Temple Fortune bookshop owner bows out after 25 years

PUBLISHED: 16:37 27 February 2018 | UPDATED: 16:37 27 February 2018

Michael Joseph. Picture: MO RESSLER

Michael Joseph. Picture: MO RESSLER


The owner of an independent bookshop is bowing out after 25 years of inspiring customers with a love of art, literature and food.

Michael Joseph gave up a career in law and role at publishing firm Penguin to open Joseph’s Bookstore in Temple Fortune in 1994.

His original ambition was to combine world literature and Jewish culture in one shop, but over the year the store has branched out putting on art exhibitions, events and opening a restaurant next door.

Mr Joseph said: “It’s obviously going to be a wrench to leave something you’ve loved and spend a lot of time doing over 25 years. It’s going to be a slightly strange experience to not have the shop anymore.

“I will feel very happy that I did it, but sad I won’t be coming in again on a Monday and Tuesday morning with all the joy and aggravation the goes with running a bookshop,” he added.

Over the years scores of writers, artists and scientists have appeared at the Finchley Road store including Israeli writer Amos Oz and Canadian author Michael Ignatieff.

Explaining how his shop thrived in the face of “huge changes” with the onset of online retailers and ebooks, Mr Joseph said: “You’ve got to do more than just put a book on a shelf and sell it.

“A quick way to sell books is to have an author come in, but we went against the grain. We’ve never had a book signing. You want people to be there to ask questions. We provide something like a home for our customers.”

Whilst operating the book store Mr Joseph has also published books by author Sally Berkovic and Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg.

Customers have told Mr Joseph, whose own taste in books includes “pretty much everything” apart from science fiction, they will be very upset to see the shop and restaurant go when the doors close in April.

Though for Mr Joseph, who lives with his wife of 44 years Mo Ressler in West Hampstead, retiring will give him more time to read, write and spend time with his five-month-old granddaughter Shohoshana.

However, Mr Joseph plans a few more events before closing with the latest being the launches of books by his daughter Kate Joseph and son-in-law Adam Karni Cohen.

He said: “That was a nice way of winding up my career here.”

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