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Vinyl install and interview with Village Bookstore

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Earlier in the year, we went along to Village Bookstore and installed some awesome vinyl. Ben from the store kindly spoke to us about all things literature, local business and Leeds…

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Tell us about Village, what is your mission and how did you start?

Village is an independent book shop & gallery, we offer a curated selection of contemporary art, design and photography books and magazines, as well as self-published and small press zines from artists around the world. Our mission is to celebrate the medium of print while promoting the work of talented emerging artists. We started because we wanted to develop a space in the centre of Leeds where these great printed publications that are typically only available online could be made accessible to everyone. We started out selling zines at festivals and book fairs and from their opened our first store in The Corn Exchange. We recently relocated to a new store in the Thornton’s Arcade. It’s still a work in progress but we’re getting there.

What type of products do you sell, and what are the most popular?

We sell photo books, independently published magazines, self-published and small press zines, design and lifestyle books as well as artist-made objects. A lot of what we sell is limited edition so the most popular item tends to change all the time. Everyone has their favourite magazines titles that they come in regularly for and hopefully while they’re here something else grabs their attention.

Which publications would you recommend to the design community?

We have loads of design publications such as Process Journal, Disegno, Graphic, Gestalten and Sendpoints titles. But basically everything in the shop is well designed. We usually recommend that people look for something that interests them and also provides a source of design inspiration, rather than a “how-to-design” book.

We really enjoyed installing some new vinyl lettering for you… how important is the shop’s aesthetic to you?

The shop’s aesthetic is extremely important to us. We recently had a big rebrand by Bruce Usher, who designed our original walking book logo. He’s done an amazing job. The branding combines clean modern typesetting with hand-drawn line art to communicate the diversity of the publications we offer. The two elements come together really well to convey how we’ve grown as a store in the 4 years since we started while retaining a fun personality.

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Check out the awesome shop vinyl installation:

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You’ve recently moved premises, across the city – have you had any changes and are you providing any new services etc?

The main difference between this new store and our old one is that we have a lot more control over what we do with the space and can host many more events and exhibitions whenever we like. Obviously we get a lot more footfall in this new space, which is great. We sell coffee as well, which has become a bigger part of what we offer. We’re currently working on getting our second floor open, which will be a gallery and event space, as well as somewhere for people to hang out, drink coffee and read a few books. We’re really excited to host our first major exhibition in the new space.

Can you recommend us three books/zines that we must read?

It’s difficult because there’s such a diverse range of titles that different people are going to be drawn to completely different things. Personally I’d recommend ‘Skid Row’ by Désirée van Hoek, it’s a beautifully vibrant portrait of homeless communities living on Skid Row in Los Angeles. Magazine-wise I’m a big fan of the latest issue of Perdiz, It’s brilliantly designed and has great content. Zine-wise we have loads of zines by talented Leeds-based artists that are worth checking out while you can.

How do you feel the independent business community is thriving within Leeds?

The Leeds independent community is thriving at the moment because it is a community. Everybody knows everyone and supports each others businesses. There’s a sense that people are happy to help each other out simply because they like the idea an want to see it come to life. Village couldn’t exist without that sense of community. Friends like Andy Keir (Curiosity Allotment) who fitted out both our stores and Dave at Laynes, who taught us how to make coffee, are the reason we’re here.

Tell us about your favourite indie businesses in Leeds?

There’s loads of really great new independent businesses in the city. Our friends at Tall Boys have brought something pretty unique to the city, and The Brunswick is one of our favourite places to go for a drink. We’re excited to be part of Thornton’s Arcade along with so many other great independents: Welcome, The Chimp Store and OK Comics to name a few. It really has become on the best places for independent in the city. Not forgetting the fixtures of the independent scene like Laynes, Jumbo Records, Hyde Park Picture House and The Brudenell Social Club – all of which play a big part in giving the city it’s personality.

If someone is thinking about setting up their own small indie business – could you give them your top words of advice?

Our motto is go for it and figure out if its possible later. I think if we spent too much time thinking about whether or not setting up Village was a good idea, we might not be here.

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What are the plans for Village over the coming year?

We’ll be opening our second floor gallery space very soon, which should be pretty exciting. The space is looking really great and we can’t wait for people to see it. We’ll be announcing our exhibition programme soon, which will feature some amazing work.

Anything else you’d like to promote or mention?

We’ve recently published two books ourselves which we’re very proud of. Gold Dust is a portrait of contemporary Ghana by a London-based photography collective called Tripod City, and Holy Water by Yorkshire-based photographer Christopher Nunn documents life in Ukraine. Both were printed here in Yorkshire by Pressision. The work in both books is amazing, we enjoyed working with such talented photographers and designers and we’re really happy with how the finished products have turned out.

Read more about Village via their website. They also have great Instagram & Twitter accounts.

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