Travelogue of Independent Bookshops

Link to pdf

Link to pdf

I’ve finally got all the indie bookshops that I know of listed into a working document.

This link will take you to the start of the document http://www.indiebookshops.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/Independent-Bookshops-Use-This-One.pdf where you can see if I’ve included your favourite bookshop.

The initial setup is by country, but bookshops will eventually be listed in their respective counties, so that they can be found easier.

The plan is to have address, contact details, website, and social media links added. There will then be a bit of a description of each shop, if it specialises (e.g. children’s), and some images.

If the bookshop has done a #BrowseABookshop feature they will get a box-out in the directory to highlight this.

This pdf is just the start but from now on it will become part of a reward tier on my Patreon, and sent out whenever it’s updated to people on that tier, aiming for once a month update.


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.

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.

Forum Books, Corbridge

Contact:

The Chapel
Market Place
Corbridge
Northumberland
NE45 5AW
Telephone: 01434 632 931
Website: https://www.forumbooksshop.com/
Twitter: @forumbooks
Instagram: @forumbookscorbridge
Facebook: @forumbookscorbridge

For me this was the bookshop that started all this *waves hands vaguely* off, not sure if I want to thank them or not 😉

We pop in every time we go up the A68 to Edinburgh and are always met with great energy and a lovely surrounding that it has become the main point of stopping off in Corbridge.

I’ve always had great recommends from all the staff here, and got the same from their pop-up at The Biscuit Factory, and so looking forward to visiting their new bookshop in Whitley Bay, ‘the bound’.


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.

Adventure into Books, Blairgowrie

Adventure into Books

Adventure into Books

I’ve always thought it was incredibly brave to open up a bookshop considering all the difficulties inherent in the business, but Kate and Ralph have decided to open one in hard mode in the middle of the first lockdown of 2020.

It’s been a while since I visited Blairgowrie (198… ok let’s just leave that) but a bookshop is always a great excuse to return to a town.

Adventure into Books
26 Wellmeadow
Blairgowrie
PH10 6AS
Telephone: 01250 872852

Website: www.adventureintobooks.co.uk
Facebook: @adventureintobooks
Instagram: @adventureintobooks

In their own words

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


Adventure into books: It had to say ‘books’ and describe the feeling of choosing and reading a book – also helps on listings that it starts with ‘A’.

Who are you? Owns the bookshop? Bit of a bio and pics, please


I’m Kate (Kate Davies), and I own the bookshop, which I run with the help of my husband, Ralph Baillie. I had long held a thought to open a bookshop, and when I found myself in the lovely Perthshire town of Blairgowrie, I reckoned it was time to make that idea a reality. The golden thread for me is words: always a lover of books, I ran a school magazine, then built a career around writing (for businesses), and am now delighted to be bringing words to other people. (My brother warned me that I did actually have to sell the books in my shop – not just read them myself)

General background/history of the shop please


We opened on 2 July 2020. An interesting year to learn a whole new trade. But we enjoyed and survived our first 6 months, and we’re looking forward to celebrating our first birthday in the summer!

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


We try to have something for everyone, but as we’re fairly small the focus is on children, fiction (general, crime/thriller, sci-fi/fantasy, classics, poetry), local (fiction and non-fiction: histories, maps, walking etc), and non-fiction (big emphasis on histories, biographies, through to the natural world). We try to make sure we have a good selection of Scottish books – local authors, books set in Scotland etc.

Do you mainly sell new or second-hand books?


New books.

What makes your bookshop special?


It’s early days, but the bookshop complements the town. There are lots of bibliophiles in the area: we have a great literary festival (in normal times), a community-run second-hand bookshop, a good library, and a Christian bookshop. And it is a town with schools, lots of independent shops, a thriving sense of community and (usually) a good flow of visitors – we seek to support all of this. We see ourselves as a service.

What’s the hardest thing about being a bookseller?

Juggling all the things that need to be done and trying to find time to read books.

What’s the best thing about being a bookseller?


People – we get to help people looking for that special gift, we get to share special moments like the arrival of a first grandchild, and for many of the books we sell, we get a story in return. Joy.

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


People – from all walks of life.

What are the goals for your bookshop?


To spread words and contribute to the town.

Do you think owning a bookshop has changed your life? How?


