Indie Love

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.


Julie P said...

I love the quirkiness and uniqueness of these indie book shops - you just don't get the same atmosphee in the larger chains.

Julie xx

Luisa Plaja said...

It's wonderful to hear about all these great bookshops. I'm sure I wouldn't have been able to resist buying lots of books either!

Caroline Green said...

I agree that the atmosphere is something special, Julie.

Luisa, the thing that also struck me was that I bought great books that I hadn;t come across before.

Susie Nott-Bower said...

Hear, hear, Caroline! Indies really mind about their customers in a personal kind of way.

Anonymous said...

The last indie shop i went to specialized in manga and comics and it was great browsing around. But times as hard as they are, for me Amazon is the only choice at the moment - especially as both my kids read voraciously and seem to have read everything suitable, at the mo, in the local charity shops.

I don't know what the answer is, during a recession, but when i can get a book for half the price online, it is difficult to justify buying it elsewhere.

Glad you had a good day, Caroline!


Lindsay said...

It's so sad we are losing our independent bookshops. I too used to go to the one in Palmers Green, and know The Big Green and Muswell Hill shops. Hope your novel does really well at both of these!

DT said...

It's great to know that indies are holding their own, Caroline. Did you notice any correlation between what you bought and what they ordered?

Emily Gale said...

Two huge chains, Borders and Angus & Robertson, very recently closed down here in Oz, while independent small chain Readings (aka my church) have survived and appear to be thriving. Each branch has its own personality and a brilliant set of staff. Seems to me they haven't been too greedy - they look like bookshops, not supermarkets.

Caroline Green said...

Thanks for your comments, everyone. Not sure what you meant there Derek...?