Tag Archives: Bookshops

Chapter One Books, Manchester

I had the pleasure of heading to Manchester earlier this week and after one of my meetings was cancelled last minute I decided to spend the time, before my train back, doing one of my favourite things and meandering around a bookshop. The bookshop I headed for was Chapter One Books in Manchester’s Northern Quarter which I fairly new and has moved into the city since I lived there for a year and a half.

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In a time where independent bookshops are in decline it takes a brave person (or in this case persons, as two sisters opened the shop) to take on a venture like this. On entering Chapter One Books you know that you are in safe hands as the whole place is absolutely stunning from the moment you enter, when you are greeted by a selection of cakes – my kind of bookshop, and then turn the corner to discover an almost magical world of books.

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I use the word magical as you feel like you are in a hidden book haven. There is a fountain and a tree hanging from the roof in what would be a rather industrial space which makes you feel like you are at once indoors and out, as well as being in a fairytale yet dystopian space, where only books have survived. It is marvellous. This is before you discover there are secret shelves all over the place hidden under balconies, which also conceal more shelves of books to discover.

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The space also seems to just keep going, every time you turn another corner there seems to be more space where shelves are hiding waiting for you.

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Or little places to sit and write, should you be a budding author…

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Or should you be the fan of stationery, which lets face it most of us book lovers are…

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Of course you are wondering what the sort of books are aren’t you? Well this is what I found so interesting, and loved about Chapter One Books, is that it feels like the selection of books has been really well crafted. (Yes, I held off the buzz word ‘curated’ though this would be true.) There are some of the well known and slightly obvious books (because every shop needs punters and to appeal to the passerby) yet they remain a small minority and tend to just be the really good ones surrounded with many more that you have yet to discover, and this said by an avid reader. With a limited space there are only a few authors who are there in abundance, in this case Atwood and Atkinson which thrilled me, but you can find a hardback of almost every book that is also in paperback which I liked. It felt like a den for collectors. I also loved the fact there were quite a few imported books which seriously tempted me. It is a collection clearly chosen by keen readers, books that you just really want to read if you haven’t before because of some of the better known pointers that you can gage your taste by. I picked up these two which caught my eye and I had never heard of but instantly felt I would love.

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So this was all utterly joyous. I am only annoyed at myself for not having the Bonbon coffee (carnation milk and coffee nom) but that just means I have to go back, which I shall be doing every time I find myself in Manchester from now on. So a big hoorah for Chapter One Books! If you are in Manchester at any point make sure you head there, or else.

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A Lovely Bookish Tale Before Christmas (Well I Think So)

I have mentioned a few times on the blog that I believe that some books are simply meant to be yours. Sometimes you find them just when you need them (like when I left London and on my first day up north saw a copy of this book with Polly, who used to write Novel Insights and I have known since I was four, which felt like a friendly nudge I was doing the right thing) or when you find a copy of the book you have been hunting for ages or ages in a second hand book shop.

Well going back to March of last year, when I was turning 30, I was celebrating my birthday with my mother, Gran and little sister Mim in Much Wenlock and going around the antique shops, delicatessens for treats and (most importantly frankly) bookshops. On the trip I discovered a first edition of Daphne Du Maurier’s very, very, very short novella (really a short story if we are all being honest) called Happy Christmas and I ummed and ahhhed about treating myself for ages before realising I didn’t have my wallet. My mother then offered as a present and I ummmed and ahhhhed some more over tea and cake and by the time I had decided that yes I did want it… the shop, Much More Books, was shut. I felt rather miffed, to put it nicely.

Last summer, on a mini trip to Mum’s again, I decided to call in on the way back. The shop was shut. Then in the autumn on the way back from a day in Shrewsbury, where The Beard was working and so I went mooching, we diverted and tried again and had just missed the closing by minutes. I gave up. Back in May Liz from Much More Books left a comment on the blog post to say they still had the book but with Gran being so ill and all that was going on I didn’t respond and thought again how I had missed out.

So a few weeks ago I decided to go for broke and finally email back and see if they still had it. I didn’t expect them too as I had checked their online stock list and couldn’t see it. A few days later Liz emailed back and amazingly THEY STILL HAD IT… a little money transfer and waiting for the postman every morning for a few days and it arrived!!!!

