I love bookshops. Especially independent ones. There’s something about the way they select their wares, the knowledge of their subject, the little extras they often have for sale and the advice they give. I feel more intelligent just being in a bookshop, as if some of the knowledge inside the books has passed to me by magic (unfortunately this feeling is fleeting and disappears completely once I am outside of said shop).
I’m lucky enough to live close to many fine independent bookshops. I’m just down the road from Dulwich Books (which organises a brilliant array of writers to come and talk, they recently had Julia Donaldson and Eleanor Catton, the staggeringly young winner of the Booker prize this year). There’s also Herne Hill Books, a tiny shop with a carefully curated selection of awesome books. (I don’t use the word awesome lightly, I’m British). And let us not forget Tales on Moon Lane, a book shop dedicated to children’s books and recently closed down by a burst water main that made the news. Slightly more further afield there’s Chener Books in East Dulwich: from the outside it looks a little bit ramshackle, but inside it’s pure gold. I also love Rye Books in East Dulwich which has a great selection and serves coffee. And finally Review in Peckham, the owner of which is a writer herself. Phew that’s a lot of independent book shops.
The thing about these shops is that they need people to spend money there rather than at Amazon. I’m no saint, of course I’ve bought books from Amazon, and I’m also partial to second hand books in charity shops. However I do try and make a purchase from one of these shops every now and again. As I can’t imagine a world without bookshops.
In September, there was a campaign to raise awareness about independent bookshops called ‘Books Are My Bag’. Have a look at their website here. There are a lot of worrying stats about the demise of the independent bookseller. So, I’ve decided I’m going to do a bit of my Christmas shopping at one of my local bookshops. I probably will do a bit at Amazon too, as I’m not perfect (and they are very cheap). However you don’t get the service and the knowledge and the chance to stroke beautiful books with Amazon, so I’m going to support these bookshops too.