We’re heading over to Queen’s Park Books for November’s Bookshop of the Month. Established in 2004 by the Fergiani Family, Queen’s Park Books boasts an impressive selection of more than 10,000 hand-curated titles that range from the classic to the contemporary. It is the second store opened by Fergiani Books, the first being West End Lane established in 1994. We spoke to Jess, the store’s manager, to find out more about this lovely bookshop and its history.
1. In 2018, we interviewed your sister shop West End Lane Books in West Hampstead. What was it that inspired a second shop, particularly in Queen’s Park? What do you hope your bookshop brings to the local area here?
I think they were always keen to open more stores. The Fergiani family have a long and interesting history in bookselling, as well as the two that are here in London opened by Ghassan, there are three more in Tripoli and another in Egypt operated by his brothers. They very much see these stores as part of their father’s legacy. Mohammed Fergiani believed strongly in the transformative power of books and credited much of his own success to his introduction to books at a young age. He was encouraged to push for an education so that he would have access to the school library and he believed it changed the course of his life.
Honestly, I think we will open more in the future if we find the right location. We got extremely lucky with Queen’s Park. Not just because the area is beautiful but because we have a community that really appreciates us and champions our store. Also, their collective tastes are really broad and interesting and, as the buyer, I have to say it’s a real treat to be able to choose an excellent range of diverse and contemporary books and know that your patrons will want them.
2. Do you find that being family-owned sets you apart from other bookshops? If so, how?
I think the difference is displayed in our values and especially reflected in how we treat our staff. I’d like to think you can then feel that when you are in the store – that everyone is more invested because they feel we’ve invested in them. This year was horrifying and I was so pleased to work for a family that 100% backed our staff, topped up the furlough money for as long as possible and have done everything possible to make sure everyone had a job to return to.
3. Under normal circumstances, Queen’s Park Books partners with the celebrated Queen’s Park Book Festival which takes place in the summer at the park. Does the shop ordinarily do anything special around this exciting event?
The festival itself is the exciting event! We are kept quite busy running both our store and the pop up shop in the park that sells the speaker’s books. We did make sure the 2nd year we scheduled time for each staff member to get to see an event because the first year everyone was too busy to actually see any of the authors talk!
4. How do you go about choosing the books that line your shelves?
That’s such a tough one. I try to make sure the range is as broad as possible. It’s really important to me to try and make sure I choose books that our community feels interest them and also reflect them and their identities. Especially the children’s books. All little people deserve to see themselves in what they read because it makes the book more meaningful for them. Right now our shelves are heaving because we there have been so many excellent releases, all at once!
5. And finally, do you have any exciting plans for the shop in the coming months that you’d like to share with us?
Well, we have our yearly Christmas sale that will happen in November as soon as we work out how to run it whilst adhering to social distancing rules. And we are also launching a Children’s Subscription which should hopefully be a super exciting present option that will create new passionate readers – https://www.qpbooks.co.uk/childrens-subscription