Indie Advent Index of Posts
Dec 1st - Jim on Big Green Bookshop, Wood Green
Dec 2nd - Dom Conley on Ebb and Flo, Chorley
Dec 3rd - Andrew on Just Imagine, Chelmsford
Dec 4th - Alice on Village Books, Dulwich
Dec 5th - Jim on Dulwich Books
Dec 6th - Sarah Benwell on Mr B's Reading Emporium, Bath
Dec 7th - Green rocinante on Pages of Hackney
Dec 8th - Katy Moran on Aardvark Books, Bucknell.
Dec 9th - Louie Stowell on Stoke Newington Bookshop
Dec 10th - Georgia on The Bookseller Crow, Crystal Palace
Dec 11th - Eleanor Wood on City Books, Brighton and Hove
Dec 12th - Anne-Marie on Mostly Books, Abingdon
Dec 13th - Liesl Jobson on The Book Lounge, Cape Town
Dec 14th - Melinda Salisbury on Shakespeare and Co, Paris
Dec 15th - Maggie Harcourt on Toppings, Bath
Dec 16th - Erica on Gay's The World, Bloomsbury
Dec 17th - Jean Lambert on Camden Lock Books, Old Street Station
Dec 18th - Merv on Booka, Oswestry
Dec 19th - Michelle on Astley Book Farm
Dec 20th - Luna on Storytellers Inc, St Annes-on-Sea
Dec 21st - Sarwat Chadda on Tales on Moon Lane, Herne Hill
Dec 22nd - Kirsty on Gullivers Bookshop, Wimborne
Dec 23rd - Karen on Brick Lane Bookshop
Dec 24th - Charlie on The Book House, Thame
Why I Chose To Run Indie Advent
I've been living near London, going in three or four times a week, for just over 12 months now. There have been numerous wonderful benefits of moving down here - the chief one being the amount of fantastic friends I've made, many of them people involved in the book world - but one of the best things of all has been rediscovering my love of bookshops.
Both of the places I'd lived between leaving university and moving here had a fairly small Waterstones and The Works, and that was it as far as bookshops went. It hasn't always been the case - growing up in the late 80s I remember there being some great bookshops around, for example. But there have been so many closures over the last 20 years that I'd ended up falling into the habit of shopping on Amazon almost by default.
Then I came down to London, found some fabulous bookshops - mainly the ones on Charing Cross Road to start off with, then a few further afield via some great recommendations like Daniel Dalton's brilliant list of 14 beautiful independent bookshops in London, Stacey's A Tour Of London Bookshops feature, and Erica's fabulous blog.
I also overcame my fear of actually speaking people and managed to start talking to booksellers in person (admittedly normally only if I knew them online before or was introduced to them by someone, but you have to start SOMEWHERE.) I think Kate Lock, back when she was working in Foyles, may have been the first one I knowingly talked to in person; she introduced me to Jen - then of Foyles, now of Tales On Moon Lane - and since then I've got to know quite a few others, including Jo at Foyles, Tim and Simon at The Big GreenBookshop, and recently finally met Laura at Waterstones Piccadilly.
Getting to know these people has naturally involved lots of asking for recommendations, which has led me to discover that - not so surprisingly - booksellers tend to be REALLY GOOD at their job. (In some cases too good for my bank balance, I poked my head into Waterstones earlier today with the specific intention of looking for one particular book and leaving immediately if they didn't have it; three minutes later Laura had convinced me to buy something I'd never heard of. Admittedly it DOES look fantastic; thanks Laura!) Yes, Amazon can undercut bookshops and run some good offers, but there's nothing like getting brilliant, personalised recommendations from a specialist with a great knowledge of what they're selling.
Sadly, as mentioned earlier, the closures are still happening. Richmond lost The Lion and Unicorn last year - I'm really disappointed that I never made it there (although delighted to hear that some of the people involved are opening up The Alligator's Mouth very soon, also in Richmond, apparently!) Clapham recently said goodbye to another specialist children's shop, Under The Greenwood Tree, which I did visit a few times and adored.
So I thought it might be nice to run a feature sharing people's love for indie bookshops, sounded out a couple of people on Twitter, and #IndieAdvent was born. In the run up to Christmas I'll have guest posts from bloggers, authors, and others about their favourite bookshops, why they love them, and what books they're planning on buying from them this Christmas as presents.