Questions for Bookshops

UK/IRL Indie Book Map

UK/IRL Indie Book Map

As part of the development of the individual posts for each bookshop on the list I will be sending out the questions that I asked on the ‘Browse A Bookshop’ feature to all bookshops on the list.

I’m going to rehash the pages of the bookshops who’ve already responded to fit into the new format and get a good start on the new phase of the blog.

I’ll also be prioritising developing posts for bookshops who send some answers back as this really makes my job easier.

So if you want to go to the top of the pile please email (contact@bigbeardedbookseller.com) me at least six answers to these following questions:

Question selection

  • How did you come up with the name of your bookshop?
  • Who are you? Owns the bookshop? Bit of a bio and pics, please 🙂
  • Why a bookshop? What made you want to get into bookselling?
  • General background/history of the shop please
  • Do you stock a variety of genres or do you specialise?
  • Do you mainly sell new or second-hand books?
  • What makes your bookshop special?
  • What’s the hardest thing about being a bookseller?
  • What’s the best thing about being a bookseller?
  • What’s the most surprising thing about being a bookseller?
  • What are the goals for your bookshop?
  • Do you think owning a bookshop has changed your life? How?
  • What book do you wish would sell better?
  • What little-known book do you think is underrated?
  • What well-known book do you think is overrated?
  • What is your preferred reading genre?
  • Describe your store in three words.
  • What book is your greatest treasure? Why?
  • What was your favourite childhood book? Why?
  • If you could invite any author for a book signing at your shop, who would you choose?
  • Where do you think the biggest change in book publishing will come from?
  • How do you reach potential readers/customers?
  • How do you choose the books you stock?
  • Do you have a favourite publisher? Why?
  • Name three books on your TBR.
  • What are you reading at the moment?
  • What’s the greatest lesson you’ve learned from selling books?
  • What music, if any, do you play in your shop? Why?
  • What is the best book-related gift you’ve ever received?
  • What is the weirdest thing a customer has ever asked for?
  • What do you get up to in a normal bookselling day?
  • What is the nicest thing a customer has ever said to you?

and could you send stores details; social media links, website, address, and lots of photos!


If you want to help and support this blog and my other projects (Indie Publishers and Big Bearded Bookseller) you could become a Patreon which would help pay for my hosting, domain names, streaming services, and the occasional bag of popcorn to eat while watching films.

If you can’t support with a monthly subscription a tip at my Ko-Fi is always appreciated, as is buying things from my Ko-Fi Shop.

You can always email me on contact@bigbeardedbookseller.com with any suggestions.

Quinn’s Bookshop, Market Harborough

Quinn’s Bookshop, Market Harborough in Leicestershire is down one of the market town’s old lanes making it really cute and one I’m really looking forward to visiting.

Contact:
Three Crowns Yard, High St LE16 7AF Market Harborough
01858 432313

Linktree: https://linktr.ee/QuinnsBookshop
Twitter: @QuinnsBookshop
Instagram: @quinnsbookshop.mh
Facebook: @QuinnsBookshop

 

In their own words

How did you come up with the name of your bookshop?

Our shop was originally owned by Kevin Quinn; father of GBBO winner Frances Quinn, which is where it got its name! Whilst they no longer own the business, the shop name has continued and the Quinn family are still customers.

Inside Quinn’s

Inside Quinn’s

Do you stock a variety of genres or do you specialise?

We stock a variety of genres across fiction, non-fiction, adult’s and children’s books. I think my favourite section is the children’s because the books are all so vibrant and exciting, and I’m a big kid at heart! Until very recently we didn’t have a manga or sci-fi section, but we sell Warhammer too and I felt these genres would appeal to our current customers, so I begged the owner nicely and now we do! And I’m pleased to say they’re selling well.

What makes your bookshop special?

We are tucked away down a little cobbled side alley into one of Market Harborough’s characteristic yards, which makes us a peaceful shop off the beaten track, and adds to our quirkiness. As my friend’s son beautifully put it, “It’s like you’re in Harry Potter!”

