My earliest memory is of being in a bookshop. It’s a fairly vague memory but I do remember the exact location, helped by the fact that the shop in question is still open. It has new owners now but remains to this day an independent Children’s bookshop. It played a small but very significant role in forging my love for reading, for books, and for the little shops that sell them.
My first experience of an independent bookshop was in 1991 when I first stepped foot in what would become home to my earliest happy memory. I was visiting to get a pack of ‘flash cards’ which would, as my dad informed me, help me ‘learn and be grown up and clever’. I was unbelievably excited. I think the reason this memory stuck over any other is that it was made to feel so important, first by my parents and then supported by the adults in the shop who helped me make my choice on cards and recommended a book I could buy. I remember being treated like a grown up, I was even given the money to make my purchases and sent to the till to buy them. How grown up could a 3 year old dream of being?
As I have grown older I have never lost my love for the independent bookshop. It is with this in mind that I write this little love letter of sorts. This is an open letter of thanks to whoever it was who sold me those flash cards and books in Lindley as well as a thank you to the people brave enough to open or run bookshops now even in the face of competition from the likes of Amazon and supermarkets slashing both the prices of books and the love of the books in their charge.
I grew up in a town fairly bereft of good local bookshops. In Halifax we had a small shop called Fred
Wade (now closed down) and not a great deal else. As such, one thing I always looked out for whenever away from home was any sign of a small independent bookshop for me to instantly fall in love with.
When I moved to York as a student I was blessed with the discovery that I could walk from my house or my university to The Little Apple Bookshop. This I did with such regularity that I ended up maxing out my student overdraft long before my fellow students had done similar in the student union. The result of this was me having to work at HMV (which was partnered with Waterstones – sorry!) in order to keep myself in cheese toasties and pints of snakebite for the remaining 3 years of study.
I have discovered other shops I would like to take a moment to recommend here. When on holiday in Cornwall I stumbled upon St Ives Bookseller and loved it and I have for some time found occasion or reason to take a 40 mile round trip commute to Grove Bookshop in Ilkley (it’s lovely and definitely worth the trip) to fulfil my need to buy books from a nice little independent bookshop.
But now to a major inspiration for this little blog post. My hometown FINALLY has an independent bookshop. A real shop full of books. I could not be happier. I would like to take a moment to urge anyone and everyone to visit The Book Corner in the newly renovated and reopened Piece Hall in Halifax. The real joy of this place for me isn’t just that it is a good shop in its own right, or that it is in one of the nicest settings you could ever hope to find, but that it was twinned with (and adjoining) an independent children’s bookshop Bookworms.
So, if you’ve read this far, I thank you. Now how about you? Do you have a favourite bookshop? Maybe somewhere you would like to recommend? I am, unsurprisingly, always open to more independent bookshop recommendations.
And, to any bookshop owner, book seller or anyone supporting their local bookshop; thank you.