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Your Reading Experience > How would your ideal bookshop be?

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message 51: by Olga (new)

Olga Miret (goodreadscomolganm) | 99 comments Laura and Tania. All of your ideas sound fabulous. I take note...And any more are welcome.

message 52: by Maggie (new)

Maggie James (maggiejamesfiction) My ideal bookshop would have a resident dog or cat. I love Tania's idea of a fire place for winter! Cosy seating would also feature, along with tasty snacks for sale. It would only sell books, but host events such as book signings and talks.

message 53: by L.L. (new)

L.L. Watkin (LLWatkin) | 4 comments Winter fires are a must, as is the tea shop. My favourite actual bookshop (Barter books in Alnwick) has both as well as a cavernous hall of second hand books and a toy train which circles the tops of the stacks. That last is an optional extra for my dream store!

message 54: by Olga (new)

Olga Miret (goodreadscomolganm) | 99 comments Wow! Great ideas. Yes, I definitely think events would be great. Somebody I know mentioned quizzes and such. And a toddler's reading event once a week or so (and children's, I guess). I've visited Alnwick but I think I'll have to go again as I cannot recall all the details of Barter... Fire, trains, dog or cat... Fabulous!

message 55: by Paulfozz (new)

Paulfozz I've heard a lot of good things about Barter Books, and a friend of mine who lives in Alnwick tells good things of it - I remember seeing it on Michael Portillo's Great British Railway Journeys and it looked a great shop to look around.

I'm not really a big fan of new bookshops, they always feel too clinical and mass-produced somehow (and very few independents around here to correct that image) and never really seem to sell books that tickle my interest (I don't know why, but secondhand books always seem FAR more interesting than new books to me). My ideal bookshop exclusively sells secondhand books, LOTS of them, is not too neat and tidy, has lots of little runs of old shelves, nooks and crannies to explore and sells a broad range of books. They'll always be getting more books in so that you find new things every time you visit (one shop I go to has very much the same books often for years, which suggests very poor turnover) and have a large range of nature and history books for me to plunder.

Castle Bookshop in Colchester met all these needs for me and I loved spending time wandering around the aisles, but they closed recently as the owner retired and couldn't find a buyer. They had a vast history section, loads of interesting nature books and always had plenty of the Folio Society and New Naturalist books I collect. I was really quite emotional when I walked past and saw the doors finally shut and the books being cleared from the shelves. :-(

message 56: by Olga (new)

Olga Miret (goodreadscomolganm) | 99 comments Thanks Paulfozz. In my case because through work I've moved around a fair bit in many cases I only discover some of the bookshops I really loved have disappeared years later, but I still feel a sense of loss. I'm sorry not to have had a chance to visit Castle Bookshop as it does sound great. I've put Barter Books in my list for future visit and hope to go early next year. I agree that second hand books have something... Difficult to know if it's history, previous live...Or just pure variety, as there aren't copies and copies of the same mass-produced book. I must agree that new bookshops, although might be convenient, in most cases aren't places where one wants to spend lots of time exploring.
I'm in Barcelona with my family at the moment and found a couple of bookshops that looked fascinating to me. I've posted them on my pinterest board on bookshops:

message 57: by Paulfozz (new)

Paulfozz Nice bookshops Olga, those are the kind of little shop I like. I don't know what it is about secondhand books, but certainly as far as nature books are concerned I seem to see a lot of books in secondhand shops that you just don't find in new bookshops (at least, not in ones I go to!). Even when I go to nature reserves that have big book sections they seem to be dominated by field guides to birds, children's nature books and guides to places to watch wildlife rather than books that go a little deeper into behaviour and life history, which are books I find a lot in secondhand shops.

One factor I think that makes a difference is that the selection of books you find in secondhand shops tends to be much more eclectic; you never really know what you might find and usually there will be books you've never heard of or seen before, which makes it much more thrilling than browsing in somewhere like Waterstones. I suppose that it fulfils the hunter/gatherer need - I do sometimes think of myself hunting through the shelves for something good! :-)

I was surprised how emotional I felt about Castle Bookshop closing (and still do!), but I ended up going there an awful lot during its last few months, partly just because I wanted to spend time there browsing and enjoying the atmosphere, but also because they were selling off all their stock half price and I found some fantastic books there I might otherwise not have bought (like a gorgeous five book Folio Society set on the Middle Ages for £15, which was somewhat bulky and heavy to carry back on the train with the other books I bought that day!). I always found something interesting and looking back at my booklist I bought about 50 books there this year!

