This month’s Bookshop of the Month is Good Press, a Glasgow-based bookshop and art space specialising in independently produced publications and projects. We spoke to the soon-to-be workers cooperative about Good Press’s vision and place in the Glasgow arts community.
1. What would you say is the vision behind the Good Press? Would you say that this vision has changed or evolved in the past year?
Good Press has always, and will always, be about promoting the making and distribution of independent publishing activity. We run a bookshop in the hope that people come in and see making a publication is a possibility and not beyond reach.
We hope the space is seen more as a way of thinking constructively and actively about how a book shop and art spaces in general can function: completely non-hierarchical (the foundation of which is our open submission policy), not informed by taste or our own preferences, an encouraged blurred line between author/artist and customer and a more responsive, transparent and accountable engagement with the community, both locally and globally.
This hasn’t changed over the past year, but its been difficult as so much of what we stock should be handled and its form understood in person. The most difficult part of this year has been a lack of conversation around books – a huge reason as to why we do this. But hopefully that will be back soon!
2. Do you find that being volunteer run sets you apart from other bookshops? If so, how?
We don’t think for a second it sets us apart in any way, nor would it make us different, I think the volunteer aspect has just enabled us to be realistic and transparent at the same time, and it helps collectively manage fluctuation and gives us a flexibility to change when needed. From the outset it had been necessity to uphold certain beliefs and structures whilst maintaining life outside of Good Press.
We’re soon to become a workers cooperative which we see as a middle ground between collective activity but also fair renumeration for work. At the back of our space is a small print and book making studio, and this has helped us to open up and discuss further thoughts on labour and work.
3. How do you go about choosing the books that line your shelves?
As most titles come to us via the organic means of open-submission, we try to select additional titles which are based around the themes and subjects of the main bounty of stock. It also goes around visitor interest too, so if we see a lot of pamphlets written around the subjects of labour, or design, or sound – we try to support that with a selection of critical theory or texts which can accompany that. Or if a visitor suggests a title – we might try and source that too. We all make and publish books, so we see a lot too, and we can’t help ourselves to indulge our own interest sometimes… we just hope others like it too!
4. If you could pick one book on your shelves that everyone should read, what would it be and why?
We all collectively said the same thing here – we couldn’t possibly pick one to be honest, the range and accessibility is what makes the bookshop so special. Things we’ve loved of late are the pamphlets we’ve had coming through from Ugly Duckling Presse, the Maryanne Amacher Selected Writings is very special too. Free Jazz Communism published by RabRab was a favourite. Anything published by PSS, London Centre for Book Arts, After8, Inventory Press, the list goes on.
5. And finally, do you have any exciting plans for the shop in the coming months that you’d like to share with us?
2021 marks the 10th anniversary of Good Press. We’d love to have a day-long celebration with people coming and going, but that’s not looking likely right now, so I guess we’ll take it as it comes. Our birthday-birthday is not until October and we’re not a group who dwell on Good Press being an entity so it would most likely be a fleeting celebration anyway.
Its been such a long time since people have been coming and going from the space and we very much try to live in the NOW. Our plans are to have people come back and we’ll concentrate on that for the time being. We had the Sunday’s print studio fitted out to make it more functional and we have some nice new storage and browsing solutions for people coming in so lets see how they pan out first.