Home Features Bookshop Focus—Raven Books, Blackrock, Dublin

Bookshop Focus—Raven Books, Blackrock, Dublin

Left: Photograph of Louisa Cameron by Ger Holland Photography.

Raven Books, Blackrock Village, Dublin

How it started

Raven Books opened in 2008, a few months before the crash. We survived the recession, the craze of e-books, and the pandemic!

Our model of selling both new and secondhand books finds a balance between supporting authors/illustrators/publishers etc. and being environmentally sound in helping to keep books out of landfills. It also means that browsers never quite know what treasures they might find on our shelves. 

Our first location was tiny, on a side street in Blackrock Village, and in 2011 we moved to our current, larger-but-still-small location on Main Street.

It has been a joy to see kids just born when we opened progress from board books to reading YA, and it feels incredibly satisfying to know that as adults they may be able to attribute the stories they bought with us as formative.

How it’s going

It is going well. Business is steady. There is a calm in the everyday bookshop bustle. Very welcome after all the turbulence. We are hugely lucky to be supported by a fabulous community and our outreach during the pandemic has rooted us even more firmly in serving our neighbours.

Many of our customers who were employed in the village prior to 2020 have expressed such joy walking back in through our door after working from home for so long and missing their lunchtime browsing.

Raven Books was the winner of the O’Brien Bookseller Award, 2021.

It has made me appreciate even more what it means for Raven Books to be an active part of village life, a Main Street staple for over ten years, making books and all they represent a daily presence.

Our community stretches beyond those living and working in Blackrock and, with the generosity of our customers, among other initiatives we have organised books for a refugee camp library in Greece, posted books for Ukrainian students to schools around Ireland, and last Christmas provided eleven boxes of childrens books for kids in Direct Provision.

What’s next

As the saying goes, “If you want to make God laugh, plan for tomorrow”. What I considered, when I was in the early stages of figuring out what kind of bookshop I wanted back in 2008, remains true to this day:

It is our intention to provide an engaging and inclusive environment where the lives of individuals and the life of the community is enriched through learning, entertainment and imagination. We strive to be a credit to the community we serve, a valuable resource to our customers, and a place where our dedicated readers can grow and prosper.

If we can do this, every day, for our community, regardless of what is thrown our way, that is our marker for success.

A book recommendation

Suad Aldarra‘s I Don’t Want to Talk About Home, a beautifully written and engaging memoir making individual what too often is impersonal international headlines. It takes Suad from Saudi Arabia to Ireland via Damascus with brief forays to New York.

Suad Aldarra

I’ve also recently discovered the poetry of Ada Limón, the current poet laureate of the United States, on the recommendation of a customer. Her collection The Carrying is particularly good.