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Books, books, glorious books … in praise of Indie Book Stores


There we were, the 6’5″ nephew and myself, leaving Waterstone’s, Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow, UK, last year without buying a book. What a triumph of willpower over two lots of biblio-addiction! And then—a title caught my eye: Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops.

“Hang on a minute,” I said to the nephew, “just a quick look. I won’t buy it, honest.”

However, after a fast flick revealed the following gems offered by its author, Jen Campbell: ‘Can books conduct electricity?’ ‘Did Beatrix Potter ever write a book about dinosaurs?’ ‘Excuse me… is this book edible?’ I gave in. Yes, Reader, you have guessed correctly. I bought it—and went on to have the best laugh I had had for ages, perusing (as one five-star reviewer memorably put it) ‘… some absolute howlers from the misinformed beast that is the general public…’

This affecting little tale is offered to demonstrate two things. One, the fundamentally irresistible nature of books to book addicts, in this case the nephew and myself. (It is always a great comfort to share book addiction with a fellow spirit.) And two, the importance of having a good bookshop in your area into which you can stroll any time you feel like distracting yourself from Life’s Onerous Challenges (fill in according to your particular current oppression). If there is also good coffee on offer, so much the better.

The above will explain why I could barely contain my excitement over this summer on finding out that an independent bookshop, i.e., a new branch of Waterstones, was returning to Byres Road, Glasgow, about 15 years after our much loved and lamented local John Smith’s bookshop had fallen victim to the march of regress.

Anne Whitaker Guest Pic
No, not Halloween.

The shop has received a warm welcome from shoppers in Glasgow’s West End. “Almost every single person who has come in has complimented the staff, the store and the fact that we’re here,” reported bookshop manager Xavier Jones-Barlow shortly after the shop opened Aug. 29. The following day, I was fortunate to capture a moment of fun and frolic whilst passing by.

No, I was assured, it wasn’t Halloween in a time warp. It was a book launch. Waterstones has started as it means to go on!

What is the indie book situation where you live? I’d be most interested to know. I found a cheering article from earlier this year on The Daily Beast, titled Indie Bookstores Are Finally Not Dying, which carried the following optimistic comment: “In reality more bookstores have opened than closed in the last couple of years in the U.S. They have always been and will always be anchors in many communities.”

So—let’s all go out there and support our local bookstores, shall we? And the next time I visit your friendly and brilliantly well-stocked Waterstones store, Xavier, I promise the nephew and I will buy at least one book each.

This guest post was submitted by Stuff Writers Like contributor Anne Whitaker. You can read the original from Anne’s blog, Writing from the Twelfth House, here.

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Anne Whitaker

author and astrologer at Writing from the Twelfth House
Anne Whitaker lives and works in Glasgow, Scotland. She has a long background in adult education, generic and psychiatric social work, and private practice as a counselor, counseling supervisor, and mentor. Anne also has a complementary, more unorthodox career as an astrologer and astrology teacher. She has been a writer in an astoundingly diverse range of contexts, formal and informal, all her life. Anne blogs at www.anne-whitaker.com and www.astrologyquestionsandanswers.com where her two free research studies, "Jupiter Meets Uranus" and "The Moon's Nodes in Action," can be downloaded.
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  • A. R. Braun

    I love Bookworm Books, the independent bookstore in Pekin, IL. Unlike Barnes & Nobles in Peoria, this one has an excellent horror section, two huge shelves of it! I love going in there and rarely make it out empty-handed.

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