Dulwich Books & The Marsh Agency

The Marsh Agency’s Susie Nicklin acquires Dulwich Bookshop

Tuesday 1st September, 2015: Susie Nicklin, executive chair and co-founder of The Marsh Agency, has acquired leading South East London bookshop Dulwich Books in a deal announced today, after seeing an article in The Bookseller last March in which former owner Sheila O’Reilly called for a business partner.

One of the UK’s most renowned independent bookshops, Dulwich Books was named Best Independent Bookshop UK & Ireland 2014 at The Bookseller Industry Awards and Best London Bookshop 2012, 2013 and 2014.

Former owner, Sheila O’Reilly, has transformed the shop in her thirteen years proprietorship, developing a devoted fan base of customers, an expert team of booksellers, and a formidable reputation for curating strong literary events featuring some of the industry’s biggest authors.

O’Reilly will stay on with Dulwich Books alongside shop manager Chloe Mavrommatis and booksellers Philip Maltman and Annie Horwood. O’Reilly’s focus will remain on continuing the shop’s growth, building publisher relations and developing the shop’s event strands to become the leading programmer for literary events in South London.

Part of this includes the curation of a new literary festival hosted at Dulwich College in October, featuring Melvyn Bragg, Kate Mosse, Huw Edwards and Vince Cable. Meanwhile, the shop’s opening hours will extend, while the popular strand of book clubs will grow to include translated fiction and crime.

Reflecting a trend of entrepreneurialism in the industry, the acquisition marks a new era for Nicklin too, who has also announced the launch of a new literary festival – A Way of Being in the World – that will spotlight our relationship with the built and natural environment and feature a host of the Marsh Agency’s prize-winning writers, including Robert Macfarlane, Helen Macdonald, Paul Kingsnorth, Jay Griffiths, and Fred Pearce. Nicklin brings extensive experience of cultural curation to her new role, both in the UK and overseas, gained during her tenure as Literature Director at the British Council where she brokered global partnerships with Edinburgh International Book Festival, Hay Festival and The London Book Fair.

Susie Nicklin said: “Dulwich Books has been my preferred bookseller for many years, and I am a huge admirer of how Sheila has transformed the shop with her passion, knowledge, acumen and drive. The events are always sold out thanks to a loyal and well-informed customer base that it is a pleasure to serve.

“I have always been fascinated by the days of the first John Murray, when Fleet Street was teeming with entrepreneurs engaged in every aspect of literary activity from bookselling to printing, publishing and distribution.  We are entering a similar era now, as people with extensive experience of the book industry create companies that undertake multiple functions, from agenting, bookselling and e, p and magazine publishing, to events and festivals, classes, prizes, and lively salons.

“It’s exciting to be part of this neo-literary entrepreneurialism in which retail plays such a crucial role in the cross fertilization of expertise. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to work again in partnership with the authors and organisations industry-wide in developing and progressing platforms and outlets that enrich the experience of book lovers everywhere. And I am especially heartened by the 2015 half-year TCM reports of a resurgent hardback fiction sector – just what we are all hoping for and working towards.”

Sheila O’Reilly said: “This is the perfect development for Dulwich Books. Since winning the Best Bookshop of UK & Ireland 2014 I have felt that an alliance with another company similarly embedded in the book industry could create an organisation with the customer and author at its centre. So when Susie Nicklin of The Marsh Agency responded to the Bookseller article I immediately knew that this was the right direction for Dulwich Books and I am incredibly excited about the coming years and what we can achieve together.”

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