I’ve become way more sociable! Which is saying something in a pandemic year.

What book do you wish would sell better?


My husband would say David Attenborough’s A Life on Our Planet – very well written and an essential message.

I would say Along The Amber Route by CJ Schuler – not so much for teaching me about amber, but for teaching me about the changing nature of borders and challenging our concept of ‘country’.

What little-known book do you think is underrated?


It’s not underrated (I’ve only ever had good feedback on it), but I would love more people to know about Threads of Life by Clare Hunter. A fascinating history of textiles and sewing and the cultural and economic importance this has played through the years.

What well-known book do you think is overrated?


Shuggie Bain – way too long and repetitive. There is a story arc in it but it just gets lost.

What is your preferred reading genre?


Everything.

Describe your store in three words.


Light, bright, welcoming.

What book is your greatest treasure? Why?


I have too many ‘treasures’ (just had to buy another bookcase at home)– but the one that gets most work is my Thesaurus. It’s helped me earn a living as a writer.

What was your favourite childhood book? Why?


Heidi – scary in its uncertainty then comforting.

If you could invite any author for a book signing at your shop, who would you choose?


David Attenborough and Rachel Joyce (loved her book ‘Miss Benson’s Beetle’)

Where do you think the biggest change in book publishing will come from?

Diversity of voice – race, gender, age and background.

Diversity of format – printed books, graphics, audio, ebooks ….. virtual reality?

How do you reach potential readers/customers?


Shop window works amazingly well; but also Facebook and Instagram (working up to Twitter), our website, the town website, the local papers and the local quarterly Hub magazine. We’ve also taken orders while out walking on a Sunday in the local woods….

How do you choose the books you stock?

Mixture of what’s selling well, our customer mix, recommendations, press blurb, gut instinct.

Do you have a favourite publisher? Why?


Just getting to know them; but do love our local Perth publisher – Tippermuir Books. Not mainstream, but a delight to work with.

Name three books on your TBR.


Olive Again; The Boundless Sea; The Evening and the Morning

What are you reading at the moment?


Just finished Fragile Monsters (Catherine Menon) – good book for a book club; now starting into Girl A.

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


I learn something every day and hope I continue to do so.

What music, if any, do you play in your shop? Why?


We don’t. It would be jazz if we did…. But that’s too distracting.

What is the best book-related gift you’ve ever received?


A badge depicting books, which a friend gave me when we opened the shop, and a book-festooned cushion made by my business mentor (and quilter), again for our opening.

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


‘Do you know where I can get a mouse trap?’ Or, more related ‘could you find me a book about Welsh copper mining and slavery in the 16th century?’ – we did! Two of them!

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


A bit of everything: chatting with customers, selling books, ordering books, paying bills, posting something on FB, speaking with publishers, speaking with the local paper, updating the websites, making decorations for the next window display….

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

That they love our bookshop and can they distribute some our catalogues so their friends know about us!


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.

The Aldeburgh Bookshop, Aldeburgh


Based in the pretty Suffolk coastal town of Aldeburgh, the bookshop is 72 years old and for the last 21 years has been run by Mary and John who started the Aldeburgh Festival once settled in. Check out the tote bag map!

The Aldeburgh Bookshop
42 High Street
Aldeburgh
IP15 5AB
Telephone: 01728 452389
Mobile: 07855 680911
Email: johnandmary@aldeburghbookshop.co.uk

Website: www.aldeburghbookshop.co.uk
Twitter: @aldebooks
Instagram: @aldeburghbookshop
Facebook: Aldeburgh Bookshop

In their own words

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

The shop is going to be 72 years old this year. Founded in 1949.

Mary and John James

Mary and John James

Who are you? Owns the bookshop? Bit of a bio and pics, please

We are the current owners, we bought the shop in 2000. Husband and wife team, John and Mary James, John was a chartered surveyor in commercial property. Mary worked for many years as an antiquarian bookdealer for the prestigious firm of Bernard Quaritch Ltd in London

Why a bookshop? What made you want to get into bookselling?

Who could resist the opportunity to run a bookshop in a beautiful seaside town. It meant we could bring up our family in the country. We haven’t regretted it for a minute in the last 21 years

General background/history of the shop please

So, as I said, the shop was founded in 1949. Several of the previous retired owners lived in Aldeburgh when we first arrived so we enjoyed hearing about their very different experiences of running a bookshop. One couple didn’t have any bookshelves and the books were piled high. If you wanted a book from the bottom of the pile, you risked toppling the whole lot.

