To celebrate Independent Bookshop Week (18 – 25th June), an annual celebration of our local, independent bookshops and booksellers, we asked the authors of some of our recent and forthcoming trade titles to share their favourite bookshop and why.
You will hopefully see their books in your local, independent bookshop very soon, and we encourage you to pre-order and shop our titles at your local indie, whether it’s online or in-person, if you can.
Gay’s The Word, London
‘When I was 18, on my first solo trip to London, I got off the train at Euston and walked ten minutes south to Marchmont Street, where I took a further ten to summon the nerve to walk into Gay’s the Word – a bookshop I’d spotted in my brother’s copy of Time Out and which has been my queer London lodestone since. The well-stocked shelves and window display are a draw of course. They brilliantly capture the multiple dimensions of my community, including its erotics and politics and its rainbow of identities and identifications. But more than that, it is Jimmy and Uli, the rest of the staff, and the punters who make this place and make it feel like home in often harsh times. That it’s survived is testament to their work and dedication. I’ve shopped here and launched my own books here. It’s a space – 10 minutes from my office, 20 minutes from home – where I feel I can breathe out.’
Matt Cook, co-author of Queer beyond London
Calton Books, Glasgow
‘Calton Books is a very wee bookshop but what it lacks in quantity, it more than makes up for in quality, whether through the associated things it sells – like flags and badges – or through its great website for ordering books.’
Gregor Gall, author of The punk rock politics of Joe Strummer
News from Nowhere, Liverpool / October Books, Southampton
‘The revival of independent book stores has been good news for British High Streets when many have been in terminal decline. Though still serving a largely middle -classed and older population, book reading and buying has defied predictions in recent years, with lockdown providing the opportunity for the British public to ‘rediscover’ the joys of buying physical books. But some of our best bookshops are more than just retailers: they provide a community hub, and offer a form of ‘socially-connective’ retailing that brings people together, whether in reading groups, coffee mornings, or games evenings. Some of my favourite book shops – e.g. News from Nowhere in Liverpool and October Books in Southampton – have also been a hub for community activism, with the latter nominated for a RIBA architecture award in 2020 when it took over a disused bank, praised for its collaborative work with a local homeless charity. It’s a great asset in a city that has a number of social problems, its co-operative ownership a model for other bookshops to follow.’
Phil Hubbard, author of Borderland
Fox Books, Leicester
At 22, I walked off the train station in Leicester in the East Midlands, and was greeted by the statue of Thomas Cook — a man I didn’t know yet would have resonance with my studies. I was moving from two big cities — Paris and London — to a new smaller city I was unfamiliar with, to pursue a big dream: museum studies.
There is something quite wonderful about Leicester: the energy of a city with so many students, the diversity and exchange of cultures, the many languages spoken, it was a whirlwind of energy. My favourite part of Leicester was always its independent shop scene: the most welcoming coffee shops, the independent restaurants, the small stores and their owners that have become family over the years.
But one thing was missing: an independent bookstore.
And thus when I found out that during my Paris writing retreat Leicester had opened the delightful Fox Books independent bookstore in my favourite little square, I was overjoyed. It brings strength to a city that is already brimming with cultural offerings, and I cannot wait to visit this summer— support local business and take home one too many books!
Angela Stienne, author of Mummified