Timberbooks 2020 (from October)
"What's going on?"
In October 2020, we:
Launched our POP-UP BOOKSHOP at Overton, selling new books, jigsaws and book-related items. (Open Wed & Sat, 10am-1pm, until at least year-end)
Managed to free up the OVERTON BELL to swing properly for the first time in years (huge thanks to Peter Wright!)
Have been accepted for Membership of the BOOKSELLERS ASSOCIATION
Published the '2021 WEST KILBRIDE & THEREABOUTS CALENDAR'
Coming up in November and December, we'll:
Ring the church bell for REMEMBRANCE SUNDAY (8 Nov) and REMEMBRANCE DAY (11 Nov)
Host a CREATIVE POP-UP for local crafters & photographer from 28 November to 6 December (please see 'Events' page for details)
Open our own twice-weekly POP-UP BOOKSHOP (with extended days and hours from 28 Nov to 6 Dec)
Launch our opening range of HAND-CRAFTED NOTEBOOKS, made using traditional book-binding techniques
Ring the OVERTON BELL for the Worldwide Christmas Eve Jingle 2020 at 6pm on 24 December
... and so much more still to be announced ...
Timberbooks 2020 (Jan to Sept)
"When the going gets tough, the tough get going"
The start of a new decade, and a new plan that kept us in business and working right up until the start of the national coronavirus lockdown.
In late March 2020, we were informed by those in power that we were a non-essential business. Since when did supporting literacy become non-essential?!
We decided to fight this ridiculous assertion in any way that we could.
In April 2020, when libraries and charity shops all closed, we opened the front porch of Overton to give away second-hand books. We also started doorstep deliveries to those shielding. By the end of August - with additional help from the local council, volunteer drivers and local charities - we'd given away 4,000 books.
The porch still opens every day from 10am to 4pm, and we continue to make doorstep deliveries of free books ...
Having closed Overton to the public in August 2017, we set about changing our business model to one selling books only online and off-site:
We built a new website
We had been working with Tidelines Book Festival as their official book supplier since 2015, and with their support we expanded our presence at this annual event
We had also been working with North Ayrshire Council's schools and libraries on several annual events and, again, we worked together to increase these opportunities
We also approached Irvine Burns Club and with their support organised book-selling events at their Irvine base and for their annual Burns Supper
We began to learn the skills of bookbinding from a world-class designer bookbinder based in Irvine, collaborating on a bespoke range of notebooks...
... but none of this replaced the income that Overton could generate as a venue, nor raise enough to cover the vast overheads of the property. Then began the year 2020.
In November 2013, in order to grow our business, remain in the village and save a listed building, we purchased Overton, a Victorian former church and church hall, which we began to renovate and develop.
We hosted concerts and art exhibitions each year from 2013, and in July 2016 we finally opened Ayrshire Tea House, selling hot & cold drinks, home-baking and quality local produce.
Then, in August 2017, due to an annual increase of £5,500 in business rates, Overton closed to the public as a viable high-street business. There was no way that this level of additional profit could be generated in such a small village!
The words we have for the national and local politicians and bureaucrats involved in the business rates' system are colourful but unprintable - especially as Timberbooks was the last remaining independent high-street bookshop in the entire county. All we will write here is this: So much for a government whose policies claim to support our high streets, our small businesses, our heritage and to value and champion literacy - just so many empty words!
Since Overton is privately owned we have been unable to access any charitable or public funding, so with no other choice we have tried everything we can to continue our business in a different way. We have been truly humbled in this endeavour by those in our community who have sought to help us since 2017, both financially and with their skills and hard work.
If you would like to join them in making a donation to help us in our efforts to keep Overton wind- and water-tight and accessible to the public you can do this via the link below, or contact us directly (also via a link below). We are truly grateful for all assistance received since the business rates fiasco totally derailed our progress.
Timberbooks began selling quality second-hand, antiquarian & new books in North Ayrshire in 2007, both via a physical shop in Seamill and online.
We started by selling children's collectable books online (mostly Ladybird Books and children's annuals), but quickly realised once we opened a physical shop that we needed to widen our offering.
It also became obvious that local publishers and local authors had very few outlets for their work, and so we added new books to our stock.
After three years trading from this first shop in Seamill, we moved in 2010 to the main high street just up the hill in West Kilbride. Our sales and stock grew rapidly, and sadly the shop became just too small, so in late 2013 we moved. It was not to be an insignificant move!