Letters: A fond farewell from Rogan’s Books

Rogan's Books
Booktastic Festival director, Rachael Rogan

Dear editor,

What a difference a month makes…

Four weeks ago, we sadly announced our plans to close the doors on our physical bookshop for the last time.

We made the decision not to renew our lease when it ends in September, instead planning to use our final months to reflect on an incredible five years as part of Bedford’s wonderful community.

We were looking forward to saying a long, celebratory goodbye, sharing memories and inviting our friends to join us in a happy farewell party as we looked to our next chapter.

In just four short weeks we, like most other businesses in Bedford, have had to close our business unexpectedly, as the spectre of Covid-19 on the periphery became a very real presence, and we moved from managing social distancing, to mandatory closure.

Instead of taking the time to look over the exciting events, schemes and projects we’ve been involved in, we’ve been looking at how to responsibly keep a business going, meeting customer demand whilst maintaining health and safety standards.

Rather than celebrating five years of author visits, festivals, school projects, community outreach and general literary enthusiasm, we’ve been implementing home delivery services, learning how to facilitate safe shopping practices, and fast-tracking our plans to deliver a managed exit overnight.

It still hasn’t really sunk in, but we’re starting to mourn the fact that this is it.

Once the lockdown is over, once we emerge, blinking, into the outside world, Rogan’s Books, as we know it, will be gone.

As a consequence, we haven’t had chance to say a proper thank you.

Five years ago, most people thought we were completely insane to open an independent children’s bookshop. But Bedford’s families threw themselves behind our crazy little corner of booky magic.

We want to say a massive thank you to all those families who supported us despite the ever-looming presence of Am***n.

Thank you to our amazing family of independent businesses in Bedford, who created a supportive network that was a real comfort when times were, inevitably, hard.

Thank you to the schools who invited us in to talk about books, who welcomed authors, who bought our book vouchers as prizes, who used us to stock their libraries.

Thank you to the museums who joyfully signposted families to us as a haven for book lovers.

Thank you to everyone who thought that we were worth preserving, worth supporting and worth encouraging.

For now, we are concentrating on family and community and getting through this extraordinary time.

But Bedford has powerfully demonstrated that there is always a place for artists, optimists and dreamers in our beautiful river town.

We’re looking forward to the end of the lockdown when we can all come together to share the love of literature again, and using the time busily planning the next phase of our adventure.

So, thank you for everything, we’re really looking forward to seeing you all again soon.

Rachael Rogan

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