Category Independent Booksellers

IBW 2016INDIE BOOKSHOP WEEK – Day 5

#IBW2016

On day 5 Lisa travels outside London, all the way up to the Scottish Borders:

 

 

 

I’d like to celebrate not one, but many, independent book shops in the Scottish Borders.
I was lucky enough to be at the Borders Book Festival in Melrose at the start of IBW (yes, marvellous – thanks for asking). It’s always great to be up in Scotland and the Borders Festival is one of my favourites. For those of you who don’t know that most beautiful part of the world (think Sir Walter Scott/Abbotsford and rolling postcardy green hills) it’s especially well served by independent bookshops. In fact there is a Borders book trail featuring some of the best independent book shops in Scotland, if not the UK, if not the universe. There are some fabulous local bookshops on the trail from Mainstreet Trading Company in St Boswells to Masons of Melrose.

Taking time out from the packed book tent at the book festival in Melrose, I walked down the pretty streets to visit Mason’s (which has recently had a smart do-over). Two women coming out of the shop said ‘Oh I do love an independent bookshop, we must keep supporting them’ ‘Ooh yes, said her friend, clutching a book bag’. Well said m’dears, but I was spooked by the coincidence. I think it’s the mark of a good bookshop to have a full display of the best of new fiction and as a fully paid-up member of the Rose Tremain Appreciation Society I happily succumbed to THE GUSTAV SONATA and the inevitable 12 post and greetings cards. I was also very tempted by THE ESSEX SERPENT (Sarah Perry) and GOLDEN HILL (Francis Spufford).

Back to the book tent which was heaving with people buying, signing and talking about books. I think that a festival book tent is one of my favourite places in the world, along with John Lewis and my sofa. It’s thanks to the enthusiasm of readers, writers, and energetic and imaginative booksellers that we have these special places. Long may they thrive.

Find out more about Independent Bookshop Week here. And discover the Borders Book festival here: http://www.bordersbookfestival.org/

IBW2016 - Borders

 

IBW2016 - Borders

IBW2016 - Borders

IBW2016 - Borders

IBW 2016INDIE BOOKSHOP WEEK – Day 4

#IBW2016

Time for something slightly different: for our day 4 we visited London indie comic book Gosh! London.

Fede reports:

 

I didn’t really know I was a fan of graphic novels until I published The Arab of the Future by Riad Sattouf earlier this year (find out more here) and I was introduced to this incredible world. The brilliant people at Gosh! London were very supportive of Riad’s book, and I decided to repay the favour by paying them a visit and celebrate them as part of this year’s Independent Bookshop Week. After all they have a pretty impressive pedigree:

“With a 25-year track record in the industry and enthusiastic, knowledgeable staff, Gosh! Comics remains London’s must-visit store for those who love the medium. From translated European albums to mainstream superhero antics; vintage children’s books to contemporary graphic fiction; compulsively readable manga to cutting edge small press: we’ve got something for everyone.”

And it’s so true. The shop is divided over two floors: the lower ground space mostly holds the kind of comic the uninitiated would classify as ‘geeky’ (think superheroes and manga, including some real gems like a Japanese adaptation of the popular TV series Sherlock). The ground floor has got an incredible range of graphic novels and memoirs, ranging from the classics (Art Spiegelman’s Maus, Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis to name but two), to independently-printed anthologies.

Nora, one of the shop’s booksellers, was literally bubbling with excitement when I told her I wanted to buy a couple of books and needed her help. After a quick test to see what I like reading (‘quirky literary’ was the diagnosis) she suggested the following:

ASTERIOS POLYP by David Mazzucchelli, a tale of an architect fleeing New York after a fire destroys his apartment.

FOR AS LONG AS IT RAINS by Zviane, the story of two lovers and their last night together.

DEAD SINGERS SOCIETY (vol 1), an anthology edited by Paddy Johnston (who is actually one of our colleagues here at Hachette UK!)

The shop also runs a series of events (check their blog here: http://www.goshlondon.com/blog/) and is very active in the graphic community.

So next time you’re looking for something a bit off the beaten track, give Gosh! a go: you will be pleasantly surprised.’

