It was my beloved local independent bookshop Mostly Books fifth birthday yesterday. Congratulations to Mark, Nikki and all the team at the shop.
They have worked so hard during those five years to make Mostly Books the literary hub of our town (Abingon, near Oxford) – it feels as if the shop has always been there – I mean that in a completely good way, of course! It was wonderful to go into the shop shortly after 09:30 yesterday morning and find it already buzzing with local booklovers who’d all come to wish them happy birthday, and toast the shop with champers for breakfast.
In these hard times, when the big chains of booksellers like Waterstones and Borders have been in such problems facing up to the phenomena of a) Amazon and now b) e-books, it is brilliant to see that the best independent bookshops can thrive in this cutthroat business. It’s not easy!
MB succeeds because the owners and staff have really got to know their customers. Their expertise is second to none, and their passion for bookselling shines through.
The stock is well chosen – it has to be; the number of times I’ve gone in and browsing through the new books table, spotted a new title I wasn’t aware of that seemed to have been picked specially for me to buy! (I did that yesterday with the first English translation of Mikhail Bulgakov’s short novel The Fatal Eggs which sounds like a Russian SF version of HP Lovecraft with added satire – and as a dystopian story will fit our reading group theme for August.)
They also run a great programme of events, and have built up relationships with publishers to attract some great names in the literary world to Abingdon – see here, here, and here for a flavour, (or check out ‘author events’ in my Authors etc list on your right). They also champion local and first time authors, and have run author evenings involving flower arranging and wine tasting too. Then there are the shop’s book groups – they have several, for which there’s a waiting list, and also all the children’s storytimes, and more. Phew – hard work!
All this adds up to an immersive book browsing and buying experience which is worth paying for in my opinion. I’ve told you about my favourite bookshop – do tell me about yours …