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.

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.

Golden Hare Books, Edinburgh

Contact:

68 St Stephen St
Stockbridge
Edinburgh
EH3 5AQ
Telephone: 0131 225 7755
Website: https://goldenharebooks.com/
Twitter: @GoldenHareBooks
Instagram: @goldenharebooks
Facebook: @GoldenHareBooks

I’ve family that live on St Stephen Street, so it was brilliant when an independent bookshop opened there, and it’s been wonderful watching it develop over the years.

Just down from the centre of Edinburgh in the bustling Stockbridge area, Golden Hare Books has three beautifully decorated rooms full of wonderfully curated books across a large range of genres, but I really notice the independent publishers that they champion.

I have forgiven them for introducing me to Charco Press

Always a great welcome and perfect service and this also comes across in their social media which is well worth a follow.

Looking forward to visiting when I get back up to Edinburgh in June (2021).


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 Book Lounge, Kirby Lonsdale

The Book Counter

The Book Counter

The Book Lounge in Kirby Lonsdale sells new and good quality recycled books, both fiction & non-fiction.

They also support quite a number of local authors and stock their books which is always nice to see and encouraging, you can find out more information about the authors they support on their website.

The Book Lounge
12 Main Street
Kirkby Lonsdale
Carnforth
Cumbria
LA6 2AE
Tel: 015242 72319

Website: https://thebooklounge.shop
Online store: https://the-book-lounge.square.site/
Facebook: @TheBookLoungeKirkby
Twitter: @The_Book_Lounge

How did you come up with the name of your bookshop?
My husband came up with the name, The Book Lounge, which sums up exactly what the shop is. Comfy seating in front of a fire with barista made fresh coffee and homemade cake, a perfect place to spend time browsing the shelves in an atmosphere like home.

Why a bookshop? What made you want to get into bookselling?
I was a high school librarian for 13 years achieving cilip chartership in October 2013 and then taking redundancy in July 2018. Opening a bookshop seemed like a good alternative to running a library where I can still be involved with schools organising author events.

Do you sell mainly new or second-hand books?
I started by selling second-hand books only as I didn’t feel I could compete with the other large booksellers, but over the last 18 months I have started to build up a stock of new books and have recently become a member of the Booksellers Association and now sell and redeem National Book Tokens. I also sell a wide range of book themed gifts and am always looking out for new bookish gifts.

The Book Lounge

The Book Lounge

What is your favourite childhood book?
My favourite childhood book was What Katy Did by Susan Coolidge, I read all three in the series and couldn’t put them down. These books were the first books that I had enjoyed reading and started my love of books.

What is the nicest thing a customer has ever said to you?
This is a difficult one, I am regularly told how lovely my shop is with the quirky book counter, stairs and clock but I love it when they say that I am living their dream.

If you’re a bookshop who would like to be involved in this series please read Browse A Bookshop and email your answers and images to contact@indiebookshops.com


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.

Cogito Books, Hexham

Today we have been blogging about Indie Bookshops for a year and it’s appropriate that the Browse a Bookshop feature is for a bookshop I’ve only visited three times but have loved every time I’ve been in, Cogito Books in Hexham is a short detour from my usual route up to Edinburgh and is always worth a visit.

5 St Mary’s Chare,
Hexham,
Northumberland,
NE46 1NQ
Tel: 01434 602555

Website: https://www.cogitobooks.com
Twitter: @CogitoBooks
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CogitoBooks/

How did you come up with the name of your bookshop?
As people step over the threshold, we often get asked about where the name of our bookshop comes from. The name ‘Cogito’ is taken from Rene Descartes’ ‘Cogito ergo sum: I think therefore I am’. His philosophy seems to fit well alongside our idea of creating an Independent Bookshop for Independent Minds; a place where people can linger, browse and discover our unique selection of books.

