BIG change is afoot at the independent bookseller who brought world-class explorer Ranulph Fiennes and political powerhouses Ann Widdecombe and Lord Douglas Hurd to Taunton for its lovers of literature.

Brendon Books, owned by Lionel and Jo Ward, is celebrating its 25th birthday in Bath Place this year.

And to top it off, Lionel, founder of Taunton Literary Festival and the town’s book talk hub, and father of popular local arts mag Lamp, took the leap to make Brendon Books a Community Interest Company.

CICs were introduced by the Government in 2005. They are social enterprises which use their profits for public benefit.

Speaking to the County Gazette, Lionel said he sees this new era of Brendon Books CIC as consolidating the bookshop as the home of Taunton’s literary activity.

“It’s a direction we’ve been travelling in anyway, because we are now far more than a bookshop, and it seems to make perfect sense,” says Lionel.

“It means that we can still operate as a business, but any profits will go towards things like the Taunton Literary Festival and our associated events.

“It also means we’ll be able to accept book donations, like Oxfam, and vitally, it will grant us some rate relief, as well as – hopefully – access to funds to support the festival project, which we have been supporting singlehandedly.”

Lionel added: “I think it will put us in a better position as a social enterprise.”

More events are planned, including another festival, exploring science and nature.

“There is a lot of interaction between these two areas, and it’s a local strength, so the scope is huge – Somerset Wildlife Trust has 20,000 members, for example.

“And I really want to get the schools involved, and I’m hoping we’ll have some great talks, but also that we might have scientific experiments.”

For the latest information about what’s happening at Brendon Books, visit

The courtyard outside the shop is also set to host a dragon as part of the Taunton Deane Dragon Trail this summer.