We installed a stock control system—first a notebook by the till, and then eventually the full Bertline system. I remember one of our customers saying how worried they were about our digital system and the beep of the scanner would ruin the atmosphere.

In 2006 we won the Nibbie for Best Independent Bookshop, which was a huge honour.

In 2001 we started the Aldeburgh Literary Festival which usually takes place on the first weekend of March. We managed to stage it last year. This year we have had to postpone it and are considering doing it in September. This will be our 20th Festival and we have had an outstanding array of speakers including Two Nobel Literature Prize Winners.

We have a Bookshop Book Club which meets once a month, currently on Zoom. We’ve been going about 7 years now.

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

We have a general stock—with an emphasis on fiction, biography and history which are our favourite genres. We do have a specialised music section as Aldeburgh was home to Benjamin Britten

Do you mainly sell new or second-hand books?

All new. Hardly any second hand. Although we do help customers source second hand titles.

What makes your bookshop special?

Our selection. Our enthusiasm. Our recommendations. Our customers. All our staff are keen readers.

What’s the hardest thing about being a bookseller?

Not having enough time to read all the books.

What’s the best thing about being a bookseller?

Having to read books as part of our job and the opportunities to discuss those books with our customers

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

That there’s always some new book or topic—publications are often surprising.

What are the goals for your bookshop?

To maintain our very high standards. We feel that every book in the shop is there for a reason.

Do you think owning a bookshop has changed your life? How?

We were in our late 30s when we bought the shop and we both feel that it has enriched our lives.

What little-known book do you think is underrated?

Both John and I have books we love and press on our customers. John’s is the Transylvanian Trilogy by Miklos Banffy. Mine is This Thing of Darkness by Harry Thompson.

What well-known book do you think is overrated?

I don’t want to answer that question in case the author comes on holiday to Aldeburgh …

What is your preferred reading genre?

For me, fiction and biography. I was a judge of the Biography section of the Whitbread (now Costa) several years ago and that was a terrific undertaking. John reads more history and non-fiction.

Describe your store in three words.

Full, interesting, friendly

What book is your greatest treasure? Why?

Our illustrated thank you letter from Posy Simmonds after attending our Literary Festival

What was your favourite childhood book? Why?

Mine was The Once and Future King by T. H. White
John’s was Gerald Durrell My Family and Other Animals and Just William

Michael Frayn

Michael Frayn

If you could invite any author for a book signing at your shop, who would you choose?

We are fortunate in being able to invite many of our literary heroes to our Literary Festival—so we’ve had Ian McEwan, Julian Barnes, Margaret Drabble, Harold Pinter, Alan Bennett, Peter Shaffer. We have been so lucky.

Where do you think the biggest change in book publishing will come from?

Hard to say, but we did predict that the rise of E-readers, Kindles and Kobus would be limited. I also think there is so much goodwill and love for bookshops and that the death of the High Street is not on the cards

How do you reach potential readers/customers?

As well as footfall, we make quite extensive use of email newsletters, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram

How do you choose the books you stock?
If it looks interesting, whether it’s the new Ishiguro, a history of table manners (Scoff by Pen Vogler) or a book on dry stone walls.

Do you have a favourite publisher? Why?

We loved Leonard and Hungry Paul by Ronan Hession so a big shout out for Bluemoose Books

Name three books on your TBR.

The new Katherine Heiny (we loved Standard Deviation), Fall by John Preston about Robert Maxwell, and I am intrigued by the novel Brood by Jacki Polzin

What are you reading at the moment?

Just finished Weather and Dept of Speculation by Jenny Offil

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

There’s a book for everyone

What music, if any, do you play in your shop? Why?

We don’t

What is the best book-related gift you’ve ever received?

The Faber life-size cardboard cut out cow to promote the Secret Life of Cows has been very useful and we’ve even incorporated it into your website logo. For no particular reason.

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

One Saturday afternoon we were rung by a customer wanting us to look up the answer to their crossword clue in the reference section. That was before widespread use of Google.

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

Nothing is normal at the moment with Lockdown still in place, but a day is usually a mixture of helping customers, recommending books, wrapping parcels, ordering books with reps and unpacking lots and lots of boxes.

