It’s been Oliver Mason‘s dream to own his own bookshop for as long as he can remember, and this week Gulp Fiction opened its doors for the first time, right in the heart of Oxford’s Covered Market.
It means you can now buy and sell books there, browse, read, drink coffee, have a beer and generally relax in this wonderful secondhand bookshop, in one of the greatest literary city’s in the world.
“you need to make going into a bookshop more of an experience if you want to thrive”
Gulp Fiction will also host events – comedy, authors, music and poetry, to make it a real cultural hub in Oxford.
So why here and why now? With grants from Uber and Makespace Oxford he was able to lease the former flower shop, and the walls are now lined with novels.
“The Covered Market wants to change its offerings and we really fitted in with that,” he says, “so although we don’t offer food, people can buy it from the other traders and come and eat here with our coffee or beer.
“The only problem is that I’m so busy opening my own bookshop that I don’t have any time to read”
With coffee from Missing Bean (Oliver is also a trained barista), beer from Oxford’s Tap Social and BMan Brewery, and Oliver’s passion for books, Gulp Fiction is already doing a roaring trade despite only opening its doors this week, (Gulp Fiction officially opens at the weekend).
“At this rate we will run out of books,” Oliver grins. “I’m selling books faster than I can get them in. But then my gift is knowing what people want to read.”
Oliver also needs people to take their books in for him to buy. “We have a deal with Oxfam and Emmaus where they send in books and we buy the ones we want, but we need more.”
This is only the first phase of his vision – while downstairs will house the cafe/reading area, Oliver then plans to convert the extensive upstairs into a non-fiction paradise.
“I had a really clear idea of how I wanted Gulp Fiction to be. Bookselling needs to change because people buy books in different ways now – you need to bring something new into the equation and make going to a bookshop more of an experience if you want to thrive,” he says.
Fiction fanatic Oliver has always loved books, his earliest memory is reading Charlie and The Chocolate Factory as he walked to school. “I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t obsessed with books,” he admits.
Unsurprisingly, Oliver became a book buyer for Waterstones and Blackwell’s, before being furloughed and seizing the chance to open his own secondhand bookshop.
“The only problem now is that I’m so busy opening my own bookshop that I don’t have any time to read,” he says.
Gulp Fiction books is at Unit 28, 29 Covered Market, Oxford OX1 3DU.