One of the questions in the Strictly Writing Quickfire slot is ‘Independent bookshop or Amazon?’ and almost all our authors, agents and poets who answer this say they use both.
I’d love to say the same. But the truth is that I almost always buy books from my local Waterstones or from Amazon.
There, I’ve fessed up.
I love the idea of independent bookshops as much as the next person, but since my most local one closed, in Palmer’s Green, there simply wasn’t anywhere else within a mile or so of my home that I could go.
Recently, I spent a day with my Piccadilly Press publicist Andrea Reece travelling around North London to visit a bunch of indies to promote my debut novel for young people, Dark Ride. We even had special ‘Dark Ride’ chocolate, which went down very well. [Books and chocolate – what more could a person want?]
First up, we went to The Children’s Bookshop in Muswell Hill, then onto The Big Green Bookshop in Wood Green. From there we took a trip over Hackney to Victoria Park Books and then onto the Newham Bookshop in East London.
These are hard times in publishing and the insecurity and worry about the future is probably in inverse proportion to the amount of money these booksellers make. But what struck me in every single instance, was the huge passion and dedication on show from each and every one of the staff. There’s love in them thar shops. Not to mention a huge amount of expertise and an encylopaedic knowledge of books and publishing.
Being a complete geek about children’s and YA books I ended up having some great chats in each of the shops...and coming out with a handful of purchases in every case [I know, I know...point of this exercise was ultimately to MAKE money. But with such a lot of riches on offer, it was beyond my ability to resist.]
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not in any way criticising staff in the big chains and have personally always found them mostly helpful and enthusiastic. But this day out reminded me what was special about independents and why it would be a crying shame if every bookshop we went into was a clone of the next.