Find out more about Independent Bookshop Week here. And get in touch with Pages of Hackney directly to buy/order a book and support independent retailers: http://www.goshlondon.com/contact/

IBW2016 - Gosh

 

IBW2016 - Gosh

 

IBW2016 - Gosh

IBW2016 - Gosh

IBW2016 - Gosh

 

 

IBW 2016INDIE BOOKSHOP WEEK – Day 3

#IBW2016

Another day, another bookshop.

This time Kate pops in her new local indie, Burley Fisher Books in Haggerston:

 

A few months ago, a little bookshop opened just over the road from where I live in Hackney. Hooray! Books on my doorstep! Over the last few months I’ve dipped into Burley Fisher frequently, but, alas, I’ve just moved and they’re no longer my local, so I thought I’d pick them as my IBW2016 in a slightly gloomy, farewell-to-Hackney-are-there-any-bookshops-in-Wandsworth sort of a way.

Nestled between a kebab shop and a corner shop (of course!), Burley Fisher is an eclectic, bespoke bookshop, with some fabulous and unique displays. They also have a lovely, quiet café with some great coffee on offer – the perfect place for perusing your purchases. Run by Jason Burley and Sam Fisher of Camden Lock Books, this is a bookshop with a great pedigree, but with a really fresh feel.

I came away with two entirely unrelated, entirely unplanned purchases – Edward Gorey’s THE DOUBTFUL GUEST, a darkly absurd illustrated book about a distinctly penguin-ish creature that moves in with an aristocratic family, and EVERY GRAIN OF RICE by Fuchsia Dunlop, a primer on Chinese (particularly Sichuan) cooking, simply because the illustrated/cookery table at Burley Fisher looked SO good.

Find out more about Independent Bookshop Week here. And get in touch with Pages of Hackney directly to buy/order a book and support independent retailers: http://burleyfisherbooks.com/shop/

IBW2016 - Burley Fisher

 

IBW2016 - Burley Fisher

 

IBW2016 - Burley Fisher

 

IBW2016 - Burley Fisher

 

IBW2016 - Burley Fisher

IBW 2016INDIE BOOKSHOP WEEK – Day 2

#IBW2016

Our Independent Bookshop Tour continues with a visit to Hackney indie bookshop Pages of Hackney.

Ruby, part of the Two Roads publicity team, went to explore the shop:

 

 

Pages of Hackney is sandwiched between Spice & Grill and a newsagent on Lower Clapton Road, a busy street in North East London. It’s my local, a ten min stroll from my house and a great place for a bookstore; there are two lovely parks within walking distance or if you like beer with your books, the Windsor Castle, a good pub just across the road. I have spent many a day in all.

I popped in on a Saturday, and Manon recommended three books to me. It was a nice surprise to meet Manon, a fellow Antipodean also from Auckland. She used to work at Time Out Bookstore, which is a fantastic independent bookstore sitting under the shadow of a mountain in Mt Eden Village. So while we bonded over people we knew, and our experiences of living in London, I squeezed in a request for recommendations of books to buy. And I came away with some good ones:

THE GIRLS by Emma Cline – a book very recently published, and described by the Telegraph as a ‘trance-like portrait of the Manson family’. I am resisting reading this right now so I can save it for my holiday next month.

THE ARGONAUTS by Maggie Nelson – a genre-bending memoir, Nelson tells a love story and channels public intellectuals such as Susan Sontag and Roland Barthes.

10: 04 by Ben Lerner – the second novel by this author and recommended to me for its fractured narrative.

The shop has an intimate event space downstairs which also sells vinyl and second hand books and truly felt like someone’s living room (see pic of comfy couches). Their larger events are held down the road at Sutton House and it’s clear when you check out their events schedule that they have incredibly thoughtful programming (find out more here: http://pagesofhackney.co.uk/?page_id=165). There are many events which include local authors on topical themes as well as talks which showcase new releases.
By the time I left with a laden bag, Pages of Hackney was brimming with people of Hackney (and beyond) and I was squeezing between books and bodies to get out.

Find out more about Independent Bookshop Week here. And get in touch with Pages of Hackney directly to buy/order a book and support independent retailers: http://pagesofhackney.co.uk/?page_id=946

IBW2016 - Pages of Hackney

IBW2016 - Pages of Hackney

IBW2016 - Pages of Hackney

IBW2016 - Pages of Hackney

IBW2016 - Pages of Hackney

 

IBW 2016INDIE BOOKSHOP WEEK – Day 1

#IBW2016

We kick-start the 2016 edition of our Independent Bookshop Tour with a visit to new Highbury indie INK @ 84, Fede’s new local bookshop:

 

 

FINALLY!

