Jen Campbell – The Bookshop Book

We read so much these days, more than we’ve ever done before. We’re snowed under with emails, social networkdsand many others things that have us constantly reading on many different devices. We have so many of the books in the world available to us for a small price at the touch of a button, yet for many of us there’s still nothing than can compare with browsing really good bookshops and taking home a few treats. The Bookshop Book acts as a great tribute to the many different stores that exist across the world.

The closest one to myself that gets mentioned a few times is No Alibis in Belfast. John Connolly loves the welcome he gets when he arrives and gets offered tea and biscuits. It’s also mentioned by Ian Rankin, who says he’d love to open a shop that sold both books and vinyl. Indeed, the book is littered with all kinds of tales of what various authors and other figures love about particular bookshops and what their ideal vision of one would be.

Rachel Joyce talks about the joy of picking up books and deciding which to buy. Ali Smith says the independent shops are able to do the things the chains are afraid to and also talks of the feeling when you find one that really captures your attention and you know you have to take it home. This tactile element of things is also brought up by Tracy Chevalier; she says our lives are becoming more convenient but less tangible. She has an ereader but she doesn’t associate it with time and place the way she does with a physical book.

The book also features key industry players like James Daunt, who has some words on the future of books. The need for curation comes up time and again in The Bookshop Book. A small shop may not have what you want but you’ll always find something of interest that you weren’t previously aware of. We have access to everything online but it can all blur into one and sometimes it’s better to see a smaller range of titles and happen upon something that can take us to completely new places.

Campbells’ book is full of interesting facts about shops and all the weird and wonderful ones that she’s become aware of, from shops on barges to those that serve almost as local community centres. She’s covered all bases here and this book will appeal to all book lovers. The only mistake I made with it was I raced through it perhaps a bit too quickly. A book like this would be enjoyed better if you dipped in and out of it over time and savoured all the different facts, tales and anecdotes.

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