What’s the hardest thing about being a bookseller?

Having a customer come back and tell you they hated one of your favourite books!

What’s the best thing about being a bookseller?

Helping someone to find their new favourite book, or something that helps them through a difficult time, whether that’s with information to support them or good old fashioned escapism in a novel.

What’s the most surprising thing about being a bookseller?

The deep connection you make with some of your customers. I’ve worked in different types of retail and there’s nothing quite like ‘talking books’ to reveal someone’s personality and bare their soul to you rather rapidly.

Describe your store in three words.

Small but mighty

Inside Quinn’s

Inside Quinn’s

How do you choose the books you stock?

A lot of the time it’s simply a case of “ooh that looks interesting!” whilst flicking through the various buyers catalogues! I think you also get a feel for your customer base and will see books as you’re browsing and think “Mr xxx would love that!” or “Mrs xxx will be so thrilled that author has a new book coming out!” To summarise, it’s a mixture of what I’d like to read, and what I know our customers enjoy reading. With us being in such a rural area anything nature or farming related always goes down a storm!

Do you have a favourite publisher? Why?

You shouldn’t have favourites but YES! I LOVE Nosy Crow – their children’s chapter books are usually fantastic stories and full of substance with important themes and messages, and their younger children’s books are so colourful and exciting! It’s always an expensive publisher rep chat though because I end up buying half their catalogue for my daughters!

Name three books on your TBR.

Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman, The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald (I bought this from Southwold books when I visited recently – lovely shop, would highly recommend) and Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett (I’m rereading this because I read it over ten years ago and loved it, now it’s been chosen by the bookclub I attend so I need a refresher).

What’s the greatest lesson you’ve learned from selling books?

That you can never underestimate how much a story can impact someone’s life. They’re powerful things, books.

What is the weirdest thing a customer has ever asked for?

It was when I worked for a previous bookshop chain which has since closed down – we had a customer looking for travel plugs; the sort you take to Europe so that British plugs work in European plug sockets!

What do you get up to in a normal bookselling day?

Chatting to customers mainly! Ordering books, drinking tea, ordering some more books, eating my lunch too early because I have no restraint, replying to emails, drinking some more tea, alphabetising the books, drinking more tea, scanning deliveries in, debating for half an hour over which books make the cut for the new paperback table, drinking more tea, changing my mind about which books to put on the new paperback table and rearranging it, emptying the bins, locking up and going home to drink more tea!

What is the nicest thing a customer has ever said to you?

“Your shop is well curated”. They’ll never realise what a spirit-lifting, confidence boosting compliment that was. When I was a teenager I wanted to be an art gallery curator and for one reason or another that dream fell through. I went into retail (stacking shelves in a supermarket at the time), and it never occurred to me that it would lead onto me still being a curator of sorts in later life. Books suit me better than art anyway, so it’s all come good in the end!


If you want to help and support this blog and my other projects (Indie Publishers and Big Bearded Bookseller) you could become a Patreon which would help pay for my hosting, domain names, streaming services, and the occasional bag of popcorn to eat while watching films.

If you can’t support with a monthly subscription a tip at my Ko-Fi is always appreciated, as is buying things from my Ko-Fi Shop.

You can always email me on contact@bigbeardedbookseller.com with any suggestions.

10 of Those

10 of Those is a Christian bookseller that is based in Lancashire and uses any profits to support Christian mission through the provision of quality Christian resources.

Contact:
Unit C, Tomlinson Road, Leland, Lancashire, PR25 2DY
01772 621216
03302 233423

Twitter: @10ofthose
Instagram: @10ofthose
Facebook: @10ofthose

 


If you want to help and support this blog and my other projects (Indie Publishers and Big Bearded Bookseller) you could become a Patreon which would help pay for my hosting, domain names, streaming services, and the occasional bag of popcorn to eat while watching films.

