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Rossiter Books | Bookshop of the Quarter: Spring 2024 | banner

Spring Bookshop of the Quarter 2024 | Rossiter Books

Andy and Victoria Rossiter opened their first bookshop in Ross-on-Wye in 2010 and since then four more branches have opened in Monmouth, Leominster, Cheltenham and Malvern.

We were delighted to see that their Malvern shop has just been nominated as Regional Independent Bookshop of the Year! This quarter, we are joined by Andy to tell us about his bookselling experience, the inspiration behind his vibrant chain of independent bookshops and, of course, what his favourite Slightly Foxed title is.

Laurie Lee has strong Gloucestershire connections so Cider with Rosie and As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning are the two that we get asked for more than any others . . .

Rossiter Books

Please tell us about your bookshop. What makes it special?

We opened our first bookshop in Ross-on-Wye in March 2010 and a second in Monmouth in September 2011. I had worked for Waterstones and Ottakars for the best part of twenty-two years running various stores for them, so I had had a fantastic grounding in how to run a bookshop. We were living between Ross-on-Wye and Monmouth and neither place had the kind of vibrant independent bookshop we knew we could create, so we took the plunge. We have a great range of books tailored to our local communities, a really lively author events programme and, of course, some cracking booksellers. We now have five shops in Ross-on-Wye, Monmouth, Leominster, Montpellier in Cheltenham and Malvern, the last of which we opened in 2023.

What first inspired you to become a bookseller?

I fell into it by accident. I saw an advertisement asking for a couple of weeks of work to help Waterstones move from a small shop in Milsom Street in Bath to their current three-floor site. I joined for two weeks and loved the environment. It was an incredible place to work at that time as each shop was able to manage itself without too much interference from above. Each bookseller was given sections to run in pretty much anyway they saw fit. There were only around 30 shops in the group and we had the mail order department based there too, so there were 120 mainly very young staff in one building.

Who has been your favourite customer/what is your favourite bookshop anecdote?

I worked for two years as Deputy Manager in Waterstones Hampstead from 1995 to 1997 and we used to have an impressive number of well-known visitors. I was serving on the front till one Saturday when I noticed someone had left a wallet on the desk. I picked it up and a few seconds later had it taken out of my hands by a glowering Peter O’Toole who had disappeared to look for another book to buy.

Another slightly surreal moment happened when I was the Acting Manager of Waterstones in Cambridge in 1994‒5. Salman Rushdie was due to appear at Waterstones in Hampstead and in Cambridge, his first public appearances since the fatwa that had followed publication of The Satanic Verses. I received a call from the Metropolitan Police’s Special Branch. The resulting security arrangements included identifying three different exits from the building, selling tickets to customers with a camera hidden in a children’s play block that videoed each transaction, blocking out windows with newspaper and installing airport scanners on the day of the event.

What is your favourite Slightly Foxed publication and why?

My favourites are the ones most local to our shops. Laurie Lee has strong Gloucestershire connections so Cider with Rosie and As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning are the two that we get asked for more than any others. We love the Slightly Foxed Editions, so we keep a good range in all our shops.

Rossiter Books | Bookshop of the Quarter: Spring 2024 | banner

Bookshop of the Quarter: Spring 2024

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