Saturday 20 June 2015

Three Cheers for Independent Bookshops!

by Teri Terry

It is Independent Bookshop Week, 20th June - 27th June!

We at Notes from the Slushpile LOVE bookshops in all shapes and sizes. Both as readers and writers, they are an essential part of what we're about. Ordering a book online doesn't give the same thrill as browsing and finding 'the one', and taking it home, and probably reading it on the way.* 
Writers are huge book buyers; we have the power to make a difference. You might think you need to save a little, whether it be time or money. But don't you want that thrill of seeing your own books on the shelves of your local one day? So today is the day for us - and some friends - to tell you about some of our favourites.
*not advised if you are driving

I'm going to start things off with not one, but TWO. 
I've always been a bit greedy.

The Book House, Thame, Oxfordshire - by moi (Teri Terry)

Lovely, inviting children's section
This is my local.I love the quirky shop, the friendly, knowledgeable staff, and it really has one of the BEST children's sections. Plus - the teen section is elsewhere, not cosied up to early readers. This is good. And when I told lovely Luise that we were dropping in - there was a table of our books ready to sign when we got there!

From left - Lee Weatherly, Paula Harrison, Teri Terry

SilverDell Books, Kirkham, Lancashire - also by moi (Teri again)

On the Mind Games tour!
SilverDell Books is Elaine and Sue's baby, and they really know how to run author events. Nothing ever goes wrong: it wouldn't dare!
They've been stuck with me a number of times, from my very first publicity tour - when I was absolutely terrified - and my last one for Mind Games, when I was less so. It really felt like coming home to see them again. I hope I'll be back in Lancashire soon!

Lindum Books, Lincoln - by Addy Farmer

Lindum Books sits on Bailgate in Lincoln's Cathedral Quarter. It's a gem of a bookshop; compact and inviting and run by the knowledgeable and enthusiastic Gill Hart and her team. The books here are CHOSEN for their excellence as well as their ability to sell. No bargains or specials. There's even a room at the top for our SCBWI group to meet. It's more than worth the (often) sweaty climb up Steep Hill to reach it.
(Addy, is that you in the window on their Twitter image?!)

The Children's Bookshop, Muswell Hill, London - by Candy Gourlay

THE Jacqueline Wilson visits The Children's Bookshop
As a young mother, one of my favourite things was to take the latest baby up to Muswell Hill on the 43 bus to visit the Children's Bookshop on Fortis Green Road. I'd read to the toddler at the far end of the little shop, then browse the rows of shelves that displayed only the best and the most wonderful of children's books. Later, I queued with my daughter to meet our idol Jacqueline Wilson, whose ring-laden fingers made a big impression. Years later, as an author, I was amazed to see my own books given prominence on the book cases. The Children's Bookshop opened its doors more than 40 years ago, and its current owner Kate Agnew remembers visiting as a young girl and chatting about books with the then owner Helen Paiba, as blogged here. Kate's mum, Lesley, bought the shop and Kate has now taken over the business - literally taking children by the hand and introducing them to the books and authors they will love forever. Thank you to The Children's Bookshop, you've added joy to many a childhood (and motherhood).

Tackle and Books of Tobermory, Island of Mull, Scotland - by Debi Gliori

Photo by John MacPherson
My favourite indy bookshops tend to be heavily influenced by how welcome I feel crossing their thresholds. So, my choice is always going to be purely subjective and based on emotion rather than the excellence of the bookseller's range of titles or exquisiteness of display. That said, I love the diversity of approaches to bookselling, the influence that the location has on the stock and the general vibrancy and quirkiness of indy shopkeeping. Currently, my all-time favourite is Tackle and Books of Tobermory on the beautiful island of Mull. Duncan Swinbanks is the front-of-house/ owner and is a champion of small presses and indy publishers and lately, of my own Tobermory-based titles, which pass through his capable hands at an unbelievable rate ; who knew there were that many book-loving, cat-adoring, children's-book-purchasing tourists and locals in Tobermory? Duncan is affable, knowledgeable, full of brilliant ideas for more titles he'd like to see written and illustrated, suggestions for the perfect book for the season, the place and its history, and is a fount of many intriguing stories about the island and its people, past and present. One of my happiest moments was arriving in his shop on a freezing November afternoon and being told - quick, get your pen out, we've delayed the ferry back to the mainland so that these tourists could get their books signed! He also organised the absolutely Best Ever launch for The Tobermory Cat and somehow managed to finagle BBC Scotland to come along and film us all launching the book.

