Barter Books is a second-hand bookshop located in the historic English market town of Alnwick, Northumberland owned and run by Stuart and Mary Manley. It has over 200,000 visitors a year, 40% of whom are from outside the area, and is one of the largest second-hand bookstores in Europe. It is considered a local tourist attraction and has been described as "the British Library of second-hand bookshops."
The bookshop is located within the Victorian Alnwick railway station, designed by William Bell and opened in 1887. It was in use until the closure of the Alnwick branch line in 1968. Barter Books was opened in 1991.
The shop is notable for its use of a barter system, whereby customers can exchange their books for credit against future purchases. Standard cash purchases are also available.
Barter Books has also been subject to crime on occasions. On the May 3, 2007, a local newspaper, the Northumberland Gazette, reported that a book worth over £2,000 was returned to the book shop 5 years after it was stolen. It has also been subject to a scam which allowed thieves to take £200 in cash. However, the crime was dealt with later in court.
Barter Books hit the headlines in 2000 when the owner discovered, in a box of old books bought at an auction, an old World War II poster from 1939. The slogan, "Keep Calm and Carry On", and the simple design has turned it into an international phenomenon, and has been on the walls of places as diverse as Buckingham Palace, 10 Downing Street and the US Embassy in Belgium.
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- What Crisis? Keep Calm and Carry On: The Poster we Can't Stop Buying - The Guardian
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