There's another pretty good bookshop in Colchester, Greyfriars Books, though it doesn't tend to refresh it's stock very often so I only go there occasionally ( Castle Bookshop was a lot better and I sometimes found quite a lot had changed from week to week). They've got quite a lot of novels, and fairly large nature and history sections though.

message 58: by Olga (new)

Olga Miret (goodreadscomolganm) | 99 comments It sounds great. I'll have to go and check it out. I found a great one yesterday in Barcelona again in the old quarter, converted church. I've also seen a fairly modern one where they work deals on second hand bookshops. I imagine you're right about second hand bookshops. Unless you're a specialist bookshop or have been building stock for years and have good connections it's probably difficult to even be aware, let aside be able to purchase some very rare books. It seems that you got quite amazing books from Castle bookshop, even if the circumstances were sad ones. Sometimes one has to search high and low for something and not many people have the dedication. I was talking to one of the bookshop owners in Hay-on-Wye and she told me she was really chaffed that the US Library of Congress had made them a command. They'd been in the business for 35 years and she was telling me that it had changed a lot, as before they had whole rooms of reference books and now it's all done over the internet.
It's a changing world. Let's hope it takes the best of the past and present.

message 59: by Paulfozz (new)

Paulfozz It certainly will affect shops that sell reference works that become available on the internet, but there will hopefully always be a market for real reference books.

I did get some really good books from Castle Bookshop before they closed, which are a nice reminder of the place. I nearly bought a copy of British Birds Of Prey A Study Of Britain's 24 Diurnal Raptors by Leslie Brown in Suffolk in the spring for £35 but decided it was a bit expensive and then found a really excellent copy in Castle for just £6! I also bought a set of five lovely Folio Society Charles Dickens books for £25 and loads of other cheap Folios, plus I bought a first UK edition of Rachel Carson's Under the Sea-Wind for £2.

message 60: by Olga (new)

Olga Miret (goodreadscomolganm) | 99 comments I'm very envious. Although I always tell myself I have no space for more books, I'm always attracted to books wherever I see them and can't help but check in all charity shops see what I find. Even if I don't buy them for myself I always find a good reason to buy books for somebody else.
Good hunting and Merry Xmas (full of books, I suspect!)

message 61: by Paulfozz (new)

Paulfozz Olga wrote: "I'm very envious. Although I always tell myself I have no space for more books, I'm always attracted to books wherever I see them and can't help but check in all charity shops see what I find. Even..."

Thanks Olga, I do the same and cannot resist browsing charity shops! Nice that you think of others when looking for books.

Merry Christmas!

message 62: by Olga (new)

Olga Miret (goodreadscomolganm) | 99 comments Thanks. Sorry but my connection at my parents died and now I'm relying on free wi-fi. I should be back home on the 1st so hope the end of the year is great for you.
And to be able to share some more interesting finds.

message 63: by Stella (new)

Stella Coulson | 11 comments I love Waterstones but I do prefer independent bookshop for their character. My ideal bookshop would be in an old listed building with a cafe, rare books section,antique hardbacks and new books. It would have a reading area with big old chesterfields and rocking chairs situated by a old log burner cooking soup.

Lynne - The Book Squirrel (squirrelsend) | 3555 comments I was taken to Exmouth just before Christmas and there is a great bookshop there with a cafe on the top floor with nice sofas to sit and read. Can't wait for my little break in March to visit again.

message 65: by Olga (new)

Olga Miret (goodreadscomolganm) | 99 comments Thanks Stella. Let me know if you find your ideal bookshop or something very similar, because I'd gladly move in.
Thanks Lynne. Never visited Exmouth but you've given me at least one good reason to go.
And happy New Year full of wonderful books and bookshops to all!

message 66: by Em, Moderator (new)

Em (emmap) | 2914 comments Mod
Exmouth eh? Know where I will steer the family on our next trip to Devon!

Lynne - The Book Squirrel (squirrelsend) | 3555 comments Em wrote: "Exmouth eh? Know where I will steer the family on our next trip to Devon!"

Well if you get to Brixham let me know. We could meet up for coffee and book chat.

message 68: by Stella (new)

Stella Coulson | 11 comments Wishing everyone a happy New Year. I hope everyone finds their perfect book store this year.

message 69: by Olga (new)

Olga Miret (goodreadscomolganm) | 99 comments Thanks Stella, Em and Lynne. Maybe we should all meet in a choice celebrate...that we love bookshops!

