Love for Books: The best independent bookshops we love!
Published on: 05 February 2016 Author: Anna McKerrow
Here are seven independent bookshops that get our bookish pulses racing.
These bookshops include one with a nine year-old reader-in-residence, a shop that is regularly visited by cows and a store that stumbled across a piece World War Two history.
Barter Books, Alnwick
This beautiful secondhand bookshop in Northumberland which opened in 1991 is located inside a Victorian railway station and still boasts the use of the old tea rooms and waiting rooms (one of which wasn't discovered until 17 years after the shop opened).The shop is owned by husband and wife team Stuart and Mary Manley and was inspired by Mary's experience of working in an antiquarian bookshop in New York.
As well as lots and lots of books, Barter Books is also home to an original 'Keep Calm and Carry On poster' from World War Two, which resurfaced when one of the shop's owners found it in a box of books he had bought at auction.
The Book Case, Hebden Bridge
Situated in Hebden Bridge - the town of 'great little shops' as it has so many independent businesses - is The Book Case, a shop that has served the community for nearly 30 years and that has also flooded. Twice. Unfortunately, the last time was on Boxing Day 2015, but the shop is well on its way to being better than ever with lots of help from publishers and the local community.
The Book Case regularly hosts author events and book signings as well as being involved in the Hebden Bridge Arts Festival and the Ted Hughes Festival. The large children's area has also played host to Julia Donaldson, an event which saw queues go right around the block.
Booka Bookshop, Shropshire
Located in Shropshire, the Booka Bookshop was last year's UK & Ireland Independent Bookshop of the Year. This delightful bookshop also hosts a range of book clubs, including 'book and a beer', which takes place in the bookshop and later in the pub. Ingenious.
Like many other bookshops, Booka Books also has guest authors visiting, but, unlike others, Booka Books gives out themed cupcakes based on the authors' latest work.
Mrs B's Emporium of Reading Delights, Bath
Winner of the 2008 and 2011 UK's Independent Bookshop of the Year, Mr B's Emporium is a cosy shop with chairs in front of the fire. Bliss. The shop also boasts probably the UK's unofficial youngest staff member - nine year-old Bea Roberts.
Bea quickly became the unrivalled expert in their children's section after she started dropping in to chat to staff and customers about her favourite books; soon she was reading advance proofs from publishers, writing reviews and recommending books to customers. The other staff just have to make sure she gets home in time for dinner.
Sam Read Book Shop, Cumbria
In its 126 year history, Sam Read Book Shop has only had six different owners - that's an average of 21 years each.
Sam Read isn't just a destination to purchase the latest books, it's also a central community hub where people meet before going on walks; it's also the destination for undelivered post and parcels.
One of the unique traits Sam Read boasts is the regular passing of cows who graze in the field opposite - as of yet none have popped in to buy a book.
Seven Stories, Newcastle
The Seven Stories Bookshop, part of Seven Stories, the National Centre for Children's Books in Newcastle (which (aptly) occupies a seven storey converted warehouse), is one of the largest independent children's bookshops in the UK.
The Centre holds a range of amazing events, currently featuring an exhibition of original illustrations, sketches and models by Jim Kay from the latest illustrated Harry Potter books, and the shop works with over 50 per cent of schools in the North East. Last year, BookTrust President Michael Morpurgo donated his entire archive to Seven Stories.
Storytellers Inc., Lancashire
Although Storytellers Inc. only has two staff - Katie and her mum, Carolyn - they pack quite a lot in, including regular book events, working with local schools and running eight different book clubs. Not bad for a pair who had no retail or industry experience prior to opening. The shop is tastefully curated to share the best in children's and adults books, including poetry and nonfiction, and families can come and enjoy reading in the special children's reading room.
Before life as a bookshop, the building was formerly a butchers where Carolyn used to buy the family's Christmas turkeys.