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Our Favourite Indie Bookshops

 

It’s Independent Bookshop Week 2020, and we wanted to celebrate and support all of our amazing independent bookshops!

We’ve asked the team to write a few words on their favourite indies – please excuse the gushing, we just really love bookshops…

 

“As a publicist I am fortunate enough to have worked with some of the very best bookshops in the business on a range of amazing events which makes it almost impossible to choose a favourite. So I’m keeping it in the family and picking the INCREDIBLE Charlie Byrne’s Bookshop in Galway as my favourite shop.  But I know I’d be in love with labyrinthian, sprawling, brilliance of the place even if it wasn’t run by my cousin! It’s the perfect bookshop to lose an afternoon in – packed full of knowledgeable, excellent staff. I can’t wait to revisit.

During lockdown I’ve also made some purchases from some stores I’ve yet to visit: Category Is – an amazing queer bookshop in Glasgow and the brilliant BookLove who are a travelling multicultural book carnival who sent the most beautiful package of books to me tied up with recycled fabric.”

Lizz Skelly, PR

Charlie Byrne’s Bookshop: Website / Twitter
Category Is: Website / Twitter
BookLove: Website

 

The Blue Bear Bookshop in Farnham is a wonderful independent bookshop that in spectacular timing opened its doors only a few months before COVID hit. Even so, before the doors shut I was able to browse the shelves of beautifully displayed books (many face out to look doubly appealing). The café is a very central part to the shop, and in fact there is a large table where people can sit and read, drink coffee, sample delicious cake… A lovely and welcome addition to the town centre and I so hope the doors will open again…”

Emma Matthewson, Editorial

The Blue Bear Bookshop: Twitter

 

“Where I grew up there was a real scarcity of indie bookshops, and whilst I love a Waterstones, there’s something so special about a local bookshop (I realise this is super weird but I swear books smell different there). I’m now super lucky to live just by Clapham Books, a gorgeous little shop right that overlooks the Common and is packed with brilliant books and lovely booksellers keen to chat and give recommendations. I’m also a big fan of Tales on Moon Lane and the work their team does – being a dedicated children’s bookshop gives it such a fun vibe, and even for grown-ups it’s a great visit. They also have an amazing events programme which I hope manages to get back up and running soon!”

Emma Quick, Marketing

Clapham Books: Website / Twitter 
Tales on Moon Lane: Website / Twitter 

 

“Located in the picturesque village of Alfriston, East Sussex, Much Ado Books is a haven – and a heaven – for booklovers. Packed full of new books, old books, collectibles and curios it is a delight to spend time in this independent bookshop. The fantastic staff also host events and workshops featuring top authors and creatives. I for one cannot wait to visit again!”

Frankie Jones, Editorial

Much Ado Books: Website / Twitter

 

“I want to use this opportunity to shout about some of the wonderful Black-owned indie bookshops we have in London, so here is a small list: Round Table Books (from the amazing Knights Of), No Ordinary Book Shop, New Beacon Books, Sevenoaks Books, BookLove (they travel!) and Jacaranda Books (also an independent publisher). Of course there are so many more than I have been able to mention here, but I want to encourage everyone to go and find them and show them some love!”

Isobel Taylor, Marketing

Round Table Books: Website / Twitter 
No Ordinary Book Shop: Website / Twitter
New Beacon Books: Website / Twitter
Sevenoaks Books: Website / Twitter
BookLove: Website
Jacaranda Books: Website / Twitter 

 

Books on the Hill in St Albans is a new gem that looks as if it’s been there forever, in the best possible way. It has a carefully curated selection of new, second-hand, antiquarian and rare books and its delightful nooks and crannies are filled with interesting and surprising knick-knacks as well as books. It’s always a joy to spend both time and money in there, swapping recommendations with the staff and often other customers, and I was so happy to go back last week to collect my lockdown orders – as always I also came out with something I’d never heard of. There are armchairs in the back facing a real stove fire in winter and a fresh bowl of water for dogs just outside.”

Talya Baker, Editorial

Books on the Hill: Website / Twitter

 

Linghams in the Wirral, run by the fabulous Sue and Mike, is one of the bookshops I love.

A community hub would be putting it lightly. With welcoming and insightful staff and shop layout, a brilliant café that does a great toastie and countless events in store and out in the wider community; Linghams is more than just a bookshop – it’s a booklovers dream.”

Molly Holt, PR

Linghams: Website / Twitter

 

“In pre-lockdown life I loved to visit Newham Bookshop for a browse because they somehow always have what you are looking for as well as lots of new temptations. It has the air of a well-stocked second-hand bookshop but with all-new books!

During lockdown I’ve ordered a few books from Pages of Hackney (a brilliantly curated bookshop with so many excellent books in a small space) directly, having been tempted from their Instagram. They regularly feature a handful of books they have available on their stories with a short tempting, personal blurb.

Extra special points go to Phlox in Leyton, who got a very quick sale from me when they posted on Instagram that they’d got in a box of Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge and offered free local delivery on bike. I paid online in the afternoon and it turned up at my door, hand-delivered, that evening. What service!”

Jenny Jacoby, Editorial

Newham Bookshop: Website / Twitter
Pages of Hackney: Website / Twitter
Phlox: Website / Twitter

 

“The first time I entered Barter Books I was instantly transported back to being a child. The converted railway station is a stunning local treasure and with a train track running along the tops of the bookshelves, the cosy fires and armchairs you instantly want to grab a book and cosy up in its warm glow. This independent is so much more than a store – it is an experience, one that I treasure until the next time I get to go back and peruse the shelves. It also always amazes me the history that stemmed from one store with the global phenomena of the Keep Calm and Carry On poster that made its way from a dusty box in the store to across the globe. And if that isn’t enough the welsh rarebit in their café is well worth a try!!”

Amy Llambias, Marketing

Barter Books: Website

 

Dulwich Books in West Dulwich, my lovely local bookshop. Its owner Cathy Slater is such a friendly face with enormous expertise, always ready with recommendations and to order books that they don’t have in stock for collection as soon as possible. The selection of books crammed into this little space is diverse and surprising and I always spend far too much time in particular in the really delightful children’s section.”

Georgia Murray, Editorial

Dulwich Books: Website / Twitter

 

So that’s some of our favourite Independent Bookshops, but we want to hear more about yours! Show your indie some love by shouting about them in a tweet this week and tag @HotKeyBooksYA, @booksaremybag and use the hashtag #IndieBookshopWeek to let us know all about your favourite Independent Bookshop!