Tales on Moon Lane - by Mo O'Hara

Have you seen the new window at Tales on Moon Lane?” You hear that a lot in Herne Hill. Maybe not quite as much as , ‘The trains are delayed.’ Or ‘The cash-point at Sainsbury’s is out again.’ But it’s pretty common all the same. That’s because Tales on Moon Lane, Tamara Macfarlane’s fab independent children’s bookshop in South London, has a reputation for absolutely beautiful and enticing window displays. Currently it’s a Mad Hatter’s Tea!

When I first moved to Herne Hill ( before I even had kids of my own) the window lured me inside to a treasure trove of kids’ books and gifts. Tereze, Leah and the amazingly knowledgeable staff make it a perfect place to shop and to just talk books. One of the best things about Tales on Moon Lane though is their events! My daughter’s first ever Author Event was at TOML with the hilarious Steve Hartley and his giant knickers. And we have been to many, many , many more over the years. Chris Riddell to Judith Kerr, TOML is where the stars come out in Herne Hill! Come and see for yourself!

Formby Books - by Jonathan Mayhew

I remember sitting in the foyer of the high school where I launched my first book, Mortlock, wondering what I’d let myself in for. Tony Higginson came barrelling through the doors with a trolley stacked with boxes. The rest of the morning was a blur of talking, signing, watching enthusiastic children clutching books and Tony’s irrepressible, non-stop banter. Over the years, I’ve watched the storm that’s hit independent bookshops nearly drown poor Tony too but somehow, he’s bounced back. Sadly, his shop, Formby Books is no more but I know Tony will still be promoting the joy reading in the area and a new venture Write Blend, run by writer Bob Stone has opened its doors in nearby Bootle. Good luck to all.

Blackwells, Oxford - by Candy, and me!

Finally, Candy said you must include Blackwells at Oxford. She was very taken with the way they run a book launch: they put together a table of books written by people coming to the book launch! I had my launch for Mind Games there, and this is the photo of books of friends.

Please, please, please: support your local independent bookshop!

Every time you buy a book online, a fairy cries (it's true). Imagine a world where you can't go to lovely places like the ones we've highlighted here today? Where you can't touch and feel and smell new books, and pick up something you've never heard of before that becomes a new favourite - either because it caught your eye, or a bookseller who knows you knows that you'll love it and guides it into your hands? This is one dystopian future that I don't want to contemplate. So go there, and find a new treasure. 
You can find out more about Independent Booksellers Week hereFind your local indy - and IBW events in your area - here.

Think before you click!


  1. What a lovely post. It's always good to be reminded of the wonderful independent bookshops we have and need to support and treasure. Thank you!

    1. Thanks, Helen! We need to add to the list!

    2. I'd like to recommend The Children's Bookshop in Lindley near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire - a fantastic independent children's bookshop - long may it continue!

    3. Hurrah for the Children's Bookshop in Lindley!

  2. Adding the Tobermory bookshop to my must visit list. Love Mr B's Emporium in Bath.

    1. it sounds amazing, doesn't it? It's now on my list, too

  3. And then there's Foyle's in Charing Cross, I could disappear there! Hurrah for Foyle's!

    1. yes, I love Foyles at Charing Cross. I loved the old higgledy piggledy shop, and I love the shiny new one, too

  4. ... and the Little Apple Bookshop, 13 High Petergate, York (near the Minster). Helpful plus fast ordering.

  5. I get absolutely everywhere and especially bookshop windows where I like to place my friends' books so that everyone can see them.

  6. Ooh I recommend Topping and Company too (Ely, Bath, St, Andrews). Friendly, knowledgeable staff, free (and delicious!) tea and coffee whilst you browse, and the St. Andrews store even has LADDERS (like in Beauty and The Beast!) Here's a pic of my mum Elizabeth Dale up one of their fab ladders - so much fun!


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