Bookshop Tour on Four Wheels – Book Corner, Saltburn
I found another accessible bookshop to investigate with Morgan, my trusty powerchair. Book Corner is a small bookshop in the coastal town of Saltburn in the north east, but packs a mighty punch! It points out on its website https://bookcornershop.co.uk/about-us/ that it specialises in contemporary fiction for adults and children, and I can certainly agree that it had an impressive range of very new releases, as well as some older books at reduced prices. There was a tiny step which I could easily negotiate on Morgan, and I received a very friendly welcome as I happily admired the array of books. I loaded up a couple of bags with my discoveries! It is a lovely little town to visit and the bookshop was a real find!
I am always on the lookout for bookshops – especially independent ones- that are accessible for my trusty powerchair Morgan. So I was delighted to discover Chorlton bookshop in a lovely highstreet just outside central Manchester. On their website https://chorltonbookshop.co.uk/ they call the shop “small, but perfectly formed” and it certainly is in every way. It has books around the walls, as well as quite a complex construction in the middle which offers discounted books among other goodies. A quick inspection of the website shows how they also sell book related items, cards and even high quality toys. I was also pleased to see an emphasis on local books, guides, history and novels. It was a treat to visit this lovely local shop with its no fuss access and tremendous range of books.
Bookshop Tour on Four Wheels – Bearded Badger Bookshop, Belper, Derbyshire
My latest Bookshop visit was to a shop that closed the following day – I didn’t cause it, but I am a bit sad that it took me until the penultimate day to find it. In my defence I was a bit diverted by positive LFT tests and life in general. Although the bookshop may have gone, Paul the owner assures me there will be pop up and other ventures to look forward to in the future. Also, as he is www.beardedbadgerpublishing.com I am hopeful that he will continue to publish books, such as one I picked up while I was there “Step Forward, Harry Salt” by Ross Lowe, which I am greatly looking forward to reading soon. (More details and available on the website)
So why feature a bookshop that is no longer operating? Well, as you can see it was in a little shopping arcade in Belper, Derbyshire (The 1924 Building), which features an very friendly hairdresser (S24) and a wool/ craft shop (MaD Handmade Designs –www.MadHM.UK ) among other units which are still operating – all small businesses which deserve support.
Secondly, although it was a tiny bookshop Paul was able to offer access for Morgan, my trusty powerchair, offered advice and ordering, as well as Independently Published and local books. It was obviously a friendly place which people enjoyed visiting and all of these attributes make for a good shop. So, please, if you achieve the dream of setting up a bookshop, please think about access as well as all the multitudes of other things. As I said in my recent talk celebrating accessible bookshops – the best ones are at the heart of the community because they welcome everyone!
Bookshop Tour on Four Wheels – Fox Books, Leicester
It’s been a while since I posted a Bookshop Tour Post, but in the meantime I have given a talk on my adventures, at which one person commented that she thought it would be a list of complaints, and she was pleased to hear about such lovely shops! I have certainly found that if I can get into the shop with Morgan, my trusty powerchair, the people are very friendly!!
Today’s shop is a small one in a newer shopping area in Leicester. It is a lovely accessible bookshop with plenty of space inside as well as a flat entrance with a wide door. The friendly owner was willing to help and chat, telling us how he has opened the shop fairly recently and was so pleased to have held the first event recently. He was more than happy to use his magic device for contactless payment so I was not left to struggle with accessing the till. Altogether a great place to buy books for myself and as gifts. Leicester certainly seemed a busy place and this shop deserves to do well.
Many independent bookshops claim – with justification – to be the centre of their community, and my Bookshop Tour on Four Wheels visit to Nantwich Bookshop on a Saturday morning proved that this bookshop was certainly busy! As we approached the awning covered area outside the shop which is filled with tables for coffee and cakes, we were asked politely if we were looking for a table. Northernvicar may have been swayed, but he knew I was keen to discover the books first! A flat entrance and wide door beckoned, with many places to sit and enjoy the refreshments on offer. I had a good look at the shelves, including a display of new fiction hardbacks (pictured) and older fiction books at the back of the shop. There were also some tempting non fiction and local titles on offer. The staff were very friendly, and gave me a bookmark celebrating the efforts of customers over the last couple of years. It also pointed out that it offered such appealing things as Author events and Overnight Book Ordering.
Altogether this is a friendly shop which I enjoyed visiting with Morgan, my trusty powerchair!
Bookshop Tour on Four Wheels – Drake, The Bookshop, Stockton
I discover bookshops that may be accessible by various means – including twitter, then try to message them to confirm that I can indeed get in with Morgan, my trusty powerchair. That is how I found out about Drake – The Bookshop, in Stockton. The town itself was pretty deserted when we arrived on a Monday afternoon in January, but the shop itself had a steady stream of customers while we were there. As you can see from the photographs, there is a wide enough door and completely flat access. The layout inside is spacious, with room to get right around the displays, which is so important for independent book browsing! It also features a lovely children’s room which is also on the flat, with a lovely display of picture books. The selection of books is excellent, with new hardback fiction titles available. Altogether a welcoming shop with lots to recommend it.
