Do you want to live in a bland, homogenous world where everybody listens to ‘Everything is Awesome’ as they drive into work in the morning?
No, me neither. I love shopping – or at least, I *want* to love it – and I love books. So it stands to reason that I love independent bookshops. They are uniquely good at making browsing and buying books as interesting and satisfying as it can be.
Book browsing is something that I’ve missed as a mother of small children, one of whom has autism and isn’t always great in shops, but now my children are a little older it’s a pleasure that I’m beginning to rediscover. A great independent bookshop draws its character from its owners and from the local community and its setting. It is part library, part haven, part portal to another world. You never quite know what you’re going to find, but the bookseller is on hand to act as your guide if you should want one.
I take my hat off to the people who run our independent bookshops. They’re the experts. They’re immensely knowledgeable, committed and enthusiastic about what they do. They have to be, to continue to thrive in a retail climate that does not always favour the high street. They do so much more than sell books; they reach out to local communities and beyond, and foster and support people’s love of books and reading.
Today is IBW Bookshop Crawl day. I wanted to take part, but haven’t managed to venture beyond my hometown of Abingdon – I popped into Mostly Books and The Bookstore this morning. And here I am back at my desk with my Bookshop Crawl sticker on to prove it!
Over the last couple of months, I’ve been to a number of independent bookshops in my local area, popping in to talk to booksellers about my new novel, After I Left You, and, inevitably, coming out with a book or two for myself. If I could have gone to them all today I would have done! If you get the chance, I urge you to check out all these fantastic bookshops.
- Mostly Books, Abingdon
- The Bookstore, Abingdon
- Wallingford Bookshop, Wallingford
- Chapter One Bookshop, Woodley
- Jaffe and Neale, Chipping Norton
- The Bell Bookshop, Henley
- The Book House, Summertown
I also heartily recommend The Book House in Thame. And I haven’t made it to Books & Ink in Banbury yet, but hope to one day soon!
Happy Independent Booksellers’ Week one and all!