When Peter Budek established The Eagle Bookshop in 1991, he was pretty much the baby in the trade. Twenty-three years later, he still is. During that time, the bookshop in Castle Road, Bedford, has expanded considerably -- and so, rather less flatteringly, has the proprietor.

The early days: Business partners and optimists, the proprietor and his mother stand
in the jungle at the back of what was to become
The Eagle Bookshop...

and at the front of what was then The Sunflower Wholefood Cooperative. It took months to shake off a reputation for supplying the best organic carrots in Bedfordshire

In 1997, unable to contain the vast number of volumes miraculously appearing on the premises, he viciously evicted himself and his poor young wife from their rooms above the shop in order to create more space for books. His priorities seemed pretty clear at the time -- a charge which could still be made today.

The signs are painted, trade is good but the hair is beginning to thin...

A year later, emboldened by the extra cubic feet, he set about purchasing the entire stock of well known London book dealer, F E Whitehart. Fred's specialist stock formed the basis of the shop's Mathematics and Science Rooms -- surely the best selection of such material in Christendom. Or the East Midlands (south), at least.

Part of Lou Wolters' murals on the bookshop wall

The proprietor keeps on buying books!


The next bit of reckless biblio-imperialism was to look lustfully at the property next door when it came up for sale in 2004. A little shameful grovelling to the bank allowed the bookshop to create out of it room for even more books upstairs, whilst at the same time establishing a home for local artists in the space below.

Although the success of the outstanding Eagle Gallery co-operative is entirely due to the talents and determination of its member artists, the shop likes to give itself a pat on the back about it whenever it can.

The outdoor displays get increasingly adventurous through the summer,
as they play cat and mouse with the Bedford weather.

As the proprietor approached, navigated and denied middle age (which is still regarded as extreme youth in the book trade), he made the dull right-of-passage-for-a-business decision to turn The Eagle Bookshop into a limited company. Nothing magical happened. He has therefore postponed indefinitely the urge to grow up in any other respect.

Would you buy a book from them? Of course you would.
Some of the team, 2015: Calantha, Tim, Fiona and Peter

So, where are we now? 40,000 books in six display rooms (yes, we've counted every one), a lovely new website (thanks, Fleur and Alasdair), an undiminished lust for books, and the most wonderful group of customers a shop could boast.

Do come along and join them!


Shop opening times
All pages ©Eagle Bookshop Ltd 2015, trading as The Eagle Bookshop.

16 - 20 St Peters Street, Bedford, MK40 2NN, UK

Script: Fleur Budek · Images: Alasdair Bright · Design: P.B.
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