Daphne Happy Christmas

The very same copy, meant to be owned by me. I am honestly beyond thrilled and it seems to have come at the perfect time of year too. Fate, I swear it – and won’t hear anyone say otherwise.  Isn’t that great though, warms the cockles of your very heart I think. What is also lovely is that Liz then asked for a list of any titles and authors who she would look out for in the store and on her bookish travels – doubly amazing. See definitely fate! I wondered if you all had any tales like this, you must have found a gem in a bookstore you’d been hunting for ages? Or some other tale to warm our bookish hearts at this festive time of year, share them all with us…

P.S This post was unusually late, I started a new job yesterday so things may be sporadic for a while, well until I get a week paid leave from next week – planned that well didn’t I?

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Buy Buy or Bye Bye To The Bookshop…

I haven’t written this week, nor really read very much, because I have been mulling things over. I was going to write a huge angry rant on Monday but then I thought the better of it, people like the look of anger as much as they do the look of drunk – not very much, unless everyone is angry or drunk with you then it seems you can get away with it. You see this weekend I seriously felt like the book world had gone bonkers and imploded on itself. Bloggers vs bloggers (which is so sad I don’t want to do any more than acknowledge how sad it is) but mainly bookshop vs bloggers. Well, one bookshop against two bloggers.

On Sunday night, and again in the hours of Monday morning, a bookshop (which will remain nameless, as despite what they and some bloggers might think I don’t want to close them down earlier) for some reason really took against the lovely Gav of Gav Reads for tweeting a link to a books Amazon page. This was, apparently, not only a decided attempt to shut down that bookshop (and every other in the world) but was also declaring a war with Independent Bookshops throughout the land – I know, bonkers. Having met the shop owner myself and thinking they seemed a nice decent person I stepped in with an aim to calm it down and also defend Gavin who I think is a ‘book pusher’/book promoter extraordinaire.  It was at this point that I received a tongue lashing of my own about how I promote AmaCON and I am also killing the bookshop – from bonkers to (excuse my French now) utter fucking madness.

Now to defend the bookseller before I defend myself (as I can’t speak for Gavin, though I have spoken to him about the craziness) their bookshop is closing down and they feel it is because of “AmaCon”, as they put it and supermarket bought books. It must be beyond horrendous if your livelihood and passion is thwarted like that, and I don’t think (well I hope not) the bookseller talks to their customers like they did us as I have been at events with them and their passion was boundless, so it must be crushing for them. Attacking book lovers is not the answer but it did raise some points I thought we could discuss.

I myself find it very hard to believe that anyone who had read this blog, followed my tweets, listened to podcasts or even scarier still having actually met me in person would think that I wished death on the independent bookshop, it is ridiculous. I BLOODY WELL LOVE THE BOOKS OFF A BOOKSHOP! If I walk past a bookshop I fall into it! I have promoted bookshops on this blog (some Dutch ones coming soon) since the early days. I have been mulling a Good Bookshop Guide for quite some time. I even want to have my own for goodness sake! I mean really.

That said (and a blogger did state they didn’t see me ‘buy brand new books’ very often which is fair enough and I take on board)  I have been known to shop for books in charity shops, in supermarkets and on that dreaded certain website. Given the choice, it would always be a bookshop but sometimes it simply can’t be the case. Here are the reasons why, being completely honest, I don’t always buy books from a bookshop as much as I would like.