That’s what I thought as soon as a sign advertising the opening of a new bookshop in Highbury went up. It was wonderful to see books take over what had been yet another estate agent: it happened last December, just a few weeks before Christmas, but INK@84 already feels like an established part of the community.

Opened and run by artist Tessa Shaw and author Betsy Tobin, it’s a small but welcoming and beautifully bright shop filled with a brilliant selection of books. The majority of the bookshop is devoted to fiction and non-fiction, but there’s also a colourful children’s section, a graphic-novels shelf and travel and cookery sections.

The shops also sells a range of quirky and truly original stationery and – major bonus – functions as a coffee shop/cocktail bar. All the drinks are locally sourced: the coffee comes from Shoreditch roastery Nude Espresso, the natural sodas are supplied by Square Root London, the beer by Hammerton Brewery and the gin by Sacred Microdistillery.

But the focus is, of course, books. And Tessa and Betsy are incredibly passionate about literature. When I visited they spent an hour trying to find the perfect book recommendation: their taste is eclectic, ranging from the latest paperback to intriguing classic; from debut authors to established names; from graphic memoirs to crime and thrillers. And they champion authors by organising well-attended events: a list of recent names includes Chris Cleave and Louise Doughty (sign up to their newsletter here: http://www.ink84bookshop.co.uk/#!find-us/c24vq).

I left the shop with two new books: BLACK WATER, the brand new dark tale by Louise Doughty, and LONESOME DOVE, the classic western novel by Larry McMurtry. A slightly odd duo, but that’s the joy of indie bookshops recommendations, right? Summer reading, here I come…

PS: special thanks to Tessa and Betsy who put up a glorious IBW display a couple of days early so that I could take a few pictures!

Find out more about Independent Bookshop Week here. And get in touch with Ink@84 directly to buy/order a book and support independent retailers: http://www.ink84bookshop.co.uk/#!find-us/c24vq

IBW2016 - Ink@84

 

IBW2016 - Ink@84

 

IBW2016 - Ink@84IBW2016 - Ink@84

IBW2016 - Ink@84

Independent Booksellers Week might be over but doesn’t mean you can’t support your local indie when shopping for your summer reading books.

And of course, Two Roads is here to make finding that independent bookshop super easy. We’ve put together a map of all the bookshops we’ve visited as part of our IBW Indie Tour (2014 and 2015 editions), complete with London locations, pictures and links.

All you have to do is click on the map below.

For a more comprehensive list of independents try this.

IBW Two Roads Indies Map

#IBW2015 Two Roads Indie TourINDIE BOOKSHOP WEEK – Day 5

#IBW2015 #GIVEABOOK

Day 5 of our Indie Tour is upon us and we’ve got a treat for you: follow our Publicist Yassine as he pays a visit to Brick Lane Bookshop

Pungent smells of turmeric and spiced onions mingle in the air over the lower end of Brick Lane as I walk up from Aldgate East tube station. Dancing past the curry-house waiters who try to tempt you in with promises of 25% off your bill, a much more tempting mainstay of Brick Lane can be found up ahead – Brick Lane Bookshop. Located at 166 Brick Lane, this is a small bookshop in terms of space but its bookshelves have a pulsating array of texts – ranging from children’s books to classic texts to London history to contemporary fiction. The time I spent scanning the shelves and tables and speaking to the owner Denise Jones found me feeling that this is a bookshop that is assured in its identity and proud of its history.

Brick Lane Bookshop was originally known as the Tower Hamlets Arts Project (THAP), later to be known as Eastside, with Brick Lane Bookshop being the latest incarnation. The shop started out in the early 1970s when there was not a single bookshop in Tower Hamlets. As the owner Denise Jones has said, ‘There was a group of local people who were not prepared to put up with this we realised that we would have to start one – but start small.’ This determination to put right a visible wrong has clearly stuck and fuels the bookshop’s ethos to take books out into the community. This is evident in the bookshop supplying books to local schools, having stalls at school author events as well as having author events at the bookshop and conducting its own reading group every month.