General background – history of the shop
Claire’s dad, Alan, opened the bookshop in May 2001 in a small upstairs premise in Hexham. A change of location swiftly followed, when the chain Ottakar’s suddenly moved into the town 18 months later. From our new space we have not looked back. Helped by both Claire and also his wife, Julia, Alan turned the shop into a real landmark in the local community – a place where people could be sure of finding a warm welcome and the right book for them. Author events became a regular treat, with literary lunches and crime suppers, and the shop also became the official bookseller for the Hexham Book Festival, a major event each year for the town. Since Alan retired in 2012, Claire runs the shop with help from a great team of booksellers Hilary, Mandy and Alice (and several others over the years!). It continues to be a focal point for the community, a place of discovery and bookish chat for all.

What makes your bookshop special?
We’re very proud of the welcoming ambience that we’ve created at the bookshop, our careful curation of books and the personal connection that we forge with our customers. The bookshop is a very friendly space where both adults and children can (and do!) browse for hours, join in storytelling, book groups and activities. We stock a whole range of contemporary and classic fiction as well as an eclectic range of non-fiction for all ages. Personal attention for each and every customer is very important to us. It’s a great feeling when you find just the right book for someone, and that’s what drives us! We developed the Cogito Reading Treat as an extension of this – a bespoke consultation in which we personally recommend six new books for the lucky recipient that will hopefully become some of their favourites (and yes, tea and biscuits are involved too!).

What’s the best thing about being a bookseller?
There are so many! For us, one of the biggest highlights is talking to customers about books – the bookshop is a place where some wonderful conversations are sparked around books and reading, and recommendations are shared. Being an independent bookshop gives us the freedom to stock a huge variety of titles, and we’re always on the lookout for new and interesting reads that we think our customers will enjoy. It’s certainly inspiring being surrounded by books all day, and we, as well as our customers, are continuously inspired to try new things.

What little-known book do you think is underrated?
The Priory by Dorothy Whipple is a wonderful read. It was recommended to me by my colleague Hilary and between us we have introduced many customers to Dorothy Whipple’s brilliant novels. It’s published by Persephone Books, who reissue neglected writing, mainly by women, from the last century – there are some real gems! Here’s Hilary’s review:

The novel ostensibly tells the story of the Marwoods – an ancient country family fallen on hard times and prey to delicious eccentricity – initially in a similar vein to Nancy Mitford’s ‘The Pursuit of Love’. However, Dorothy Whipple is able to take a much more dispassionate view of the behaviour of this and other social classes. She cleverly interweaves the lives of the family with an interesting array of characters from the ‘outside’ world, revealing the backdrop of social change as the characters motives for their actions are examined. Servants, lovers, self-made men and women all appear as brilliantly complex characters as their relationships with the Marwoods are described in the author’s beautifully clear lucid prose. Dorothy Whipple is particularly good at describing life’s small disappointments, humiliations and frustrations which we all experience and must all overcome using the whatever means are allowed to us. Above all, the gently subversive tone and dryly humorous style make this novel a complete joy to read.

Name three books on your TBR
I have several tottering piles beside my bed but the top three on the nearest pile are, Austen At Home by Lucy Worsley, Lowborn by Kerry Hudson, and Island Song by Madeleine Bunting.


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 Stripey Badger, Grassington

This month’s featured bookshop is a lovely little bookshop in North Yorkshire, near Skipton. It also has a cafe attached which looks so comfortable and tasty. So if you’re ever near Harrogate or Skipton this would always be worth a visit.

7 The Square,
Grassington,
Skipton
BD23 5AQ
Tel: 01756 753583

Website: www.thestripeybadger.co.uk
Twitter: @stripeybadgers
Facebook: @thestripeybadger

In their own words…

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

Wind in the Willows is one of our best loved books from childhood, with a fondness for Mr Badger. Originally, the name did not go down too well with other partners, so a suggested ‘working title’ was agreed. And, of course, the name stuck. But honestly we could see the fun we could have with the logo, especially with a great artist friend who got caught up with the idea. We now have Stripey Badger mugs, notelets, cards and tote bags!

