Under the umbrella of our Placeholder series, we'll be investigating the best bookshops the UK has to offer. Some will be familiar, others might take you by surprise. However, the common thread at play here will be an appreciation and love for all things publishing. Head here for our previous look at the ICA Bookshop in London

Ideas On Paper is a place to get lost in - a funny thing to say given the intimate space, being as it is a few meters by a few meters more. Lost of course in the sense of the array of magazines on offer and whole worlds to be discovered inside them, made even more appealing due to the inviting and meticulously laid out manner in the pristine yet-homely store.

The store has been open for close to two years now in Cobden Chambers, which is now home to a number of exciting, creative, and independent businesses in this once derelict set of buildings. For those not familiar with Nottingham Cobden. Chambers is found within what many would lazily dub as the 'hipster' area of the city, Hockley - home to many interesting record shops, galleries, bars and cafés.

Tim Boddy spent a thoroughly pleasant afternoon in the shop leafing through the publications on offer, as well as smelling them and talking with shop owner Alex about these objects - an photographing the store also. Read our interview with Alex below - and be sure to follow Ideas On Paper on Instagram for all the latest magazine landing in store.

Disclaimer: The images found in this article have been licensed to The 405, but remain the property of the respective photographer. Use of these images without prior arrangement with the photographer is forbidden. For more information, please email the respective photographer or tim@thefourohfive.com

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How long have you been open?

About 18 months.

And what drove you to open this store?

I always planned to have my own shop in Nottingham, as a kid.. I don't know how well you know Nottingham but the shops in Hockley always had really interesting, independent stores and I always wanted to do something along those lines.

But when I told my parents I wanted to run my own shops they said "Well you don't know the first thing about running a shop"; so I moved to London and worked at Harrods and did a management training course, and worked for a number of different companies down there for many years - Harvey Nichols, Selfridges, Mulberry, and luxury menswear brand called Duchamp, and also I went to University down there and had a couple of head office roles. I did this all with a view to build a portfolio and gain experience so I could come back to Nottingham and open a store. Despite the fact that I worked in the menswear business most of that time I didn't have an appetite to open a men's clothes shop as I thought that may be boring. So I combined my experience in fashion retail with my love of books and reading alongside visual culture; so doing a bookshop like it's a fashion product.

Interesting, that's the pull-out quote right there.
What are your most popular titles, in terms of personal favourites and best sellers?

Monocle fits into that on both counts, because it's something that I'm excited by and I'm a fan of what they're doing as a brand. I encourage a lot of people who haven't discovered it before to purchase it, and to read what they have to say about the world and to listen to their radio station as well.

Things like Cereal magazine are very popular as well, I've noticed that a lot of students purchase it to copy layouts as it's a beautifully laid out thing.

This is Monocle that shows all the radio programs they do - it's worth checking out for things like Section D that discusses design and urbanism, and for music you'd be interested in The Culture Show that features quite a lot of music, and in between the talk programs they play a lot of music also.

Monocle were the ones, maybe not a noble claim to fame, but they introduced Gangnam Style to the West...

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Wow I never thought Monocle would have been at the forefront of Gangnam Style

Yeah well they often talk about J (and K)-Pop and they have quite a 'poppy' ear with a very Global view rather than just a UK/European perspective.

Then Cereal is very pure and clean and beautifully laid out, with sparse images in the photography, and a lot of people like to take inspiration from their layouts from the mag.
I tend to encourage them to look a little further because sometimes this (Cereal) is the easy option..

Yeah, it's almost too obvious for want of a better word as it is so successful. So where would you push someone to from Cereal, to get something more?

Probably something like Sidetracks. It's something that was originally much richer and still makes a great use of empty space, but it's a more densely-packed fuller read at the same time. Things like doing white text on a coloured background, and having text with the image as opposed to having it on a separate page. You can draw parallels between Cereal and Sidetracked, but this (Sidetracked) has more meat on the bone.

