Radical bookshop is proving there is room on the shelf for everyone

Shelflife Books and Zines is making space on its shelves for under-represented voices and demonstrating there is a place for independent publishing in the city

bookshop with owner and dog
Rosie Smith runs the bookshop with the help of her furry friend Bertie

An independent bookshop has achieved success in its new premises by championing marginalized voices and issues.

Shelflife Books and Zines specialises in stocking independent, self- and micro publishing, with books covering topics such as feminism, anti-racism, anti-capitalism and LGBT+ issues. 

The bookshop started as a pop-up in the city last Christmas but was forced to close at the start of the lockdown in March. Luckily, it was able to take over new premises in August after crowdfunding help from book-loving locals.

The owner, Rosie Smith, said the response has been great, with customers showing overwhelming support and excitement about having a new independent bookshop in the centre of Cardiff. 

Nevertheless, she has faced challenges surviving as a new business during the pandemic.

“It’s been a very anxious time, not knowing whether to open for safety reasons and with a big question mark over our financial security,” said Rosie, “but we’re lucky to have the support of our neighbouring indie businesses.”

The shop is based on Womanby Street in the Castle Emporium, a converted 1920’s cinema that houses a range of independent stores. 

The ‘Pay it Forward’ board allows customers to donate and help make reading accessible for everyone
Radical reading for all

Rosie takes an innovative approach to her bookshop, running as a not-for-profit and relying on social media to keep in touch with her community. 

She aims to make her shop accessible to everyone through a ‘Pay it Forward’ board that allows generous customers to help others buy books they cannot afford. 

Kamila Krol, a local illustrator, thinks these spaces are exactly what the city needs.

“Cardiff has had a zine scene for a long time, but not many platforms to share this kind of work with others,” said Kamila.

“I’m really happy to have my zines in this collection and to know that through Shelflife the work of local artists is supported and can reach a bigger group of like-minded people.”

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Posted by Shelflife Books and Zines on Saturday, 17 October 2020