Gig Review: Reopening of Toppings Bookshop in Bath

IMG_20211030_160821864_HDR

“After 14 happy years on the Paragon, this weekend is our final one in our familiar spot before we set up shop in York Street next to the Abbey. Tuesday 26th is officially the last day we will be open on the Paragon, and our new York Street bookshop will open at 10.30am on Saturday 30th October.”

Toppings Bookshop on the Paragon is no more. The warm and welcoming warren where I have attended many cosy literary events closed its doors before I could revisit after lockdown. However, the bookshop has not gone! Rather, it has moved down the hill and reopened by the Abbey, in a former Friends Meeting House – how appropriate. It is now rather grand.

IMG_20211030_150550219_HDR

Last Saturday, Robyn and I took the train to Bath on what was described as ‘soft launch’ day to see what Toppings has become. Behind the familiar blue doors, it is impressive. Rather than the welcoming cups of tea in the usual dotty mugs, we were handed glasses of fizz. There were a pleasing number of customers browsing the stacks.

IMG_20211030_150711663_HDR

Moving an entire bookshop in just a few days is no mean feat so kudos to the hard working staff for making the new premises look so well stocked and appealing. There were still a few spaces to fill high up, and boxes left in some of the nooks and crannies we peeked into. On the shelves, though, were many temptations.

Robyn was particularly impressed with the room given over entirely to fantasy and sci-fi. I overheard one customer cooing over the crime fiction room. I was pleased to find treasures from many of my beloved independent publishers. I was also happy to note that the ladders were still being employed.

IMG_20211030_150757285

The back room at the Paragon housed many fine books relating to art, and these are now shelved on the mezzanine level. Here, as elsewhere, are tables and chairs. When staff are less busy answering customer queries, and tea in dotty cups is reinstated, there will be somewhere pleasant to sit and contemplate potential purchases. Or maybe the seating is provided for students and writers to work while surrounded by such an inspiring environment. 

IMG_20211030_152810016_HDR

I enjoyed browsing the tables on the ground floor, seeing what books the staff had selected for these. I also noted they could easily be moved for events, offering a large space for seating attendees. No more peering around stacks when an author proves popular as at the old premises. I suspect the bookshop will not have to hire larger venues as often as previously.

I posted a selection of these photographs on Twitter and was asked about access for those with mobility issues. This was such a valid question I emailed the shop for details. They replied promptly to confirm the existence of a lift system – an outdoors lift that can be used to reach the shop entry level; a lift can also take customers up to the mezzanine. Customer bathrooms are available on the lower level that are accessible via lift and ramp. I hope this helps inform those who would find the many steps I have shown a barrier.

IMG_20211030_154541185_BURST000_COVER_TOP

Obviously we chose to support this new venture with purchases. So, what was in the bag? I hear you ask.

IMG_20211102_162006944

Having so much enjoyed Dead Relatives by Lucie McKnight Hardy, I had to have her debut. And having read so many glowing reviews from fellow readers of the Mathias Énard, it somehow jumped into my bag too. Never let it be said that book bloggers don’t encourage sales, including to themselves.

Toppings in Bath is open 8.30am to 9pm, 7 days a week and hosts many fine events. It is well worth checking out: online  and now in York Street by the Abbey.

Advertisement

8 comments on “Gig Review: Reopening of Toppings Bookshop in Bath

  1. BookerTalk says:

    Doesn’t it make a change to hear of a business that is thriving instead of all those closing? They’ve chosen a lovely atmospheric building though have lost a window display so they won’t pick up browsers.

    • Jackie Law says:

      I noted the lack of window display, and wonder if they will find a place for a sign with the bookshop name on. The day I visited random passers by were obviously curious about what was beyond the busy blue doors – it’s not yet obvious from outside.

  2. Jo says:

    Really like the look of Toppings Bookshop. I’m planning a visit to Bath next month and have added this to my list of places to visit.

  3. Joanne says:

    Oh wow, it looks gorgeous! The Edinburgh shop is in a huge old bank building and is a great place for a wander. And has ladders too!

    • Jackie Law says:

      I think the Edinburgh shop opened after my son left the city so not sure when I will get chance to visit again. Interesting they are now choosing ‘hall’ type premises with rooms to the side rather than warrens.

  4. kaysbooknook says:

    this looks like such a gorgeous, cosy bookshop. i don’t live anywhere near bath but definitely want to visit soon and will have to add this to my bucket list of things to see

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.