I recently just got back from a little walk around my university town in Exeter, during which I visited what is now one of my favourite independent book stores. Though I can’t deny that I buy a lot of my books on Amazon and in Waterstones, there’s something about an independent book shop that will always remain close to my heart. I love all the dusty shelves. Wobbly towers of books packed up high to the ceiling. The sometimes-wacky book selection on offer.
This one particular book store I visited in Exeter is called Book Cycle. The shop is spread over 2 floors, full to the brim with books that local people have donated. This way, you’re always sure to find a book you never thought you would, or one you’ve never even heard of! What I loved about this shop is that it has a “you decide the price” policy, depending on how much you think the book is worth (so often, you can get books for a lot cheaper than other stores!)
I love that independent book stores often support charities, local artists and the creative community. I feel like in the realm of Amazon/Waterstones/WHSmith’s etc. local creativity has a knack of being undermined and forgotten for the commercial side of the book industry. For example, this second-hand book store in Exeter supports many charities. For World Book Day, they support the “Send a Book Pallet” project where books are sent to overseas schools to encourage child literacy. Since 2010, they have sent over 250,000 books and a range of teaching materials to the Ashanti region in Ghana, where literacy rates can be as low as 57.9% for children.
If you know anything about me, then you’ll know that I absolutely love antique and vintage looking books. I love knowing that I have a piece of history in my hand. A book that, before, belonged to someone else who enjoyed it and loved it just as much as I do. I currently have a copy of Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens from the 1940’s. Inside the front cover there’s a message to a woman from her friend. It just feels like such a personal touch and one that I will forever cherish in my collection. I often find that independent and second-hand book shops are THE best place to find items such as these. When the books have been donated by local people, there will undoubtedly be a lot of history in the books. Stories beyond the actual stories themselves.
Though I could think of many more reasons why I love independent and second-hand book stores, these are just a few examples!
Do you shop at independent book shops? Or are you very much an Amazon/Waterstones kind of shopper?