If you can’t support with a monthly subscription a tip at my Ko-Fi is always appreciated, as is buying things from my Ko-Fi Shop.

You can always email me on contact@bigbeardedbookseller.com with any suggestions.

2 Tone Comics, Hebden Bridge

2 Tone Comics is a comic shop in Hebden Bridge, one of my favourite towns in West Yorkshire.

I’ve not had a chance to visit them yet but from exploring their Facebook page they look like an extremely energetic shop, visiting comic conventions and shows.

They have a massive back catalogue and if you want to visit them they are open Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

Contact:

40 Market Street, Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, HX7 6AA

Telephone: 01422 845666
Email: amonkey21@aol.com
Website: http://www.2tonecomics.com/
Instagram: @2_tone_comics
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/2-Tone-Comics-121609787880984/

 


If you want to help and support this blog and my other projects (Indie Publishers and Big Bearded Bookseller) you could become a Patreon which would help pay for my hosting, domain names, streaming services, and the occasional bag of popcorn to eat while watching films.

If you can’t support with a monthly subscription a tip at my Ko-Fi is always appreciated, as is buying things from my Ko-Fi Shop.

You can always email me on contact@bigbeardedbookseller.com with any suggestions.

Topping and Company, Edinburgh

Contact:

2 Blenheim Place
Edinburgh
EH7 5JH
Telephone: 0131 546 4202
Website: www.toppingbooks.co.uk
Twitter: @ToppingsEdin
Facebook: @ToppingsEdin

It was with great pleasure that I was able to visit Topping and Co in Edinburgh not long before the first lockdown as part of a little jaunt I had to look at some bookshops in my old home town.

Topping is set up in an old bank just up from where my Gran used to live (Typewronger is at the bottom of the block they actually lived in) and I remember that area with some fondness.

The ground floor of the building has a wonderful central display case of signed and valuable books and I spent quite a while just lusting over several editions and it took quite a bit of will power to leave these and venture upstairs.

It was well worth it, the first floor is full of little rooms (the old offices) crammed with books floor to ceiling and sitting places, coffee station and very attentive staff.

I spent a good hour just exploring these rooms and left with a couple of books of poetry and some cards.

Looking forward to visiting again, hopefully soon.


If you want to help and support this blog and my other projects (Indie Publishers and Big Bearded Bookseller) you could become a Patreon which would help pay for my hosting, domain names, streaming services, and the occasional bag of popcorn to eat while watching films.

If you can’t support with a monthly subscription a tip at my Ko-Fi is always appreciated, as is buying things from my Ko-Fi Shop.

You can always email me on contact@bigbeardedbookseller.com with any suggestions.

Lighthouse Radical Bookshop, Edinburgh

Contact:

43-45 W Nicolson Street
Newington
Edinburgh
EH8 9DB
Telephone: 0131 662 9112
Website: https://lighthousebookshop.com/
Twitter: @lighthousebks
Instagram: @lighthousebks
Facebook: @LighthouseBks

Another of my favourite Edinburgh bookshops, I do try to pop in as often as I can whenever I get up to visit.

I’ve always felt that Word Power Books and then Lighthouse Books carried on the important traditions of Lavender Menace and a large metropolitan city such as Edinburgh should have radical bookshops, to both educate and challenge.

You’re always sure of a couple of things, great service and a pile of interesting books, I especially love the changing collection of zines.

Now more than ever, with the rise of popularism and the right, shops such as Lighthouse Bookshop need our support to help keep up the fight.


If you want to help and support this blog and my other projects (Indie Publishers and Big Bearded Bookseller) you could become a Patreon which would help pay for my hosting, domain names, streaming services, and the occasional bag of popcorn to eat while watching films.

If you can’t support with a monthly subscription a tip at my Ko-Fi is always appreciated, as is buying things from my Ko-Fi Shop.

You can always email me on contact@bigbeardedbookseller.com with any suggestions.