With lockdown looming, we will once again try and become bibliophiles, but instead of insisting you need that book on your doormat the next day (when is this truly the case?), spend your money more consciously. With The New York Times reporting that one independent book shop a week has shuttered since the pandemic began, it's more important than ever. So please, if you can, refrain from using that frightfully convenient market place that starts with ‘A’ and ends with ‘n’. Of all the stories of struggle and suffering during the pandemic, there is one person who’s come off just fine, and whose fortune in recent months, his has swelled by $24bn. Go on, support the small guys.
Bookshop, online only
Andy Hunter, founder of literary culture website Literary Hub, has this week launched The Bookshop. Uniting indie and independent bookshops, it affords customers huge choice and convenience. Sellers earn a 30% commission on sales, while another 10% goes into a pot which is distributed between all shops every month. The publisher receives 20% and remaining money is put towards operating. Most admirably, Hunter doesn’t profit at all.
Burley Fisher Books, London
This Haggerston-based bookshop is one of those if you know, you know spots, with London-based authors Sophie Mackintosh, former BURO. columnist Olivia Sudjic and Sophie Heawood all waxing lyrical about it. They specialise in small press, but stock cult classics too, and we particularly like the staff picks which include every genre and brilliant reviews. International postage is a bonus, but if you’re local they’ll bike them to you, because it’s Nancy Meyers’ world, we just live in it.
400 Kingsland Rd, London, E8
Forum Books, Northumberland
Housed in a listed chapel, this shop has been the heart of Corbridge village since the 1970s – the pulpit, no less, has been reconfigured as a reading nook, and the pews are shelves. It’s sells everything from Ottolenghi cook books to Evaristo's fiction, and its owner Helen is thoroughly creative, putting on events (pre-lockdown), partnering with art galleries and writing personalised recommendations that slot in book covers.
The Chapel, Corbridge, NE45
Story Smith Books, Bristol
Belonging to husband and wife duo Emily and Dan, this Bristol-based bookshop is a favourite of Sharmaine Lovegrove, publisher of Dialogue Books (the UK's only inclusive imprint). Their online store is just as brilliant as their bricks and mortar one, but the choice may prove overwhelming, which is where their subscription service for ‘curious minds’ comes in. You can choose between three monthly deliveries (£45), six monthly deliveries (£80), or twelve monthly deliveries (£150), and all come with a bag of Triple Co Roast coffee.
49 North St, Bristol, BS3
Golden Hare Books, Edinburgh
If the former director of the V&A opened a bookshop, you’d imagine it to be nice, right? So nice that it scoops awards, like that of the British Book Awards' 2019 Independent Bookshop of the Year. Yep, this well-curated spot in Scotland is kind of a big deal. Website wise, you can sort by author, price, genre etc, which some would say is as good as Am…
68 St Stephen St, Edinburgh, EH3
DRAKE the Bookshop, Stockton-on-Tees
When the Drake family were en route to the Lake District they stopped off in Penrith for a coffee and a browse of the bookshop. Only they didn’t, because it ceased to exist. The realisation and the rest, is history, because they quit their jobs, bought it, and reopened it – naturally. Share with them your preferences, and they’ll send you fitting releases, once a month.
27 Silver St, Stockton-on-Tees, TS18
Jacaranda Books, London
This award-winning publisher and bookshop amplifies Black, brown and marginalised voices. Owned by the brilliant Valerie Brandes, it employs only women, and this year, published 20 titles by 20 Black British writers (a first for a UK publisher), in addition to winning Best Small Publisher at the British Bookseller Awards.
27 Old Gloucester St, London, WC1N
The Bookish Type, Leeds
What started as a pop up now exists as a standalone store, stocking a rich range of literature by LGBTIQA+ authors such as Amelia Abraham, Susan Sontag, Ocean Vuong and Alice Walker. Nicola and Ray opened the store because they wanted to make everyone feel seen while fostering a sense of community.
58 Merrion Shopping Centre, Leeds, LS2
Run by artist Tessa and author Betsy, these women are on top of buzzy releases, and also facilitate personal requests. Pre-Covid, you could read while sipping on wine from nearby Highbury Vintners, or hot drinks from Nude Coffee. But, lockdown prevails, so instead head to their online site. “What you gain in terms of convenience and savings, you lose in terms of discoverability”, said Tessa in an interview about their competitor retailers.
84 Highbury Park, London, N5