Age UK Wolverton Books
“This place, selling books cheaply and selling knowledge cheaply, helps people.”
We have just about every kind of book at the Age UK bookshop. Children’s books; fiction; lots of detective and thriller novels; autobiographies; poetry; plays. We have art books; books on gardening, cooking; history… And we have some collectables, audio books, DVDs and vinyl records too.
Almost everybody has their favourite kind of book that they go to. We’ve got people coming back wanting romantic fiction or wanting modern novels, or whatever. People come in and really want books on fishing or books on wildlife.
Sometimes you’ll get someone coming in and saying ‘I’ll have that entire set for my dad’s Christmas present’. We’ve had a couple of early edition Harry Potters in, and people are delighted to find them. And now and again, you find books that remind you of when your children were small, and your copy got so tatty you threw it away. Books are very evocative.
It’s always very positive here. People come in and they are already happy, and if they leave with a book – and most of them do – they are even happier. I mean, this is the nicest job in the world. This is a joy.
And the people who come to us… It’s very, very varied. Lots of young mums and dads with children, and they spend ages in the children’s area and there’s a nice big comfy chair there to sit down. And just people of every colour, every religion and every age group come in here; it’s a really good mixing place!
I do think that literature holds people together. They’re the stories we tell ourselves that make sense of where we live, where we come from. And how can you be unhappy when you’re surrounded by books and lovely people, and people who are interested in books?
The volunteers who work here are just delightful. Some came as customers and liked the place so much that they said, well I’ve got a few hours a week, can I come and spend it here? So that’s always quite positive, when they’ve tried it and they’ve liked it so much that they want to be a bigger part of it.
Everything in the shop effectively comes from people donating. And it does work on a revolving thing here; people will read books and then bring them back to us, and then buy another load! And the money the bookshop makes goes directly to Age UK. It’s for things like subsidising all the day activities that Age UK run; it subsidises the nail cutting service, the gardening service… that kind of thing. And just allows the work to go on, supporting elderly people in Milton Keynes.
This place, selling books cheaply and selling knowledge cheaply, helps people. Here, you can talk to people on the shop floor, you know; customers will ask you for a recommendation, and you can help them with it. And I’ll get a 17 year old who’ll talk to me about German literature… you never know what people are interested in, and when you do, it can be wonderful; you can help. I like that.