Midas Blog: Happy #IndieBookshopWeek!

20-27 June 2020

Happy Independent Bookshop Week! The brilliant annual celebration of independent bookshops across the UK and Ireland. Indie booksellers have been vital for building a sense of community during the lockdown despite the very challenging time for retailers. Booksellers showed their inventive colours to ensure book lovers across the country had access to authors and books during lockdown when they were forced to close – virtual events, orders taken virtually and delivered to customer’s door by bike and more – so this week it’s all about spreading the bookshop love!

How to support #IndieBookshopWeek: Search for your local bookshop here, check how they’re taking orders (in-store, online, phone, email, social media), buy a book and tag them on social media. Follow @BooksAreMyBag and #IndieBookshopWeek for updates.

The Midas team have shared their thoughts about why they love indies, their faves and more – enjoy!

Favourite thing about indie bookshops?

“The fact that they are fuelled by passion for books and people, rather than profit alone.”

“I love how individual indie bookshops are; you can really feel the personality of the people who run them. Books are a deeply personal artform, and to me they suit being in a space that is likewise personal.”

“The fact they directly serve the local community and offer such a different experience to the chains and online retailers. With high streets becoming more and more homogenised, they represent individuality and preserving local heritage.”

“I just love browsing in bookshops, discovering new things”

“Full of character, specialist knowledge, personal, centre of the local community, often in historic buildings, lots of nooks and crannies with hidden treasures waiting to be discovered”

“Their originality, the way the books are curated feels more unique.”

“Best thing about indie bookshops is the booksellers! They are so knowledgeable and seem to have read every book under the sun, which means they can make brilliant recommendations, whether it’s for adults or kids.”

“I love how knowledgeable and friendly indie booksellers are.”

“Personal attention and vested interest”

 

All-time favourite indie bookshop in the UK/Ireland, and why?

Brick Lane Bookshop (London) – they stock a great range of fiction, poetry, philosophy, art and travel, with a focus on local East End history and cultural diversity (Jewish, Bengali and Chinese in particular). Plus, you can combine your trip with visits to other Brick Lane legends like Beigel Bake and Rough Trade East record shop.”

“The Barnes Bookshop (London). It’s my local and I stay loyal to local as much as I can! The owner Ventia Vyvyan is good fun, and an industry stalwart. Judith Kerr lived around the corner and my kids would love the chance to see Judith there!”

“Mr B’s (Bath), because it truly is an emporium of reading delights. And it’s in my favourite English city: Bath.”

“St David’s Bookshop (Pembrokeshire) could be the smallest bookshop in the UK; it’s certainly located in its smallest city, which has a population of fewer than 1,800 people. Yet this gloriously idiosyncratic shop, opposite the cathedral, has another distinctive feature: it is run by the mayor of St David’s. Most subjects are represented, but the shop is especially good for natural history, archaeology, geology, the environment and Celtic history as they relate to Pembrokeshire. There’s lots of architectural and ecclesiastical history, books for Welsh learners and a children’s section packed with classics.”

“Daunt Books (Marylebone), it just feels like a secret cavern where you can get lost for hours, I love how they display their books and the way you can move around the space is great.”

“Really hard to choose. Almost impossible I would say. What I have on my list is to visit The Portobello Bookshop (Edinburgh), which looks dreamy inside and their team is just wonderful!”

“I like Riverside Books on Hay’s Galleria (London) – really friendly staff and perfect for passing time while waiting for a train.”

“White Horse Bookshop (Marlborough) – always helpful staff and supports Marlborough Lit Fest”

“Pitshanger Bookshop (Ealing) – because it’s my local indie!”

Daunts (Marylebone) – the glass skylight at the back is legendary and for good reason, it’s so beautiful. I also love the way the books are curated. Everything looks like it’s crying out to be bought!”

 

Last indie bookshop you visited?

Mr B’s, always an old favourite. I was in Bath for a weekend away mid-March, and visited Mr B’s not once, but twice in one day. Little did I know the country would be in lockdown the following week.”

“The last indie I actually went inside (rather than online ordering during lockdown) was Ex Libris (Bradford on Avon). I was lucky to have a thoroughly good browse the day before lockdown started. Visiting them again when this is over will be an ideal close to this chapter.”

Primrose Hill Books (London). We went to spend some book tokens the children had got for Christmas, then went to Lemonia for a Greek Sunday lunch, then a walk in Regents Park. This is a great day out if you’re looking for one.”

London Review Bookshop next to the British Museum”

 

Last book you purchased from an indie?

“Have bought loads of books through indies online – recent purchases are Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo, A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes and several Poirots to pass quarantine”

“Exile by James Swallow”

Take Me In by Sabine Durrant”

The Wizards of Once by Cressida Cowell”

A Bite of the Apple by Lennie Goodings”

The Five by Hallie Rubenhold”

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern”

The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse by Charlie Mackesy”

Crudo by Olivia Laing”

“Cold Mountain Poems: Zen Poems of Han Shan, Shih Te, and Wang Fan-chih”

 

Independent Bookshop Week is organised by the Booksellers Association (BA) and sponsored by Hachette.

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