10 Reasons I Love Bookshops
1. Browsing is brilliant! One of the joys of a well-stocked bookshop is that you can alight on something that you didn't know you wanted - as summed up so brilliantly in 2014 by Mark Forsyth in his IBW essay, The Unknown Unknown. I have lost count of the amount of times I've found books I wasn't aware of - particularly ones that predated the start of my blogging - and loved them.
2. They're so well curated. Obviously having a great amount of choices is awesome, but can be overwhelming. However in the vast majority of bookshops I visit most often I KNOW that the books there are going to be worth reading.
3. The staff are incredibly well-informed. Tying into the above, if I visit any of my favourite bookshops I know that I'm bound to be able to get a recommendation for a book from one of the super-knowledgeable staff there. I've been hand-sold some amazing books which would have completely passed me by without a bookseller's enthusiastic support of them persuading me to take a chance on them.
4. You get instant gratification. Look, I have issues with patience. Yes, I can order a book online, and get it a few days later - often banged up in the post (which to be fair is more an issue with my post than with any supplier!) But if I walk into a bookshop, I can buy a book, check it's in pristine condition before paying for it, and then start reading right away.
5. You can try before you buy. Yes, I know you can often read the first chapter of a book online before ordering, but that's so limiting! In a bookshop you can flick through a book and immediately
6. Lots of them have exciting events! I love book launches, and I love discussion panels. I've been to so many wonderful events at various bookshops - from last night's #ThisIsWhoIAm at Waterstones Piccadilly, featuring an all-star lineup of Harriet Reuter Hapgood, Leila Sales, Sarra Manning and Sarah Crossan - to Jasper Fforde's hilarious talk at the Big Green Bookshop, and Carolina Rabei's 'Design a Christmas card' event at Tales on Moon Lane 18 months ago.
7. Many of them partner with fantastic festivals. Tying into the above point, as well as events in the shops themselves, lots of indies work incredibly hard as partners with fabulous festivals. Looking at STREAM, which Tales on Moon Lane is the partner bookshop for, The Oswestry Lit Fest - whose festival director is Carrie Morris of the superb Booka Bookshop - and so many more, they're an incredible way of uniting authors and readers.
8. They often include somewhere to get a drink! From gorgeous cafes like the one at All You Read Is Love (which I still haven't actually got to, but hope to soon) to bars like Waterstones Piccadilly's 5th View, it's amazing to be able to buy a book then immediately sit down and read it - or to meet up with a friend and grab sustenance before a busy hour or two selecting books!
9. The best of them have an incredible sense of community - look at the response to the horrible theft of money from The Big Green Bookshop, as people near and far rallied around to contribute to crowdfunding to replace the money stolen.
10. Finally, book people are the BEST people! Booksellers, readers, and the people working for incredible organisations like Book Tokens and Books Are My Bag are all completely awesome - and bookshops are a great place to meet like-minded people.
I am INCREDIBLY excited for the fabulous Independent Bookshop Week 2016, coming from 18th - 25th June. Indie Bound UK and Books Are My Bag do an amazing job organising this and I'm really looking forward to going to events - the Pointless one at Foyles Charing Cross Road sounds especially amazing - and doing the Bookshop Crawl on 25th! Will you be taking part? I hope so!