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Historical bookshop standing strong thanks to ‘loyal staff and customers’

PUBLISHED: 14:15 11 March 2018 | UPDATED: 14:15 11 March 2018

Diss Publishing, an independent family-run book store on Mere Street in Diss. Photo: Harriet Orrell

Diss Publishing, an independent family-run book store on Mere Street in Diss. Photo: Harriet Orrell

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For years publishing headlines have been dominated by news of independent bookshops closing their doors due to dwindling trade.

Diss Publishing stocks a range of trinkets and gifts alongside its vast selection of books. Photo: Harriet Orrell Diss Publishing stocks a range of trinkets and gifts alongside its vast selection of books. Photo: Harriet Orrell

However the iconic mere-side premesis of Diss Publishing has no plans to go anywhere anytime soon.

The shop has stood in the market town for more than 150 years and is constantly evolving to keep its customers coming back.

Owner Birgitte Mager said: “Our family have owned the shop since 1969 and because we are an independent and family-run shop we have to move with the times, coming up with new ideas and expanding into new areas.

“We keep trying to find new avenues and I’ve got a fantastic staff and loyal customer base and that is why we are still here.”

The independent bookshop has branched out into craft supplies, trinkets and a coffee shop in order to stay open in the current economic climate. Photo: Harriet Orrell The independent bookshop has branched out into craft supplies, trinkets and a coffee shop in order to stay open in the current economic climate. Photo: Harriet Orrell

The shop originally sat under the printing presses at 1 Mere Street where six newspapers were produced weekly and in the 1970s they moved to their current location.

The building had previously been a garage with very few windows so in 2006 Birgitte ordered for two thirds of the building to be pulled down and replaced.

What stands in its place now is a large timber structure with high ceilings, a panoramic view of the mere and a cafe.

As well as books, the store is home to unique gifts and trinkets, art supplies and a children’s corner.

Diss Publishing has been owned by the Mager family since 1969 and remains an independent family-owned business. Photo: Harriet Orrell Diss Publishing has been owned by the Mager family since 1969 and remains an independent family-owned business. Photo: Harriet Orrell

Birgitte, originally from Denmark, moved to the UK in 1997 to work on her English and a three month trip has turned into 30 years after she met her husband and moved to the East Anglian countryside.

She said: “I began running the shop on behalf of my husband, and it was run by his father before him.

“We are very lucky that we own the premesis and have a cracking team working together.

“Diss is a really sweet market town and we really love the customers giving us feedback so we know what we are doing right.”

Diss Publishing has been in the market town for more than 150 years. Photo: Harriet Orrell Diss Publishing has been in the market town for more than 150 years. Photo: Harriet Orrell

Diss Publishing plays host to a number of guest authors each year including, most recently, Ann Thwaite who came to sign copies of Goodbye Christopher Robin which has recently been adapted for screen.

This year the shop is celebrating female writers in line with the 100th anniversary of the suffragette movement.

What are the staff reading?

In 2006 Diss Publishing renovated its building creating a cafe with panoramic views of the mere. Photo: Harriet Orrell In 2006 Diss Publishing renovated its building creating a cafe with panoramic views of the mere. Photo: Harriet Orrell

Birgitte Mager - The one book I absolutely love at the moment is Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life by Francesc Miralles. It is about appreciating the small things in life and learning how to live a better life by appreciating what you have. It’s a fantasatic book that everybody should read.

Kris Halls - At the moment I am about half way through The Hoarder by Jess Kidd. It is excellent, mysterious and a bit supernatural. There is a lot of humour and it makes me laugh out loud. It is the type of book you want to spend every spare minute reading and a brilliant read.

Kris Halls, who has worked at Diss Publishing since October, recommends The Hoarder by Jess Kidd. Photo: Harriet Orrell Kris Halls, who has worked at Diss Publishing since October, recommends The Hoarder by Jess Kidd. Photo: Harriet Orrell

Christina Worby - I have just finished The Wicked Cometh by Laura Carlin. I found it in Cambridge and it’s set in Georgian London where people start going missing and you just can’t put it down. You know it is a good read when you get into the heart of the main characters.

Christina Warby, who has worked at Diss Publishing since 2015, recommends The Wicked Cometh by Laura Carlin. Photo: Harriet Orrell Christina Warby, who has worked at Diss Publishing since 2015, recommends The Wicked Cometh by Laura Carlin. Photo: Harriet Orrell

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