My name is Jennie Courage. As a Project Manager in the Education team, I ensure multicomponent projects deliver on time, meet quality standards and fall within budget.

I live in the Victorian spa town of Malvern, at the foot of the Malvern Hills – a nine-mile designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty dividing the beautiful English countryside of Herefordshire and Worcestershire. When I am not walking on the Malvern Hills, you will often find me in my favourite community owned book shop: Malvern Book Cooperative. Brilliant for the resident Malvern reading public and for its sizable number of visitors, book lovers in Malvern have good reason to be grateful to Malvern Book Cooperative which has kept the town well supplied with literary delights since 2012.

Located in a distinctive, Victorian building just off one of Malvern’s main thoroughfares, the bookshop has become something of a cultural centre for the town too, hosting a variety of literary events and two book clubs. You will often find me enjoying a cup of tea and a slice of homemade cake with a new book in the shop’s café. Books and cakes – what’s not to like?

Who better to tell us more about Malvern Book Cooperative than one of its founding members, Mary Herbert?

  • Describe what makes Malvern Book Cooperative special.

Malvern Book Cooperative is a warm and friendly bookshop. We stock a wide range of books from many different genres. Our staff can help advise on book selection. We offer a speedy book ordering service if we have not got the titles our customers want.

  • Why did you decide to be a cooperative?

When the town’s bookshop closed, a group of us decided that a town like Malvern could not be without a bookshop. We decided to ask the local community for help and the cooperative was born. Initially approximately 120 people bought shares and that allowed us to fit out the shop and buy stock. We like the community involvement as each member has one vote and a say in how the shop is run.

  • How has the Malvern Book Cooperative adapted during lockdown?

Lockdown has been challenging but our customers are very loyal. We have adapted by offering a click and collect service via email or phone. We have been able to offer home delivery via our suppliers. Finally, our shop front on Bookshop.org has been invaluable.

Thank you to Mary for answering our questions.