledge, diversity, inclusivity and environmental sustainability—and is very generous in supporting one other to promote them. In addition to housing our own books, we have partnered with other publishers to showcase a wealth of books for children, teachers and the general reader. We are aiming to make our content as accessible as possible, and to inspire children around the world.
We hope our Bookshop will be a vibrant addition to Rugby, and fly the flag for independent shops on the high street—as well as for independent publishers. It will be a great way for us to connect with the local community in a celebration of sustainable living, and will act as a hub for learning about how we can create positive futures for the world’s most vulnerable people. The shop also offers a range of ways for people to become ‘changemakers’, including information on how to get involved with our latest projects around the world. We have had lots of visitors already, and hope to continue our links with the community by hosting events as well as selling books.