  1. I am really lucky in that through writing this blog for six years (for free, for the love) and working on a books page for a magazine/doing book reviews here and there (because I need to eat/have a roof over my head) and bookish podcasts (for free, for the love) I get quite a lot of free books because I then push them onto all of you/readers/listeners who might buy copies or indeed I go off and buy copies for my friends and family if I love it.
  2. I love my local library and so should we all, so I use that a lot.
  3. My local Indie bookshop is quite a way away, we have a Waterstones nearby but I am talking Indie-Indie, if I am ever going past it in I pop and invariably walk away with something if not several things.
  4. Sometimes I want to support my very local second hand bookshop thank you very much, and I am unashamed about that, we need new and old – where else would I get out of print books?
  5. Sometimes I want a book that isn’t out in the UK as yet.
  6. If it is a book for book group or one I am not sure about I tend to use my library – invariably I buy the physical new book after.
  7. Sometimes I buy books on a whim, be this in a charity shop or the supermarket – I love books I can’t help it. It is an addiction.
  8. If I am on a deadline for a personal reading challenge/book group/wanting to read all the Not The Booker Prize shortlist and I either a) can’t get it at the library b) don’t know if I will like the book c) can’t get to a bookshop in time c) the bookshop I do manage to get to doesn’t have it or won’t for a while, then yes I admit I might buy the e-book version instead. This is really, really rare as a) I don’t really like reading on my Kindle – more on that soon and b) I have issues with e-readers which are well documented.
  9. I can’t always afford new books; do you know how much a middling freelancer earns? Do you know I have been paid wrong/not at all for several freelance jobs recently? No course not, we don’t know each other’s financial situations and shouldn’t judge them because it is no one else’s sodding business.
  10. Buying myself/other people a new book is a real treat for me and has been since I was a child. I wish I could do it everyday but I can’t.
  11. Sometimes people by me vouchers for certain websites.
  12. Finally, and this one might make me really unpopular, it’s the elephant in the fiction section… a few Indie bookshops are really crap (the tweeting bookshop isn’t crap, I have been, I wouldn’t say it was the best I have ever been to if I am being 100% honest which I feel this post needs, but it’s not the worst though it’s location could be an issue). I feel like I have just said ‘bloody Mary’ too many times and now some bookish demons might come and get me. It is true though, like any indie shops, there are some good ones and there are some piss poor ones. I am not going to shop at the latter.

The penultimate thing I want to say though is that I have never told anyone – in the flesh, on this blog, on podcasts, via work, anywhere – that they should buy a book from anywhere. I leave it up to you to make that decision because it is your choice. I don’t link to a local bookshop/Waterstones/Amazon/Library catalogue. I hope the subtext is always there in this blog overall that hints at my library leanings and bookshop (new and old) tendencies. At the end of the day we all know if we don’t buy from bookshops then it is goodbye to them, simple as that.

The very final thing I want to say is what I said when I ended my Sunday evening of tweeting, only I am making it a bit longer… Bookshops around the world, you have one thing over a certain website that it can never have. You have faces; personalities and voices… use them wisely and make yourself individual.

People will come. I know when I find bookshops like that it is very difficult to get me out of them again, as I am sure it is for all of you reading this. What are your thoughts on the plight of the bookshop?

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Can You Recommend Any Good Bookshops In… Cornwall?

So after my earlier request, here is the second of the two ‘can you recommend any good bookshops in…’ posts today. This one is from one of the Savidge Readers, Susan, who has asked for your recommendations of bookshops in Cornwell as she and her husband are visiting this month. So can you help?

Lands End, Cornwall

I myself haven’t been to Cornwall for years and years and years, I should add I would love to, so I cannot be of much help. That said I do know of one. Hurley Books, also known as The Cornish Bookshop, is run by Liz Hurley (no not that one) in Mevagissey. Now whilst I haven’t been to visit myself, back when Polly and I did Discovering Daphne season on our blogs, Liz really supported the whole thing, especially as Daphne of course loved Cornwall and made it her home, yet another reason I would love to go. In fact maybe I should ask Liz if I can go and live there and help out for a week or two hahaha.

Back to the realms of reality, which bookshops in Cornwall would you recommend if you are from that beautiful area, or indeed if you have visited?

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Can You Recommend Any Good Bookshops (And Pubs) In… North Wales?

This will be the first of two ‘can you recommend any good bookshops in…’ posts today, this one is for me and I have another for a reader later on. I am not being selfish by putting my request first (honestly I am not) it is just that my trip is more imminent, well it is actually tomorrow and I really would love your recommendations on bookshops in North Wales as I am off there rather randomly in the morning.

Having said North Wales I should actually be a little bit more specific as we will be going to Denbighshire. I say we because it is down to The Beard’s work that we are going. Now that he is running his lovely foodie shop in the Wirral he has to see suppliers (and alas leave with lots of samplers, how awful) and tomorrow he is off to Denbighshire to meet some more and thought I might fancy a day trip. Initially I was a little sceptical but then there was a promise of a castle, haunted building, pub lunch and bookshops and how could I say no?

So I thought I would ask you all if you know of any bookshops in the Denbighshire area, or indeed any pubs? Or any on the surrounding outskirts, I certainly wouldn’t mind if we had to go to the seaside on a detour. Do please let me know.

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