The Albion Beatnik Bookstore website (or how a bookshop once changed a light bulb)

The web page of the Albion Beatnik Bookstore in Oxford, now closed (as usual) for business: muses and misspills on books, jazz, poetry, stuff like false flags and smoke screen: was randomly decrepit and proven to be more than neo-bankrupt: it was so analogue it was anal and now deceased.

About

AlbionBeatnikThe Albion Beatnik was a small and enthusiastic bookshop in Jericho, Oxford, with an eclectic collection of titles ranging from American pulp to Beatnik poetry: definitely a bookshop with a difference, described by the Sunday Times as the “best bookshop in Oxford,” and although we know what they mean, some referred to it as the best bookshop in the world. It was open until 11.00pm at least four nights a week (sometimes more than that in the Summer months), although early starts were frowned upon (the shop had resumed its 11.00am kick-off, although sometimes the ref blew his wolf whistle a little later).

The relaxed cafe offered fine tea (brewed from tea leaves in a tea pot), coffee and cake. Abfab music was usually on the CD. But if you parked your bike over the steps leading in to the bookshop, you could have expected a stern reprimand and, if you were lucky, a spanking.

The shop hosted many events – particularly poetry and music, themed literary evenings and general talks and debates, over 1,00 in its last 8 years alone. It had a reading group which meets each month.

The shop was participative and encouraged input from its community – help with the hoovering was always appreciated; this did not mean it was a zany or hippy kingdom, although love and world peace, long hair and beards, organic crap and shamanism were sort of encouraged. You might expect 10% discount if you had dreadz (cool) or like Miles Davis and explained why.

It was an ardent anti-wi-fi zone (we think you can have too much of a bad thing). It thought the internet is great, but the written word is better; it abhorred democracy and adored anarchy (in a sort of postmodern, dodecaphonic sort of way); it thought you should buy a book because you want to read it, not because it is cheap, although this doesn’t give publishers or booksellers the license to overcharge (unless they can get away with it). The shop had a no petting, diving or bombing policy (unless with the owner). And if you were genuine and enthusiastic, you were always welcome.

Read the Albion Beatnik’s Pompous Manifesto.

Two examples of customer service: Black Books and the brilliant but now forgotten Marty Feldman.