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

The bookshop is owned by mother and son Linda and James and the next door cafe by sister Jackie. Mum Linda has always wanted to work in a bookshop, and when the family moved back home to the Yorkshire Dales from Keswick, we searched for a bookshop to work in. But there weren’t any. The only option was to open one and with James home from university, the dream became a reality. With Jackie’s background in catering, the obvious bookshop/cafe combination took off. one year ago in August 2018.

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

We stock a variety of genres but delight in specialising in Science (James’ subject) and customers are getting to know about this and with our range; natural history and travel writing and childrens. All new.

What makes your bookshop special?

I would say that we do not stock thousands of books but that each one has been thought about and personally curated. A review we received this month sums us up “The bookshop is not overly stocked with titles but what it might lack in quantity it makes up with quality. It is exceptionally well-stocked.

What’s the hardest thing about being a bookseller?

The hardest thing about being a bookseller is keeping up with publishers and their imprints. Finding out who publishes which books, POS, offers, discounts etc is a full-time job in itself.

What’s the best thing about being a bookseller?

The best thing is books! Choosing stock and displaying and selling. Seeing someone else loving your choice. Discovering new authors and new books that you would not have thought of and letting your customers know about them.

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

The most surprising thing is that we are now part of an amazing community ! Friendly, supportive, funny, fellow booksellers, associations, wholesale, publishers.

What are the goals for your bookshop?

Our goals are to run a Science Club, Book Club in 2020; have more author events, increase our stock a little, improve our window dressing skills!

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

Our lives have totally changed. We are now part of the village community, each on an event committee; we talk books constantly; read exciting books we would never have dreamt of.

What book do you wish would sell better?

We are surprised that popular fiction books are not bought as regularly as others and it has made us review the books that we buy.

What well-known book do you think is overrated?

Not as much overrated as bought elsewhere with discounts, we find the David Walliams books are talked about by younger customers – but there are amazing children’s books out now.

What little-known book do you think is underrated?

The Snow Child by Ewyn Ivey is the most wonderful book and one that I recommend all the time.

What is your preferred reading genre?

We used to read historical fiction/science but now we don’t have a preferred genre and take delight in reading out of genre and discussing with each other. I didn’t really rate crime fiction as my genre but have read some superb ones now. James was all science but now enjoying fiction such as Washington Black and Whiskey When We’re Dry.

Describe your store in three words.

Welcoming. An Adventure. Ever-changing.

What book is your greatest treasure? Why?

Linda a very old Pears Encyclopedia. James a Planetarium book.

What was your favourite childhood book? Why?

Linda: The Lion the witch & the wardrobe. James:Paddington

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

Michael Palin – for his Monty Python history; his intelligence and warmth and his writing.

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

Audio books will rise in popularity. We would like to see a reduction in hardbacks which don’t sell hardly at all in our shop, unless there is a promotion behind them.

How do you reach potential readers/customers?

We haven’t got a website yet but do use social media and send an e-newsletter.

How do you choose the books you stock?

We read reviews from the press/ Gardners’ catalogues/emails from publishers and reps. Then we discuss between ourselves.

Do you have a favourite publisher? Why?

We love them all! But always look at Nosy Crow and Bodlean.

What are you reading at the moment?

James: Consider Phlebas by Ian Banks. Linda: a proof copy of After The Flood.

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

It’s so much more than selling books! That’s almost the easy part!

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

We don’t have a licence to play music. So, none.

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

Narnia tea!

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

A customer who came in for a gift but said she didn’t want a book.

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

Our building is 400 years old so the first thing we do is dust! Then we re-curate. James re-sorts when he is in the shop and I do the same . Which is strangely not annoying! It keeps us on our toes, refreshes the shop and brings different books into the limelight. It’s an aspect of the shop our customers enjoy – they say the bookshop always looks different each time they come in – which it does!

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

“the village is a much nicer place to live in now that you are here”


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.