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

A customer once told us they heard some children skipping down the street in a nearby town shouting out the things they loved and one called out ’The Aldeburgh Bookshop’

One of our special features is our range of beautiful canvas tote bags. Customers take or send the bags all over the world and we mark on a world map where the bags have gone to

Fab Four with Aldeburgh Bookshop Bag

Fab Four with Aldeburgh Bookshop Bag


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.

Tales on Market Street, Faversham

I’ve only ever been to Faversham once, but I loved the market place and the quirky docks, yes docks. It always deserved a bookshop, and here we have a bookshop that tops it all…

Tales on Market Street
1&2, Market St
Faversham
ME13 7AH
Telephone: 01795 227071

Website: https://www.top-hatandtales.co.uk/
Twitter: @TopHatandTales
Facebook: @TopHatandTalesFaversham
Instagram: @faversham_hat_shop

In their own words

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

I already sold hats and then decided to sell books, I was attending the London Book Fair and it came in a flash: Top Hat & Tales

Who are you? Owns the bookshop?

I am a single mum, unrealised philosopher, unrealised architect, struggling retailer & unexpected successful bookseller(it seems), I love everything and realise there’s not enough time for it all, I wild swim, (in the rain if I can), cycle, read, dream and work hard to make a living.

Why a bookshop? What made you want to get into bookselling?

My hat shop was off the beaten track so I was looking for a product that wasn’t being sold elsewhere in our town, the idea of books came to mind and I took the plunge!

General background/history of the shop please

I have had the shop for 10 years and had a lot of fun selling hats. I began selling second hand goods alongside the hats but after 4 years trawling boot fairs and second hand stores I finally became straight retail complementing the hats with fair-trade clothes, accessories and gifts. In my first year of having the shop I started a Hat Festival which has become a real part of the annual community calendar.

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

We stock a variety go genres.

Do you mainly sell new or second-hand books?

New books.

What makes your bookshop special?

You need to visit it to discover the answer to this.

What’s the hardest thing about being a bookseller?

It’s a BIG job….curating, displaying, marketing, reading, selling books…..it’s never ending!

What’s the best thing about being a bookseller?

The customers, they are so lovely, so appreciative, so are hat customers but with book customers you build relationships which you value and they return for their next book, if you hold on to your hat…..you don’t need to keep buying more!

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

That I didn’t realise I would enjoy it so much.

What are the goals for your bookshop?

I want to expand, the plans are in place, just in the process of executing them.

Do you think owning a bookshop has changed your life? How?

It has most definitely, suddenly I am doing something that fulfills me creatively as well as intellectually, I couldn’t of hoped for such job satisfaction at this late point in my working life.

What is your preferred reading genre?

Fiction but also like books on contemporary thought.

Describe your store in three words.

Unique, quirky & fun

What book is your greatest treasure? Why?

The Paper Garden, by Molly Peacock, it is beautifully written and tells the story about a woman who found her life’s work late in life, Mary Delany became an artist at the age of 72!

What was your favourite childhood book? Why?

The Treasury of Poetry, I loved the book from a child, the illustrations and the poems, especially The Jumblies by Edward Lear.

If you could invite any author for a book signing at your shop, who would you choose?

Amor Towles, I like to meet the mind that imagined Count Rostov.

Where do you think the biggest change in book publishing will come from?

I’m really not sure.

How do you reach potential readers/customers?

My website and social media out reach.

How do you choose the books you stock?

That’s impossible to answer but partly I think about what I would like to read and what I think my customers would like to read too.

Do you have a favourite publisher? Why?

Not really.

Name three books on your TBR.

Girl A by Abigail Dean, An Unquiet Heart by Martin Sixsmith and Light Perpetual by Francis Spufford

What are you reading at the moment?

Luckenbooth by Jenni Fagan

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

That people DO read books.

What music, if any, do you play in your shop? Why?

I play a mixture of swing Jazz, folk and Americana and I often put on French Cafe music and imagine my shop is in Paris, I love it when people dance, we often do.

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

A packet of cigarettes!!!!

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

I clean, tidy, place orders, sell, answer emails, chat to customers and occasionally fit in a dance.

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

‘You have a lovely shop, whoever chooses the books has got it just right’.


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.