I’ve lamented the decline of independent bookshops on this site in the past, so was pleased to see a Guardian special section on independent bookshops last weekend. It’s available online – I was particularly interested in the listing of all the independent bookshops in London, but there are also similar articles for the other areas of the UK (follow the links at the side of the London one).
I’ve been to many of them, but there are some new ones to me as well, like Magma and England’s Lane Books. Also good to see new places opening up, like Clerkenwell Tales, established 2009. Am definitely planning a visit to those three at least.
I was also reminded how lucky I am to live within walking distance of four good independent bookshops: Muswell Hill Bookshop, Highgate Bookshop, The Big Green Bookshop and New Beacon Books. My favourite is The Big Green Bookshop, which is run by two former Waterstone’s employees who set up their own place when Waterstone’s moved out of the area. It’s got a friendly feel, a good selection for a small place, and they run a LOT of author readings and other events. I used to have an excellent one, Prospero’s, just around the corner, but it closed down about a year ago now.
Of course the outlook is still not great, especially with the advance of e-books, but still I enjoyed reading about so many independent bookshops and planning some bookbuying trips. Maybe I should be depressed that all of the bookshops in London can now be listed in a single article, something that would have been unthinkable a decade or two ago? Maybe, but I’ll choose not to think about that too much.
Do you have a favourite London bookshop, one that I should definitely visit? Or please share one from your own town or region, wherever you are in the world – I am a keen traveller, and always like to stop into a bookshop while I’m away!