Write about your favourite, local book shop they said. Tell us why you love it, let us celebrate these havens on the high street. Living where I do in rural Wiltshire there are not a lot of outlets to choose from.
There are two market towns within five miles of my home. The nearest has just the one, small, religious book shop. The only other book retailer closed down years ago meaning charity shops are now the stockists of general books to buy, second hand and reliant on the discarded tastes of donors.
The second nearby town also boasts a religious book shop. The high street has a branch of WH Smith’s but with limited floor space given over to books. A discount store exists but lacks that special ambience which will tempt the dedicated bibliophile to enter. Thankfully this town also has a small branch of Waterstone’s, formerly an Ottakar’s. Locally this would be my book shop of choice.
When my children were younger I would take them here after birthdays and Christmas. Eagerly clutching their book tokens they would peruse the shelves at the back of the shop, seeking out the adventure and fantasy tales that they favoured. The amount on the token would never be quite enough for all the titles they coveted. They would spot the exciting new releases from their favoured authors, hard backs with piggy bank emptying price tags. Sadly returning them to the shelves they would repeat my mantra, ‘wait until it comes out in paperback’, before selecting more affordable alternatives and hurrying home to read, often cover to cover in a sitting.
The staff have always been friendly, helpful and knowledgeable but it is the welcoming feel and smell of the book shop that draws me in. So many worlds encapsulated within covers to be discovered. Walking past the tempting tables piled high with enticing works I would struggle to leave empty handed. So many books, so little time.
In the nearest city fifteen miles away there are fabulous book shops, independents and chains, which hold many exciting events: visits from authors for talks and signings, bookish promotions of every kind.
Our little Waterstone’s simply sells books. I am grateful that it exists.