Saturday, February 4, 2023

Big Bearded Bookseller's Guide to Indie Bookshops

Big Bearded Bookseller has performed an invaluable service to readers and bibliophiles by devising, using his own volunteer time and ingenuity, an interactive map of independent bookshops in the UK and Ireland. Wherever you are in the country, you can pinpoint the address of your nearest indie bookseller, along with other useful details.

He is even expanding the information internationally, and also has a blog in which he interviews some of the bookshop proprietors. 

For the UK, the guide lists 670 bookshops in England, 104 in Scotland, 54 in Wales and 10 in Northern Ireland. Even the Crown Dependencies get a listing (Isle of Man, 2, Guernsey 1). The bookshops listed mostly sell new books, not second-hand, so this list is complementary to The Book Guide, which lists only second-hand bookshops. However, there is some overlap between them, since some shops sell both. The dedicated browser on a bookshop expedition will want to consult both guides.

Indie bookshops deserve our support and have attractions even for the dedicated delver in musty tomes. Sometimes, unexpectedly, there is a shelf or two or even a case of second-hand books. They may also have specialisms where hitherto unknown and unexpectedly arcane books can be found. They can also be a good source of information on nearby sources of second-hand books. But additionally they are the ideal place to find obscure, locally-published books and chapbooks which you will not find in the major chains. Several privately-produced books of ghost stories, for example, have first been offered in just such local bookshops. 

Big Bearded Bookseller provides this service for free, but if you find it useful he's always pleased to receive a coffee

(Mark Valentine)

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