I walked away with three titles that were recommended to me by Denise. The first was Rebel Footprints: A Guide to Uncovering London’s Radical History by David Rosenberg (Pluto Press) which is a book that looks at periods in London history where dissenters have tried to usurp the Establishment. Each historical episode is then followed up by a map and route that you can walk in the footsteps of past heroes. I was also handed the sublimely designed pamphlet for Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s essay We Should All Be Feminists (Fourth Estate) – a well-crafted treatise on gender inequality in society and how he can set about curing such disparity through an increase in awareness and inclusion. Probably my favourite of Denise’s recommendations was The Diary of Edward the Hamster, 1990 to 1990 (Boxtree) by Miriam Elia and Ezra Elia – a tragic, comic, and stirring read of poet/philosopher Edward the Hamster’s journals during his days in caged confinement. Existential angst pours out of each entry, replete with beautiful monochromatic illustrations – a diary that make you laugh and think in equal measure. Each of these recommendations echoed the identity of Brick Lane Bookshop – one that believes in the power of words and books in making us more socially conscious. For a bookshop that is such a part of its immediate community, I hope those further afield will flock to visit.

Brick Lane Bookshop - Two Roads IBW indie tour day 2

Brick Lane Bookshop - Two Roads IBW indie tour day 2Brick Lane Bookshop - Two Roads IBW indie tour day 2

Brick Lane Bookshop - Two Roads IBW indie tour day 2

Come back tomorrow for our next stop and find out more about Independent Bookshop Week at indiebookshopweek.com.

Slightly Foxed - Two Roads IBW indie tour day 1

 

#IBW2015 Two Roads Indie TourINDIE BOOKSHOP WEEK – Day 4

#IBW2015 #GIVEABOOK

Time to head North (at least North London) for the fourth day in our Indie Tour and visit another fantastic independent bookshop, the Stoke Newington Bookshop in (you guessed it) Stokey! This is our Assistant Editor Fede’s local and that’s where he gets all his Hive purchases delivered (find out more about the free service here). Read his blog below and see why this is such a brilliant example of a truly creative indie:

It’s always such a joy to go through the doors of the Stoke Newington Bookshop: first of all it’s just a quick walk away from my flat, in one of London’s most up-and-coming and lively neighbourhoods; and then they always have a wonderful selection of titles in the shop, ranging from exciting new hardback fiction and non-fiction to the latest bestselling paperbacks, from slighlty obscure literature in translation to colourful children books.

The bookshop was in particularly fine form when I visited, with a glorious Independent Bookshop Week window display – all that orange is really eye-catching – and some fun tables inside too. I spoke with Anthony, one of the booksellers, who talked me through the various initiatives organised for IBW 2015. My absolute favourite was the display on one of the main tables, a map of the UK and Ireland with indie book picks from all over the country: the bookshop’s owner, Jo Adams, had personally called colleagues up and down the country – London, Wales, the North, Scotland, Ireland – to ask for the one book they are desperate for people to read. A treasure trove of smart and surprising recommendations. Completely genius.

I then asked the question: what would Anthony recommend? A simple question, and yet he had read so many excellent books recently that for a moment he was slightly overwhelmed by the different options. Now that is the sign of a passionate bookseller! In the end he picked two: Neil Smith’s debut novel BOO, which I had never heard of but sounded beautifully quirky, and one of Hoxton Mini Press’ terrific little books, Martin Usborne’s I’VE LIVED IN EAST LONDON FOR 86 AND A HALF YEARS, which promised to be a fun and poignant read.

Stoke Newington Bookshop - Two Roads IBW indie tour day 2

Stoke Newington Bookshop - Two Roads IBW indie tour day 2Stoke Newington Bookshop - Two Roads IBW indie tour day 2

 

Stoke Newington Bookshop - Two Roads IBW indie tour day 2

Stoke Newington Bookshop - Two Roads IBW indie tour day 2

Come back tomorrow for our next stop and find out more about Independent Bookshop Week at indiebookshopweek.com.

