Two Nosy Crow directors, Kate and Adrian, found themselves in Bath this week – not a city they know well – with their children. And being Nosy Crows, they investigated the bookshops en famille. Book-browsing and book-buying in cities other than your own is always an interesting experience for anyone in the industry. While central Bath is a special, prosperous kind of place with lots of tourist money, so no more representative than the Metropolis, Kate’s UK-wide bookselling experience at Scholastic was a great corrective to the London-centric views and experience that she finds dominate publishing, so she particularly values non-London bookshop experiences.
First they went to Waterstones (great location on Milsom Street), which showed evidence of the New Localisation, with lots of Jane Austen-related stuff in the windows. There was also an impressive backlist “books you should have read” table. And it was cheeringly busy, too.
They bought My Family And Other Animals by Gerald Durrell and Second Form at Mallory Towers by Enid Blyton.
The older child said, “Waterstones had the largest range and was very intriguing to explore… but there was hardly any Agatha Christie.”
The younger child said, “S’all right.”
Then they went to Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights (pictured). Kate had met some Mr B’s people at the IPG/Independent Bookseller’s Forum event in May, and they were as nice on home turf as they were in London. It’s a really lovely shop, tempting you to buy stuff you really didn’t know you wanted. They bought Moonfleet by J Meade Falkner (a book they’d forgotten altogether – you see what we mean?), Third Year at Mallory Towers by Enid Blyton and Howards End is on the Landing by Susan Hill (a book they didn’t know existed – again, you see what we mean?). There were lots of expensive hardback Agatha Christies, but they didn’t buy them.
Adrian said, “Really interesting staff recommendations, with lots of interesting stuff face-out.”
Then they went to W H Smith – and that Bath W H Smith is a good ‘un, with a strong book range. They bought back-to-school stationery (so much cheaper than Paperchase), and Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie.
The older child’s favourite shop in Bath is Mr B’s Emporium.
The younger child’s favourite shop in Bath is Paperchase.
Adrian’s favourite shop in Bath is “the kitchen shop round the corner from Mr B’s Emporium“
Bath is lucky. Within a really short distance there are three very different book buying experiences – chain bookshop, independent bookshop, chain bookseller/newsagent/stationer – each of which is a really good example of its kind.