Monday, December 17, 2007

Independent bookseller

Financial considerations aside, the independent bookseller (IB from now on) must be nurtured, supported, encouraged and cherished. I buy too many books, and admittedly not all from IBs. The giant Amazon does prove irrestistible now and then, but wherever possible I go for used books from the smaller online people. Our local libraries are terrific and a good place to read before buying; that way everyone wins. (I felt so guilty when Richard Mabey told me that he only received pence from library loans, that I bought "Nature Cure" immediately, and it is now one of my favourite books with bookmarks, real one's, not web, stuck throughout.

However, for a bibliophile, not only is it bliss to browse in a real shop, but it feels like "a good thing to do", along with recycling the rubbish and helping old ladies cross the street.

Good indies in Sussex are:

City Books, Western Road, Hove near our studio flat. Inge and Paul, the owners are somewhat ubiquitious in Sussex as not only do they have a great shop, but they run book themed talks by all the best authors in The Old Market, Hove and also provide the bookstalls at all the reputable festivals nearby, such as Brighton, Charleston and Lewes. They are unusual in that they offer discounts, and have a good loyalty card.

Much Ado Books in Alfriston has a great reputation and won The Independent Bookseller of the Year Award in 2007. (They also bake fabulous cookies, but that is privileged knowledge.)

In and around our Oxfordshire cottage:

Warwick Books, in, yes you guessed, in Warwick is a recent find and looks well up to scratch. My friends say they are very helpful and it certainly looked a well arranged shop.

Jaffe and Neale in Chipping Norton is delightful, and apart from shelves with their recommendations there is a pleasant cafe area. They also have an online service

Old Hall Bookshop in Brackley (Northants) is also a good place for new books, as well as a large, well organised second-hand department and high quality antiquarian books. They also support our King's Sutton Literary Festival

The giant retailers stress the importance of a good shopping experience. I would challenge them and say that it would be impossible to beat the IBs for their enthusiasm, efficiency, and devotion to their reading customers.

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