Slightly Foxed - Two Roads IBW indie tour day 1

#IBW2015 Two Roads Indie Tour

INDIE BOOKSHOP WEEK – Day 3

#IBW2015 #GIVEABOOK

If there’s one thing that’s absolutely brilliant about our new offices on Victoria Embankment is that we are so close to the Southbank. So it seemed only fair that we go across the river for Day 3 of our IBW 2015 Indie Tour and say hi to the great people at the Southbank Centre branch of Foyles. Find out what Rosie – our Publicity Director – loved about this bookshop below:

You can almost – almost – wave to Foyles Southbank from Two Roads’ new home in Carmelite House and what better way to make an IBW book buying visit to our new neighbours than a summer night stroll along the Thames? After crossing Blackfriars Bridge and resisting the temptations of the Wahaca burrito truck, I arrived to find a busy Foyles on Belvedere Road.

Laid out on one floor and joining on to the busy Southbank Centre, it’s an airy space with a wide selection of titles, with bestsellers and new releases welcoming you at the door, and a large children’s section stretching across the shop. They hold launch parties here fairly regularly (no wonder, it’s a great spot for an evening drink, and you’re unlikely to find space anywhere else if the sun is out…) and have lots of signed copies, courtesy of the bookselling they do for the Southbank literature programme events.  Despite the fact that this is one of London’s busiest tourist hotspots, the very helpful staff tell me that they do have regulars, as well as the theatre goers and Southbank flaneurs.

I met manager Emily and her colleagues Nick and Kajra. When I asked them for recommendations, it was quickly clear they’re a brilliantly informed and enthusiastic team – Nick was able to tell me  more about the publication of THE VORHH by Brian Catling (a book from within the Hodder group) than I knew already! Interesting to hear that THE EXAMINED LIFE by Stephen Gross remains one of their bestsellers, over two years on from its original publication date – with Ali Smith’s HOW TO BE BOTH a more obvious recent popular title.

I came away with a copy of Theodore Zeldin’s LIFE (more for the unusual format than the content…) and THE VERSIONS OF US by Laura Barnett, another title that is currently doing well for them, and is headed for the beach with me. Given that the office is only a 15min walk away I intend to reclaim my lunch hour every now and then to cross the river more often…

Foyles Southbank - Two Roads IBW indie tour day 2

Foyles Southbank - Two Roads IBW indie tour day 2

Foyles Southbank - Two Roads IBW indie tour day 2

Foyles Southbank - Two Roads IBW indie tour day 2

Foyles Southbank - Two Roads IBW indie tour day 2

Come back tomorrow for our next stop and find out more about Independent Bookshop Week at indiebookshopweek.com.

Slightly Foxed - Two Roads IBW indie tour day 1

#IBW2015 Two Roads Indie Tour

INDIE BOOKSHOP WEEK – Day 2

#IBW2015 #GIVEABOOK

Day 2 of our Indie Tour and our Publicity Manager Lyndsey was ready for a lunchtime stroll to Daunts Books Cheapside, one of the six locations of this London independent mini-chain. Here’s what she had to say:

On a rainy and not so summery lunch break, a colleague and I strolled over to the newest Daunt Books in Cheapside.

As with all the Daunt Books shop, it had beautiful bookshelves, lovely wooden floors and a huge array of books. We went during a busy lunchtime and the shop was full of a mix of people – businessmen on their break, tourists browsing the shelves and taking their time to choose their books and a lot of loyal customers who seemed to have a great relationship with the bookshop team.

The ground floor area is full of their bestsellers and non fiction titles, while downstairs is an Aladdin’s cave of fiction and travel titles. You do feel like you could spend hours downstairs discovering new books to add to your ‘to be read’ pile and also planning your once in a lifetime holiday away just by looking through the travel section.

I came away with two books, the new adult novel by Judy Blume, IN THE UNLIKELY EVENT, and Seni Glaister’s THE MUSEUM OF THINGS LEFT BEHIND which has a truly beautiful cover. Oh, and one of Daunts’ famous tote bags, of course!

Daunts Cheapside - Two Roads IBW indie tour day 2

Daunts Cheapside - Two Roads IBW indie tour day 2

Daunts Cheapside - Two Roads IBW indie tour day 2

Daunts Cheapside - Two Roads IBW indie tour day 2

Come back tomorrow for our next stop and find out more about Independent Bookshop Week at indiebookshopweek.com.

Slightly Foxed - Two Roads IBW indie tour day 1

 

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