Celebrate Our Great British Bookstores

 I don’t know about you but I could quite happily spend a whole blissful afternoon soaking up the atmosphere of my local bookstore, perusing row after row of bookish delights, intrigued and drawn in by their colorful and mysterious spines. Make this my local independent bookshop and I’m in ecstasy. So when I was randomly channel hoping last night and I came across a piece on the BBC about the decline of book stores in the UK my restless finger immediately stopped flicking between channels and rested on something that really did shock me.

According to statistics represented on the BBC the number of bookshops in the UK is decreasing. The number of outlets holding memberships with the Booksellers Association has gone down from 4495 in 2006 to 3683, independent bookstores have dropped from 1483 to 1099. And whilst 50 new independent bookshops opened last year 72 closed. Imagine all of those unique and wonderful bookstores opening, full of hope and book love, only to close down and at such a rapid rate.

As someone who values and loves my local bookstores I was disturbed by these facts, Imagine not having your favorite Waterstone’s just waiting for you in your local city centre? Or worst still that second-hand bookshop that you know you can always rely on for it’s uniqueness and charm, suddenly no longer being there?

Sure we could download them to our kindles or do some online shopping, but is that really the same? In fact e books are being blamed for this steady decline with many suggesting that their rapid and ever-growing popularity is detrimental to the success of our bookshops. Online shopping and quick downloading is great but can you talk to someone about your excitement at starting your new purchase? Can you get first hand knowledge from experienced staff just as enthusiastic as you?

So today’s post is really very simple, I want you all to join me in celebrating the important retailers who make up Britain’s bookstores. I want to hear your favorite haunts for book shopping and I want to know why they are so special to you.

Leave a comment or better still post your ideas on your own blog and be sure to leave a link. . With bookstores in the UK declining I think it’s more important than ever to remember, acknowledge, and support those dearest to us.

So tell me;

1. Your favorite independent bookshop and why

2. Your favorite high street book store and why

And here are my answers;

1. My favorite independent bookshop is Barter books in Alnwick, Northumberland. Sadly this store is no longer on my doorstep as it once was but that doesn’t stop me from religiously visiting it every time I go home. It looks like I’m not the only one either, Polly from Novel Insights also seems a fan. You can’t blame people from falling in love with this place, from the moment you walk in and are greeted by a real log fire to the isles and isles of delectable books. There’s a working toy train whizzing around high above your heads, a mural of all great writers, it’s a treasure chest of reading delights.

The concept is unique too, you take in your old books, they tot up the value, add it to your own personal card and then you simply pick books and swap them. I can remember more than one occasion when a helpful member of staff has taken great pains to source a book I really wanted but couldn’t find, one kind man even chased me out waving a copy of The Godfather that he had managed to salvage much to my delight.

2. My favorite high street bookstore is Waterstones on Deansgate, not only are the

Waterstone's host many great literary events

staff helpful and passionate about their books, the shop is also special in that it regularly plays host to a number of great literary events like the wonderful  literary saloon Bookmarked as hosted by Savidge reads. The shop has a roomy, open feel about it and I would easily feel comfortable in taking a seat and spending as much time as I needed to check through my selections to make sure I was making the right choices, that comfort and ease in a bookstore is important to me and it’s something you just don’t with a faceless online supplier.

So do get in touch, I’d love you all to celebrate with me the important bookstores that we all love and enjoy across the UK and I’d love to hear your thoughts on the above statistic. Do they concern or sadden you? Or perhaps they don’t bother you at all? Get in touch.

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6 thoughts on “Celebrate Our Great British Bookstores

  1. High Street Bookstore is Waterstones in Portsmouth. They are great in there, and always help me out whilst I struggle to carry round all my choices whilst browsing. I am sure their eyes light up when I walk in. They have a good selection, and it is not over run by the Costa that is in there, so all the more good.

    I hope the new owner does not change things too much.

    I read the same article as you and was shocked but then not. I have a kindle, I order off the internet, but no matter what I tend to do these things mainly due to cost, I love a bookshop and have not really got many independent ones near me, Petersfield is the nearest oh and Hayling Island, but still quite a distance to eat up the petrol. It is all about costs I feel at the moment.

    Nothing beats holding a real book in your hand!

    • Thanks for letting me know your favorite store Jo : )

      It’s true that prices are probably a huge factor in the decline of our bookstores, you can get things very cheap online or on your kindle. I’ll admit I struggle sometimes to pay full whack which is probably why I prefer independent bookstores as they can be a bit cheaper.

      That all said I will now try and support my local stores more now after reading this article, I just hate the idea of no more bookshops. I don’t know where I would escape too.

  2. Well said!

    I haven’t been in a chain bookshop for ages – the nearest is 45 minutes away – but we have a wonderful independent – Books Plus, which you will find on The Terrace in Penzance. When I find a job and can go shopping for new books again I’ll definitely be spending money there.

    • Thanks Fleur for showing your support : ) Sounds like a wonderful shop, I do love a good independant book store, they always have so much personality. Hope it’s not too long before you can do some serious shopping there again.

  3. My answers are very disapointing I’m afraid: I don’t have a favourite independent bookshop 😦 When I’m looking for second hand books I tend to look in Barnados or on Amazon. That’s bad isn’t it? If people recommend shops in Manchester I’ll give them a go. From sheer laziness my favorite high street book store is Waterstones in the Arndale – Simply because it’s convenient.

    I told you my answers were boring. 😦

    On the plus side – Since buying a Kindle I’ve spent more money on real hardback and paperback books (ironic?) – sooooo, I’m doing more to support bookshops now than I ever did before…

    • Don’t be silly there good answers. I’m interested in a wide variety of answers that reflect what people really think of UK bookstores and how much they use them etc….

      It’s interesting that you buy more hardbacks now that you have the kindle, do you think it’s because you like having nice books you can keep? Barnado’s are good for books, so is the Oxfam in the Northern Quarter, they always have a good selection and they put their own little cards next to them with mini reviews.

      Arndale Waterstone’s is more convenient for me but if I can bothered to venture to Deansgate I think there store is superior.

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