Lynne - The Book Squirrel (squirrelsend) | 3555 comments Well if you all coordinate you Devon hols I could meet you in Exmouth!

message 71: by Em, Moderator (new)

Em (emmap) | 2914 comments Mod
I will do that, Brixham is such a lovely place.

message 72: by Olga (new)

Olga Miret (goodreadscomolganm) | 99 comments Maybe it could be a yearly event, so we'd had a chance to go touring and visiting close to everybody...

Lynne - The Book Squirrel (squirrelsend) | 3555 comments @Em will look forward to that, and I am serious when I say if anyone wants to come and visit they would be welcome!

I am looking forward to doing the ghost walk in the summer.

The Ghosts Of Brixham

message 74: by Eve (last edited Jan 15, 2014 11:55AM) (new)

Eve I enjoyed all the comments above. I live in the U.S. and when I get to the UK I enjoy making the pilgrimage to Charing Cross. That said I have yet to make it to Hay-on-Wye - hopefully someday. Support your independent bookseller is my cry - so of course I'd prefer an independent used bookshop. I have a few nearby me in my little New England town and they have a bit more character (if more dust) than the sanitized Barnes & Noble/Starbucks in the mall which I try to stay away from. Also most of these little independents thrive by their mail order business, so I get most of my books by post this way and I encourage all my friends to do the same. You keep the independent shop going and you get your book for a fraction of the price of the retail shop.

message 75: by Olga (new)

Olga Miret (goodreadscomolganm) | 99 comments Thanks Eve. There've been some wonderful comments from the US. Bookshops bring life to the community, and I agree with you that the more character they have, the more at home one feels there. Talking to some of the bookshop owners in Hay, they did emphasise also the postal side of the business. There is a bookshop there than only sells Penguin editions and the owner was saying that there was no comparison and he made many more sales via postal orders than people who came to the shop.
There is the risk (already evident in many places) that all the small towns look the same, with same retailers and no spirit. Let's hope more people rally behind the independent bookshops (and other shops).

message 76: by [deleted user] (new)

Eve wrote: "I enjoyed all the comments above. I live in the U.S. and when I get to the UK I enjoy making the pilgrimage to Charing Cross. That said I have yet to make it to Hay-on-Wye - hopefully someday. S..."
A friend from work (a public library in the U.S.) and I are coming to Britain to attend the Hay-on-Wye Festival in May!

message 77: by Eve (new)

Eve Dallas - That is fantastic. I hope you will have a great time and give a description of your visit online.

message 78: by Olga (new)

Olga Miret (goodreadscomolganm) | 99 comments Have a great time, Dallas! (I haven't yet managed to get there for the festival. Need to be more organised as some people book one year to the next).

message 79: by Sarah (new)

Sarah | 5 comments Hi all

My ideal bookshop would have the classic deep leather chairs, winding stairs up to the next floor (or two), and little windows that you can peep out of and watch everyone else dashing about while you browse the cosy shop.

To save the walk back down the stairs, there would be a slide back down to the lower levels, made of wood of course.

The shop would have to be magic, for it would feel cosy, yet have enough room for buggies, wheelchairs and people with enormous back packs to browse without hindrance. There would be a lift, with someone dressed in a 1930s/40s Amercian lift attendant outfit, and jazz softly playing. Employees would also be on hand to help wheelchair users have the fun of using the slide too.

Mine would have foreign and literature/non-fiction films to hire, and weekly discussion evenings on such as books, philosophy, films. To reach the higher shelves, a couple of people would be employed who can walk on stilts, dressed up in a wonderful outfit of top hat, stripey trousers and top and for the guy, a long beard would be required.

On cold days, hot chocolate would be served and on warm days, cool homemade lemonade, spiced up for adults drinking it. For those immersed in a book who don't notice the time and forget to go home, a school bell would be rung, and a friendly golden labrador would gently woof and tug at the sleeves of the dreamers (knowing instinctively those who are afraid of dogs and not troubling them)...

