La Biblioteka is growing! This Spring we will be moving across the city of Sheffield into a hugely exciting new development in the Castlegate area - Kommune, a new social space in the historic Castle House, from Tamper and the Kollider group.
More than just additional floor and shelf space, we're determined to create and programme a bold and exciting proposition that reminds everyone how exciting reading can be and show that there's still life in physical spaces that can inspire and delight.
We'd outgrown our previous premises on Pinstone Street, opposite the Peace Gardens, but understand that loads of locals and visitors to our city found their way to our bookshelves, making it a buzzy little gem - even though that wonderful busyness could make it hard to run. This new space will offer us the opportunity to move our zero-waste offer, biblio.zero, our riso printing studio and small publishing press, Choriso Studio as well, and space to curate talks, exhibitions, events, workshops, pop-ups, fairs... there are so many possibilities with this new space!
And we would love you to help and support this next chapter through this crowdfunder! we've got a fairly unique idea about what a contemporary magazine and bookshop should look and feel like. Together with the best local and international makers, editors, publishers and suppliers, we're ready to make this happen!
A bookish space for everyone
A bigger La Biblioteka will also mean:
- an in-house event space meaning we can host authors, editors and other speakers, without fear of the over-crowding we had before!
- vastly improved access and comfort for people with mobility issues
- more opportunities to collaborate with our friends and newcomers to the indie business scene across the city
- a space that welcomes everyone, whether book buffs, mag fans, or the print-agnostics, a place that enhances the city imaginatively and attracts visitors and locals alike.
Our story so far
La Biblioteka is a contemporary magazine and bookshop, a project started in 2015 by, now husband and wife, Alex and Julie.
Conceived as a way to both improve the Sheffield streetscape, and introduce a new culture-led experiential retail offer, seen elsewhere, to the city.
After beginning to trade as nomadic purveyors - think fairs, markets and pop-ups - we’ve built a loyal and growing customer base from our previous city centre location on Pinstone Street, the whole design of which was to help you discover new books and magazines, new ideas and encourage interdisciplinary thinking.
We've had our short recognised by design and retail awards, and have been featured in articles in The Independent and The Guardian, but, honestly, the remarkable praise from customers and visitors and genuine feedback we receive is the most appreciated recognition and what keeps us going on the tough days - we often get told we wouldn't look out of place in this or that place or city, but we feel that proud northern towns shouldn't dismiss ambition and quality, but foster and encourage it.
We think we're part of a larger movement across the city, of locals doing a great little thing, and thus becoming part of a encouraging movement towards a better place for everyone to live - our little bookshop feeds and feeds off of this.
And so when the opportunity to be part of Kommune presented itself, along with the wider Kollider project, we jumped at it. This is a very exciting next step in our development, positioning us amongst some of Sheffield’s best loved traders, creating a new nexus for independent culture and entertainment. We can't wait to see what the possibilities will be with such energy under one roof.
From the Kollider team:
'Kommune brings Sheffield’s landmark Castle House back into use as a vibrant, communal place, forming part of the Kollider project, which is aimed at transforming this significant building and historic area of our city centre.
Open early, till late, this new meeting place is home to a diverse choice of great tasting food, an artisanal bakery and speciality coffee, independent retail and an iconic bar, serving everything from local brews to organic wines and an eclectic mix of cocktails.'
The cost of this move and expansion can and will in part be funded from the business’ cash-flow, existing resources and from our own further investment. La Biblioteka has been soundly and profitably run with an increasing turnover currently growing at about 50% year on year (thank you!) and we do have a robust business plan going forward.
However, this is an urgent, necessary and large-scale project (our shop floor space will expand by 80%) which represents the perfect opportunity for La Biblioteka to offer much more to our community and our visitors, just as Britain’s high streets are coming under threat.
That’s why, to do this properly and quickly, we’re turning to our many loyal customers and supporters in Sheffield and beyond. Raising funds through crowdfunding will provide the capital needed to bring our new space and studio to life. Your money will be spent directly on creating these amazing spaces with the help of local traders, craftspeople and artists.
This crowdfunding campaign hopes to reward the people that support us through our next steps. Rewards include print selection boxes, generous gift cards (also redeemable online), subscriptions (expect more of these over time) and - for the first time ever! - membership offers. We don't expect to fund the whole venture through this crowdfunding, but we hope to reduce expensive bank borrowing costs.
Every one of our backers will receive a handwritten thank you, written on a special edition mini print, designed and printed by our risograph sister studio, Choriso Studio, and will be thanked on our website.
We also hope to fill our space with Bibliophiles from launch day - all backers will receive an invite to opening night, and higher backers will be invited to the VIP launch. In return, you get to be part of a growing community of print aficionados, keen to share ideas and encourage discovery, amongst our 300+ magazine titles and growing book list.
Risks and challenges
The project is fully costed. We have secured a premises, with an initial three year lease. We have a good relationship with the landlord, developer and project manager.
To keep costs entirely controlled and managed we have designed and manufactured the shop fittings and shelving units ourselves. This means that we can make the units freestanding and movable to other locations should the need arise - we hope it doesn't.
We have established accounts with some key independent suppliers and have many contacts directly with magazine and print makers locally and around the world.
Having done this for a few years, we know most of the mistakes you can make - we've probably made all of them! We've got some great ideas of how to push this forward and establish a sustainable business that is loved by many across the city.