Ideas on Paper: Guest Blog from Alex Smith

Nottingham is bucking trends at the moment. Not only have we recently seen an independent bookshop open up (Five Leaves Bookshop) but we now have a bespoke magazine shop too. Here owner Alex Smith explains why there is a boom in independent print.

I set up the shop because there’s a boom in independent print at the moment – it’s a great time to be making magazines and I’ve always loved books, reading and been interested in a broad spread of cultural topics from design to international relations.

As a kid growing up in Nottingham I’d come into town at the weekend to visit the shops in Hockley and on Bridlesmith Gate knowing from an early age that that was what I wanted to do; however I realised I needed to learn the trade first.

So, I took myself off to London where I studied at Harrods – they have a great management training course which gives an excellent grounding in the business – from there I went on to work for the likes of Harvey Nichols and Selfridges, did time with Mulberry while I was at university and came back home to Nottingham to work at Flannels on Bridlesmith Gate – Nash Interiors approached me and asked if I would help run their store on Carlton Street which I did for two years; later I was headhunted back to London to run the retail side of luxury menswear brand Duchamp.

I escaped from London and came home to Nottingham just as the Olympics was starting – I’ve been preparing for the launch of Ideas on Paper since then.

Alex Smith

Alex Smith

I launched Ideas on Paper because I wanted to bring something new and exciting to the city – not just another clothes shop – there is a boom in magazines publishing at the moment so I felt this would be a great product to bring to the city; my aim is to be a catalyst for other peoples’ thinking – the aim is to bring ideas and inspiration to people who will then begin businesses and projects of their own – so adding to the richness (cultural and financial) of the city of Nottingham – my hometown.

I sell a thought provoking and collectible selection of magazines, journals, and books to Nottingham; independent titles on fashion, art, culture, design, business, economics, food, wine and travel, are complemented by a range of stationery, enabling customers to get their ideas on paper. The sourcing process is a fascinating mix of following the Instagram posts of other shops such as Coffee Table Mags in Hamburg Germany and Magnation in Melbourn and Sydney Australia. I also follow blogs such as //STACK magazines and MagCulture and get to hear about new projects and redesigns by listening to Monocle Magazine’s radio station M24. Customer recommendations are also a really great way to learn about new titles I might have missed – I love discovering magazines that customers are passionate about and then bringing them to the store so that other people can enjoy them too.


I have been taking the show on the road by visiting local branding, design agencies and marketing consultancies – basically any local creative business that is interested in hosting a pop up event – so far I’ve been doing this with a stack of tote boxes and pulling them behind me on a rather nice little trolley; but I will be expanding the operation shortly with the purchase of a cargo bike from Denmark.  The bike is the model used by the Danish postal service and is a great way to push a stack of paper around the city in an eco friendly way – I will soon  be seen pedalling this beauty around town.

Three magazines that I would recommend right now are:

Monocle with its double issue for July/August in which it profiles the top 25 most liveable cities in the world (with one glaring exception of course – Nottingham is not on the list!) Monocle is a briefing on global affairs, business, culture and design – the magazine has a unique set of aesthetics and journalistic style.

The Ride Journal is a sheer joy for cycling fans both saddle and armchair based; whether it’s the beautiful illustrations, carefully crafted writing or stunning photography, The Ride is an excellent addition to both rucksack and coffee table.

Offscreen is a magazine about the internet; through the tactile medium of the printed page it offers insight into an ephemeral industry; through its format, it encourages us to put our iPads down, grab a cup of coffee and enjoy a high quality read the old-fashioned way.

Ideas on Paper: 1 Cobden Chambers, Pelham Street, Nottingham. NG1 2ED. Tel: 07977098375 Web:


One thought on “Ideas on Paper: Guest Blog from Alex Smith

  1. Pingback: #MondayBlogs William Booth celebrated on LeftLion front cover | Dawn of the Unread

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s