The Diary of a Bookseller: my perfect bookshop

Where I live, there aren’t really a lot of options when it comes to bookshops. There was one, The Forest Bookshop, but that closed down, and other than that it’s just libraries. But even then they don’t have the greatest stock. Each city near me has a Waterstones which I love, but it’s not the same as an independent store full of hidden gems.

When I moved to Bath, I fell in love with the number of bookshops that I found. Topping & Company is my favourite, books of every genre imaginable, signed editions, events, all complete with a cup of tea to drink while you browse. It is the closest to my perfect bookshop that I’ve found so far.

I recently read The Diary of a Bookseller, and it got me thinking about what it’d be like to own a bookshop. How big would it be? Would it be second-hand, which genres would it sell? What would it look like?

I’ve written down some of the key characteristics that my bookshop would have, but I’m pretty sure they’ll change over time. Right now though it sounds like the perfect place for me to be right now, so warm and cosy and, of course, filled with books!

Tea and coffee station

There is a well known quote, ‘The secret to a well balanced life is a cup of tea in one hand and a book in the other’, and it’s fair to say that no truer words have been spoken here. I want my bookshop to feel cosy and inviting, and the ultimate way to welcome someone is with a hot beverage. Served in the prettiests cups, all mix and match and related to books one way or another, in a variety of sizes (the biggest mugs will always be used for hot chocolates, served with cream and marshmallows, obviously) with a few biscuits or chunks of chocolates. Teapots for tea, and cafetieres for coffee.

Unless it’s a latte, in which case it shall be made with the most instagrammable coffee art ever.

Armchairs

One cannot be expected to walk around trying to carry a handful of books and a hot drink in my bookshop. Soft armchairs complete with throws will be dotted throughout the store.

A fireplace

I’m that type of person who is always cold, and so a fireplace is essential. My bookshop would be quite big, so there will be some heaters here and there as well, but the main space will have an extravagant fireplace to keep my bookshop warm. There wouldn’t be any music, so the crisp snap of a blazing fire will add to the cosy atmosphere. And it can easily be decorated for celebrations, like a wreath at Christmas or ‘cobwebs’ at Halloween.

Ladders

My bookshop will have more books than anyone can imagine, and visitors will need to reach them all.

One of my favourite scenes from Beauty and the Beast is when Belle is in the bookshop on a wheelie ladder that glides along the shelves. I think having a few of those will be perfect in my shop, and I’m sure bookworms would be very excited to see them. It adds a fun aspect to my bookstore.

Second hand books

My bookshop would consist of both new and used books. Even though I’m not a fan of used books myself just because I don’t like folded pages, creased bindings, etc, I love the idea of a book being passed from person to person in its life. And I don’t write in my books, but sometimes seeing other people’s annotations can be cool, especially if it has some sort of meaning.

Plus, coming from someone who has way too many books, second hand bookshops are a great way to get rid of books that you don’t have room for, so I’d love to help people clear their shelves!

Book recommendations

I love book recommendations. When it comes to finding a new read, blurbs aren’t helpful. I prefer it when someone says to me ‘If you like so-and-so, you’ll love this book!”. I’d have little signs or posters dotted around, swapping them regularly for different books. I’d also include one in every online newsletter that I’d write (Customers can sign up to them so they can hear about the bookish events I’d hold!).

Open from early in the morning until late in the evening

I’m talking maybe 8am-10pm. I remember at Bath leaving work at 6pm and everything would be closed. For those who have busier lives than me, how do they find time to run to their local bookshop? Plus, imagine spending a cold winter evening sat in a bookshop, next to the fire surrounded by endless cups of tea and books. I’d never leave.

Now that I have a plan, I just need to win the lottery to get the ball rolling.

Do you ever consider running a bookshop? What would it be like? What are your favourite stores to visit?

#bedofbooks: That Annoying Instagram Trend

bed of books

I love books.

I love reading books. I love looking at books (as well as book blogs). I love just having them in the house. And I love taking pictures of books. Even if that means opening them up and placing them on the floor while I lie on top of them. I might even add a cup of tea as well.

That’s fine because they are my books. I’ll do what I want with them. I purchased them; therefore I can choose what happens to them.

However, according to Hillary Kelly at Vulture, this is nothing more than an annoying trend that is ‘anti-intellectual’ and ‘shorn of meaning.’

I am new to the Bookstagram community, but I was not aware that there are apparently rules to follow. I did not realise that I must only take photos that invite my followers to ‘enjoy or critique or loathe or interrogate the books’ (even though I have had many discussions in the comments of my photos, as well as the accounts that I follow). I certainly had no idea that there are guidelines when it comes to book art and photography. Forgive me for not thinking that creativity is locked in a prison where there is nothing but rules and restrictions. I thought that creativity is simultaneously fun and beautiful.

Usually, I’m not bothered by what people think about my photos. I post pictures that I like and about books that I want to talk about. And as far as I know, pretty much every bookstagrammer feels this way. So the fact someone can be so vexed over a photo of books is just completely beyond me.

Instagram is nothing more than a bit of fun, an outlet. For many, it is how they make their living. For others, it’s what helps keep them reading. But no matter why we do it, bookstagrammers have one thing in common: we love books. And we want to share that.

I haven’t been part of the bookstagram community for very long, but I can already say that every bookstagrammer that I have spoken to has been lovely, engaging and supportive.

So the fact that there are people out there who feel the need to tear us down does offend me, especially when they insult our intelligence.

I like books, others like books, and we want to take photos with them. Whether we have read them or not. And I don’t see anything wrong with that.