Income from sales of second-hand books has climbed from £573,000 in 2017 to more than £1.4million so far this financial year for the National Trust, with sales expected to hit £1.8m.
The National Trust has 185 second-hand bookshops, ranging from book baskets and corners to others filling several rooms and spanning multiple floors, and selling tens of thousands of books every week for as low as 50p.
A two-week sale at the Trust’s Baddesley Clinton near Solihull this year saw more than £10,000 raised, with £8,000 of that achieved in the first week, while discoveries at the Trust’s bookshops have included a copy of The Ascent of Everest found by volunteers at Dyffryn Gardens to include seven autographs from the first climbers to reach the top of Mount Everest including Sir Edmund Hillary. The book later sold at auction for almost £500.
At Quarry Bank Mill in Wilmslow, a shopper found a signed letter from White Christmas star Bing Crosby inside their purchase, while at Trelissick near Truro, volunteers unearthed 50 years’ worth of pristine copies of the Beano as well as a photo album full of images of pre-First World War alpine skiers, depicting women in ankle-length skirts scaling the mountains.
David Jackson, a volunteer at the second-hand book shop at Hardwick Hall said:
“Like many other retail outlets, second-hand book shops are in decline on our high streets, yet they are still very popular with a large section of the public, so this is a great opportunity for the National Trust to provide, and become the leader, in second-hand book shops at visitor attractions.
“There is a big difference between a shop selling a pile of tatty books in the corner for 50p to a proper second-hand book shop. Like other specialist retail outlets, good second-hand book shops have a unique feel, which customers enjoy, and I believe that the National Trust’s shops really add to the visitor experience.”
Property Fundraising Officer Katy Taheri said:
“It’s amazing to see the popularity of our second-hand book shops growing so quickly, not only in terms of the quantity of books being given to us, but also the amount we’re selling.”
“The success of our book shops is down to our brilliant volunteers, who at many properties, have brought great creativity in how to sell books and get our visitors to fall in love with them. And as the stories being told prove, our shops aren’t just about the books, they are also about the fascinating discoveries hidden away in the pages, from historical records and images to famous autographs and letters. They really are a treasure trove of hidden gems.”
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