Barter Books

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Barter Books is in the former Alnwick railway station

Barter Books is a second-hand bookshop in the historic English market town of Alnwick, Northumberland, owned and run by Stuart and Mary Manley. It has over 350,000 visitors a year, 40% of whom are from outside the area, and is one of the largest second-hand bookstores in Europe.[1] It is considered a local tourist attraction[2][3] and has been described as "the British Library of second-hand bookshops."[4]

The bookshop is in the Victorian Alnwick railway station, designed by William Bell and opened in 1887.[5] The station was in use until the closure of the Alnwick branch line in 1968;[6] 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.

Original copy of the 1939 Keep Calm And Carry On poster, in Barter Books, Alnwick, Northumberland.

Barter Books has also been subject to crime on occasions. On 3 May 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.[7]

Barter Books hit the headlines in 2000 when the owner discovered, in a box of old books bought at an auction,[8] a World War II poster from 1939. The slogan, "Keep Calm and Carry On", and the simple design have turned it into an international phenomenon; and it has been on the walls of places as diverse as Buckingham Palace, 10 Downing Street and the US Embassy in Belgium.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "A Novel Experience - A Visit to Barter Books Alnwick". Tracy's Travels in Time. 2019-05-10. Retrieved 2020-09-28.
  2. ^ "Visit Barter Books | Stay With Us". YHA. Retrieved 2020-09-28.
  3. ^ "Alnwick - Tourism - England - Discover UK - About The UK - China". Retrieved 2014-04-21.[permanent dead link]
  4. ^ "Mr Smith goes to . . . the second-hand bookshop". Retrieved 2020-09-28.
  5. ^ "Aln Valley Railway and Society @". Archived from the original on 2016-01-18. Retrieved 2014-04-21.
  6. ^ Alnwick Branch Archived August 8, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ "Happy ending for stolen rare book - Northumberland Today". Retrieved 2014-04-21.
  8. ^ "About". Retrieved 2014-04-21.
  9. ^ What Crisis? Keep Calm and Carry On: The Poster we Can't Stop Buying - The Guardian

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 55°24′37″N 1°41′58″W / 55.41028°N 1.69944°W / 55.41028; -1.69944