I see my role, well, selling books and magazines of course, but I see it more as linking people up with ideas - hence the name Ideas On Paper. I prefer a low-tech approach and a slower approach; I'm not saying "analogue is good and digital is bad" as that's too simplistic a narrative. But if I wanted to read something I'd much rather look at it on a piece of paper than a screen; images look better on a page, it's less painful on the eye to read something, so there's a whole host of reasons as to why a magazine is more exciting... the smell of the ink, the feel of the paper..

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..It's tangible.

Yeah, it's a tactile experience. As human beings we have five senses, and the more of them that we get stimulated the more fulfilling we find it. When you're looking at something on a screen it's quite a one dimensional experience. the number of people here that pick something up and smell it and probably think they're the only person who does that, when actually more than half of people do that.

Another thing about the whole screen-based versus having something in your hands...

[opens a up a mag] This is a good one!

[has a sniff]

Ha yes wonderful, I will bottle that one.

... is the concentration factor. So it's a more - and this is a bit of a cliche word to use - more of a Zen experience when you have something in your hands, as your focus is on this object in front of you. But with a screen you have all these distractions of multiple tabs on browsers, emails everywhere, phones, social media...

There is something deep within our consciousness that makes us take things more seriously when they're written down on a page, and the online world is designed to be... well you flick from one thing to another even if you're working on your own stuff, you jump from Word to Excel, to different websites, then one minute you're on your email then you check something else. It's very nature is transitory. When you're holding something in your hand it's got your attention a little bit more, at least while you're holding it.

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Agreed so much. What kind of people come into Ideas On Paper?

It's a real cross-section of people, as Nottingham is full of people who are very independently minded and like to do things in their way, so it makes sense to have a store like this here. There's loads of creatives whether they are already working in the creative industry, so web developers, graphic designers, photographers, or... people involved with creative subjects such as students in Fashion Communication and promotion, fashion design, photography, graphic design. So this (Ideas On Paper) feeds into their work whether it's at University or paid employment.

And other people who simply love reading and look beyond traditional formats and publications for that. For example one of our best customers is a barber and he buys around six magazines a week so that has stuff for his customers to read, but as much as anything else so he has reading material for himself during quieter moments; and he devours stuff, he's an avid reader, and prefers this kind of format to traditional books.

I assume you have, particularly in an intimate space such like this, a fair few regulars to talk to and engage with - it must be nice to build relationships and generally have a good old chat.

Yes, yes definitely. I intended the shop to feel like the interior of a graphic designer's apartment, so I think it's quite a domestic space and I hope that people feel that it is; and I like people to linger. People are welcome to pull five or six things off the shelves and have a seat, and decide on what they want to select.

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Do you have any plans to expand from this store or alter this business model?

I'd like to expand to somewhere bigger, and I think about growing into additional products or services. I don't want to roll the concept out to every other city in the UK, I would rather stay in Nottingham and grow to fit naturally with things that fit alongside (this city). I'm still in my first two years so I will take things step-by-step.

And it's gone well in these first two years?

Yes, yes it's been great, and a lot busier than I expected it to be.

Do you find people travel from outside of Nottingham to come here?

I do, the furthest someone has traveled was from Brighton to come here - but actually that was a guy called Martin heard me talking on Monocle radio about my shop, and contacted me and said "You've done what I planned to do! Can I come and pick your brains (and buy lots of magazines to read)". So he's now opened a shop called Brighton Magazine. I've not been yet, but he came to see me when I was in my other shop a couple of doors down, and talked to him about how I got started and who I dealt with, and what approach I had taken.

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For the record we bought the following mags:
Boat Magazine - Issue 10 (a special on Tel Aviv)
Hello Mr - issue 06 (a magazine about "men who date men". See our feature on it here.
Brownbook - no. 51 (the richest smelling magazine, the mag that interrupted our interview as seen above)

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