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Cambridge landmark celebrates 20 years in business
A bookshop which has become a Cambridge institution in just two decades celebrates its 20th birthday on 30 April.
The Cambridge University Press Bookshop has become a familiar city centre landmark to Cambridge shoppers since it opened in 1992. The shop also has at least two claims to being unique in bookselling history: it is the only bookshop in the world dedicated to selling all of the Cambridge University Press’s titles and, located at 1 Trinity Street, it stands on the oldest bookselling site in Britain. Books have been sold continuously there since at least 1581, perhaps even as early as 1505.
Since the Press’s then-Chief Executive, Jeremy Mynott, bought the first book in 1992 (appropriately, he chose Michael Black's Short History of Cambridge University Press) the shop has rapidly become a local business success story. In the first full year of trading (1992/93) it took a modest £389,000. The most recent full year (2010/11) revealed that this had soared four-fold to £1,366,000 – an average annual rise of 8% and far outstripping the national inflation rate.
The best-ever month for sales was January 2011, when £192,000 of books crossed the counter. In its 20 years, the shop has clocked up some other memorable statistics:
Bestselling title: Murphy's English Grammar in Use shortly to go into its fourth edition and the world’s bestselling grammar title. The bookshop has sold 12,909 copies.
Biggest ever sales: Two customers have spent around £8,000 each on titles from the shop in one go – one in 2002 and one last year. In both cases, the customer spent hours selecting the books from stock before taking their hefty haul away in a car.
Thousands of Cambridge histories sold: 10,160 copies of Kevin Taylor's Central Cambridge have been sold and 6,723 copies of Stephanie Boyd's The Story of Cambridge. Harman and Mitton's Cambridge Scientific Minds has sold 2,676 copies. The shop stocks a wide range of local interest titles.
Cotton bags: The colourful Cambridge University Press Bookshop bags introduced in 2007 have proved very popular with 32,132 bags being sold.
Bookmarks: The distinctive bookmarks have been sold since 1998, and since then 35,030 have been bought.
In recent years, the bookshop has diversified by taking over the adjoining premises at 28 Market Hill to set up The Learning Centre, which offers all Cambridge’s English Language Teaching titles and educational resources. Teachers and students can be seen searching for online and e-products via computer terminals and using an interactive whiteboard to try out new cutting edge educational technology. The shop has also made itself available for hire for evening private functions.
Over recent Christmases the bookshop has become the focus of attention for window shoppers with its intriguing displays of paper sculpture made from Cambridge books by Senior Bookseller Justin Rowe. The delicate sculptures are auctioned off at the end of the Christmas season and have raised over a thousand pounds for charities supported by the publisher, including Cambridge charity, Romsey Mill.
Bookshop Manager Cathy Ashbee said: “Since we opened our doors in 1992, huge and unprecedented change has swept the publishing industry with the advent of digital printing, e-publishing, CD-ROMs and print-on-demand. This means our initial remit of stocking every single Cambridge publication has become increasingly challenging, but we still stock the largest range to be found under one roof, and we can order any Cambridge title.
“It has been a fascinating time to be selling books and we have hugely enjoyed serving our appreciative and knowledgeable customers from all over the world. Watching the business grow and prosper has been very satisfying but the best aspect of the job is uniting the individual customer with the right book – that’s something we will never grow tired of.”
To mark its 20th anniversary, the bookshop is offering customers a 20 per cent discount on all titles on Monday, 30 April 2012.
Notes to Editors:
About Cambridge University Press
Cambridge University Press is the publishing business of the University of Cambridge. Dedicated to excellence, its purpose is to further the University's objective of advancing knowledge, education, learning, and research.
Its extensive peer-reviewed publishing lists comprise 45,000 titles covering academic research, professional development, over 300 research journals, school-level education, English language teaching and bible publishing.
Playing a leading role in today’s international market place, Cambridge University Press has over 50 offices around the globe, and it distributes its products to nearly every country in the world.