70 Pinstone Street

City Centre

La Biblioteka, 70 Pinstone Street, S1 2HP

Open Tuesday-Saturday, 11am-7pm.

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Print’s not dead at 70 Pinstone Street, where two traders of texts have built a new escape hatch into the universe of the written word. Along the road from the Peace Gardens, you’ll find Evelyn Risner and Alex Maxwell in charge of selecting the most interesting, beautiful, obscure and inspiring publications to fill their shelves, and your bookcases and magazine racks.

The pair, through their separate businesses, have taken a similar path onto the high street. Evelyn set up Handpicked Books to sell new titles and editions that you’re unlikely to find on the shelves of WHSmith. Alex, meanwhile, created La Biblioteka, in response to the independent magazine boom that’s seen subscription services like Stack take off and which, until last year, Sheffield was more or less missing out on.

Each with their roving selections of distinctive stock, Handpicked Books and La Biblioteka started building up customer bases at events and locations around the city. Evelyn secured shelf space Birds Yard in Chapel Walk and All Good Stuff at Butcher Works, while Alex curated a selection at Broomhill cafe Upshot Espresso. They were eventually paired up through the ReNew Sheffield scheme and decided to go in together on a permanent place of their own.

Despite it’s modest size, it’s easy to lose an hour flipping through pages at the Pinstone Street premises. The book selection spans from artsy city guides to alternative perspectives on history, eye-catching murder mysteries to cherishable children’s classics, poetry to illustration, ornithology to cuisine. Subjects covered in the mags are equally diverse: there’s Printed Pages on design, Makeshift on creativity, The Wire on music, Like The Wind on running, The Lifted Brow on Australian culture, Hello Mr on modern male homosexuality, Apartamento on interiors, Standart on coffee, The Idler on procrastination, Perdiz on happiness…

You get the idea: the two floors of 70 Pinstone Street are full of elegantly presented ideas. And with plans for events too, Handpicked Books and La Biblioteka are helping to maintain the relationship between people and the printed word.

Written by Robert Cooke; October 26, 2016
Photography by Nigel Barker.