For those of us who would list “visiting bookshops” as one of our hobbies, the last few years have been difficult. Even when restrictions have eased, and we may have felt confident to venture out, not all of us have been able to get into bookshops owing to mobility problems and challenging access. In this series I celebrate the shops that I can actually enter and get round on Morgan, my trusty powerchair.
Today I am featuring a shop within a shop – a garden centre at RHS Harlow Carr. We actually first discovered it in 2020, when meeting in the gardens for a legal, socially distanced picnic with our adult offspring who we had not seen for months. Venturing into the garden centre I expected the usual – piles of gardening books, maybe a few puzzle books, the usual thing. I entered via the Gardening section, only to discover that the area was in fact a small but well stocked bookshop, with new fiction and non fiction, an older collection of fiction with many interesting titles, biography, history and even specific crime fiction. After months of ordering books on the phone and online it was lovely to actually be able to handle and choose books in real life! As you can see from the photos, the books are well organised in a relatively spacious designated area so my more recent trip was very enjoyable. There are now several entrances to the building, all on the flat, – there is a slope at one side of the bookshop which is said not to be wheelchair friendly – I could manage it but it is mentioned in the accessibility statement.I am not sure who is in charge of book buying, but there is an excellent selection available whenever I visit. Thank you Harlow Carr!
One of my favourite book shops since I was eighteen is Heffers Bookshop in Cambridge. Now it is actually part of the Blackwells group, but I think it retains much of the flavour of an independent shop. It is accessible for Morgan, my trusty powerchair, thanks to a wide automatic doorway and a smaller one down a side entrance. Inside the shop itself there are several levels which can be accessed via small lifts which fortunately work well. The front section, at least at this time of year, is devoted to new books and a good selection of older books chosen by the booksellers. The fiction section is big, and includes books from small publishers such as Slightly Foxed. My favourite department is Crime. Richard has been there for over forty years, and the selection of books goes far beyond contemporary crime. There is an incredible choice of literary crime, “cosy” crime and Golden Age Detection. There is a full set of British Library Crime Classics, as well as more obscure reprints of novels of the mid twentieth century which Richard has discovered and promoted. Altogether it is possible to spend a lot of money there…All the staff are friendly and helpful, and I have spent many hours there whenever I have been able to get to Cambridge.
Bookshop Tour on Four Wheels – Oxfam Bookshop, Cambridge
One of the bookshops that I managed to get into during our recent visit to Cambridge with Morgan, my trusty powerchair, was the Oxfam bookshop. A wide doorway with no step, and an impressive ramp meant that I could enter easily and get around to see the books. Being early December, there were a few extra boxes of wrapping paper around but that all added to the festive atmosphere! We also managed to donate some books – they were glad it was only one big bag at the moment!
There are a surprising number of specialist Oxfam bookshops in Britain, and they always have a good selection ranging from paperback fiction to very specialist titles and some collectable editions which are priced accordingly. Most are accessible, even if they are small shops, though they tend to be crowded! On one famous occasion they saved Peter’s bacon on Christmas Eve when he spotted a Folio edition set of Dorothy L. Sayers best novels in a cabinet – an excellent present which I really enjoyed reading! A quick check online produced a list of the shops here https://www.localstore.co.uk/stores/82699/oxfam-books/ I cannot check its accuracy but it provides a start! The fact that most of the staff are volunteers means that they are usually cheerful and helpful. It is a great place for ex librarians (hello Diane!).
Of course if you are struggling to get out, you can always look online at https://onlineshop.oxfam.org.uk/ I built up quite a collection of books by a particular author from this site.
Bookshop Tour on Four Wheels – The Tree House Bookshop
A real find in Kenilworth was The Tree House Bookshop. It was accessible for Morgan, my trusty powerchair, even though apparently one of the doors was giving some problems. This cosy shop, though accessible inside, has an actual treehouse inside – though I did not take the opportunity to climb inside! It sells second – hand books on a not for profit basis, with donations of stock welcomed. This means that the prices are low even for special books, and are affordable for all. They are well ordered (fiction by authors alphabetically etc) and there was even a small selection of Virago green books. The non fiction section was also well arranged, and I could navigate between the shelves pretty well (for a busy second hand shop anyway!). Its tagline is “Bringing people together through the arts” and it is a music venue in normal times. Profits are ploughed back into the shop, and a local, national and international charity supported. It came over a friendly shop with a lot of stock and a real community feel.