New chapter to open for Devizes bookseller

This Is Wiltshire: Independent bookseller  Richard Matters is closing his Devizes shop after nine years. Picture by Paul Morris Independent bookseller Richard Matters is closing his Devizes shop after nine years. Picture by Paul Morris

Independent bookseller Richard Matters is closing his Devizes shop after nine years of trading.

Mr Matters, 61, said the lease on his shop, Reading Matters in Sidmouth Street, was up for renewal and he had decided not to continue.

He said: “The commercial side has been getting harder and harder. I have noticed the internet affecting my trade, but also there are ongoing effects of the recession.”

Mr Matters, who lives in Littleton Panell, sells quality half-price books on a range of subjects, including history, travel, gardening, cookery, biography, local places and maps. The premises were already a book shop, Baileys Book Bargains, when he took it over and renamed it.

Despite having another independent bookshop – Devizes Books, at the far end of Sidmouth Street, run by Jo Batchelor – as a competitor Mr Matters said both had co-existed well.

He said: “We complement each other, rather than compete. Our methods are different and they both seem to work. My books are mostly half-price and we don’t compete directly with the hot-off-the-press books that Jo Batchelor deals with.”

Mr Matters turned to selling books after a 34-year Army career.

The former officer, who worked at Upavon, said: “It was an ambition to run my own business and a book shop came up and it was ideal for what I wanted to do. I have never regretted it. I’ve had a fabulous time. It’s been really enjoyable.

“The customers have been fantastic. I thought it would be about books, but it’s not. It’s all about people. I will miss the people immensely, but I won’t miss being in here every Saturday.”

Retirement plans include walking, gardening and spen-ding time with his family, including two grandchildren.

The shop will close on July 12 and be re-let to antiques dealer John Parker. The John Parker Gallery sells British maritime paintings, ship models and maritime-related items.

He has previously been at the back of the Winkworth estate agency and near Costa Coffee in the Market Place and is now in High Street.

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