I think I'd better stop now because I could go on indefinitely with this...

message 80: by Olga (new)

Olga Miret (goodreadscomolganm) | 99 comments Sarah, your bookshops is the stuff dreams are made of. I definitely want to live there! Maybe you should not stop writing about it. Wonderful!
Thanks for sharing the vision!

message 81: by Emma (new)

Emma Jaye | 27 comments Well my local bookshop is a little like Sarah's although It has crooked uneven floors, so not so good for buggies. Its a 15th century house with a little coffee shop on the ground floor, and many little interconnecting rooms, plus a rickety staircase. There's a reading room with comfy old sofas so you can read to your hearts content.
New and second-hand books line the shelves and on some weekends, all the shopkeepers in town dress up in Dickensian costumes. Magic!

message 82: by Olga (new)

Olga Miret (goodreadscomolganm) | 99 comments E., where is that bookshop? I'm trying to visit some of the bookshops people mention. I plan to visit Barter Bookshop in Northumberland when I can find the time...

message 83: by Emma (new)

Emma Jaye | 27 comments East Grinstead, west Sussex, we've got the longest row of wood framed buildings in the country according to the blurb. I walk past them everyday, it really is a little gem, and you can get a steam train ride here too!

And no I'm not on the tourist board LOL!

message 84: by Olga (new)

Olga Miret (goodreadscomolganm) | 99 comments I lived in East Sussex for quite a few years (my first job as a psychiatrist was in Eastbourne, then I studied American Literature at Sussex University) , but although I used to drive past East Grinstead often (I have relatives in London) I never visited...You've given me a good reason to go now.
Thanks E, (Of course now I live in Penistone, South Yorkshire, so I'll have to make it a weekend...)

message 85: by Olga (new)

Olga Miret (goodreadscomolganm) | 99 comments It does look amazing...

message 86: by Sarah (new)

Sarah | 5 comments Olga, I've dreamt of being a writer for many years, but have not done anything about it. As I wrote that shop description ideas poured into my head and it's made me think about turning it into a childrens' story.

E, what a great sounding shop, and to catch a steam train to such a bookshop would be perfect!

message 87: by Olga (new)

Olga Miret (goodreadscomolganm) | 99 comments Well, Sarah, I think that's a children's book I'd love to read. Keep me posted...

message 88: by Emma (new)

Emma Jaye | 27 comments Go for it Sarah, writing is a fun hobby, seeing your work for sale is a great high. Getting sales is even better!

message 89: by Olga (new)

Olga Miret (goodreadscomolganm) | 99 comments I agree E. There's also the possibility of trying a blog and/or Wattpad to gather momentum and test the waters...

message 90: by Sarah (new)

Sarah | 5 comments Thanks for the lovely encouragement! I've had little bits of postive feedback from the writing I've done - years ago at school, more recently as a (very!) mature student in a creative writing module at Uni, but fear of finding that I am not the talented writer I'd hoped to be has stopped me from completing and sending off my work.

This is the year then, when I finally finish and submit at least one thing - getting published is not the priority for now, just taking that important step of letting publishers/agents know there's a would-be writer here is. Posting/emailing just one piece will also make a difference, in that I will then know I am serious about this and not just daydreaming; in fact, I am going to aim for twenty rejection slips to show that I am giving it a good go!

If I become a successful writer, I shall blame thank you, Olga and E, for motivating me!

message 91: by Emma (new)

Emma Jaye | 27 comments You don't need to impress a publisher/agent to get your work published Sarah, do what thousands of us indies do and go it alone, let the public decide if your work is worth buying.

message 92: by Olga (new)

Olga Miret (goodreadscomolganm) | 99 comments Yes, Sarah, I agree with E. I did try to find an agent (very few publishers accept unrequested manuscripts these days) and although there was some interest it didn't get anywhere. These days, even if you get a publisher (unless you are a very well known writer or a very famous "celebrity") you'll be expected to do a lot of the marketing yourself.
Best of luck and if there's anything I can do...

message 93: by Charles (new)

Charles Frankhauser (ccgfabellsouthnet) | 38 comments Olga, My idea for a favorite bookshop would be a climate-controlled enclosure with a view of the mountains or seashore. It would have comfortable furniture, a coffee shop, a gift shop, a clothing shop featuring tee shirts with avatars advertising all my books with shirts given-away free to each person entering the shop. I would include a petting zoo for dog lovers, cat lovers, bird lovers, and all kinds of fish in tanks for fish lovers to watch. I would schedule musical performances by local talent, enforce silent times in the shop for tired persons to take naps while waiting for their friends and relatives to finish shopping in local stores. I would have a room where authors can encourage people to write books by sharing experiences gained during the traditional and electronic publishing process. I would have a bulletin board for authors to post when their books will be Free on ebook sites to encourage a wider readership. I would allow dogs in the shop because mine goes everywhere with me.

message 94: by Olga (new)

Olga Miret (goodreadscomolganm) | 99 comments Wow Charles! It sounds amazing. And I think your ideas for encouraging readers sound great too...Petting zoe...

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