Books, books, glorious books…in praise of Indie Book Stores…

There we were, the 6’5″ nephew and myself, leaving Waterstone’s, Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow, UK last year without buying a book. What a triumph of willpower over two lots of biblio-addiction! And then –  a title caught my eye: Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops”

This book is irresistible!
This book is irresistible!

“Hang on a minute”, I said to the nephew, ” just a quick look. I won’t buy it, honest…”

However, after a fast flick revealed the following gems offered by its author, Jen Campbell : ‘Can books conduct electricity?’ ‘Did Beatrix Potter ever write a book about dinosaurs?’ ‘Excuse me… is this book edible?’ I gave in. Yes, Reader, you have guessed correctly. I bought it – and went on to have the best laugh I had had for ages, perusing (as one five-star reviewer memorably put it )‘… some absolute howlers from the misinformed beast that is the general public…’

This affecting little tale is offered to demonstrate two things. One, the fundamentally irresistible nature of books to book addicts, in this case the nephew and myself.( It is always a great comfort to share book addiction with a fellow spirit). And two, the importance of having a good bookshop in your local area into which you can stroll any time you feel like distracting yourself from Life’s Onerous Challenges (fill in according to your particular current oppression). If there is also good coffee on offer, so much the better.

The above will explain why I could barely contain my excitement over this summer on finding out that an independent bookshop, ie a new branch of Waterstones,  was returning to Byres Road, Glasgow, about fifteen years after our much loved and lamented local John Smith’s bookshop had fallen victim to the march of regress.

The shop has received a warm welcome from shoppers in Glasgow’s West End. “Almost every single person who has come in has complimented the staff, the store and the fact that we’re here,” reported bookshop manager Xavier Jones-Barlow shortly after the shop opened on 29th August. The following day, I was fortunate to capture a moment of fun and frolic whilst passing by.

No, not Hallowe'en...
No, not Hallowe’en…

 No, I was assured, it wasn’t Hallowe’en in a time warp. It was a book launch. Waterstones has started as it means to go on!

What is the indie book situation where you live? I’d be most interested to know. I found a cheering article from earlier this year on USA’s The Daily Beast, titled Indie Bookstores Are Finally Not Dying , which carried the following optimistic comment: “In reality more bookstores have opened than closed in the last couple of years in the U.S. They have always been and will always be anchors in many communities.”

So – let’s all go out there and support our local bookstores, shall we? And the next time I visit your  friendly and brilliantly well-stocked Waterstones store, Xavier, I promise the nephew and I will buy at least one book each…


500 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2015/”Witches” Photo copyright Anne Whitaker 2015
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page


6 thoughts on “Books, books, glorious books…in praise of Indie Book Stores…

  1. I MUST go and visit Anne!! The book sounds amazing, having worked with the Great British Public for many years, nothing would surprise me but there is much humour in the things they come out with. CxXx

    1. Sitting in that very bookshop having a coffee and a browse, right now! As you may gather, good coffee makes practising what one preaches, much easier…Many thanks for dropping by, Carole! Maybe we can meet HERE for our next coffee date…😎 X

  2. I love the Indies! Thanks for sharing this, Anne. Here, amazingly, there is still one Indie bookstore in the slowly revitalizing downtown (small to medium sized city along New York’s ‘Southern Tier’ region).

    That’s a very heartening headline from The Daily Beast … perhaps it’s the pendulum swinging back, as people have had more opportunity to see the benefits, and shortfalls, of the online booksellers and digital ‘books’?
    xoxo Jamie

    1. Thanks for dropping by with your feedback, Jamie! Yes, perhaps the tide is turning…I certainly hope so. And – I may own a Kindle, but I still prefer getting into and thoroughly reading an actual book. I’m afraid I read with a pencil in my hand, excitedly circling pages with good quotes on them, underlining the quotes, writing comments endorsing/disagreeing with the author, etc etc. I think books should LOOK read. And you can’t do any of that with a Kindle…

  3. Amen to all you’ve said about a Kindle. I have mine, and I had particular reasons for buying it, but it never, ever, in forever, will replace a real book. For one thing, you can’t use the Kindle for research. The process of note taking and such is just too awkward. And many (most!) of the books I want to dip into aren’t available, as they’re historical and not much in demand.

    But indie bookstores? There’s nothing better. I know there are several good ones in Houston. We had one, but the owners were quite old, and I haven’t seen the “Open” sign hanging recently. I’ll make it a point to explore this week, and find out what’s up.

    I’ve taken it one step further, and have supported an indie publisher with the purchase of three books. They’re in the process of bringing back important, out-of-print books about Texas. There will be a post about them one of these days, along with some photos of what I think of as my biblio-pearls. Their price is great enough to justify the comparison, but they’ve given great pleasure.

  4. Thanks for endorsing my views on Kindle, Linda. I am sure there are plenty of other good folk out there who feel just the same. And kudos to you for supporting the indies! I look forward to another of your unique voyages into territory I would never otherwise have heard of…

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