Every day should be bookshop day. But that’s not how it is, so after the surge of new books on Super Thursday two days ago, our bookshops are celebrating being bookshops today.
I’ve known a lot of bookshops in my life, but the one that stepped forward when I thought how the best thing would be if books came a bit more evenly distributed, was Waterstones in Altrincham. It used to be semi-local to me, although not terribly close.
This is going back almost twenty years, but when we were Christmas shopping in Wilmslow en famille – which is a most uncharacteristic thing for the Witch family to be doing – the Resident IT Consultant found a copy of Joan Aiken’s The Wolves of Willoughby Chase. I didn’t know it, but he remembered it from a long time before.
So we bought it. I think as a present for all of us. He read it again, and I read it, and Son read it. The following year I had cause to go to Altrincham, where I visited the High Street bookshop. Because you have to. Not looking for anything special, I found Black Hearts in Battersea. I bought it. It felt like it was meant. Besides, it also turned out to be what I consider the best in the whole Willoughby Chase series.
As I said, I had cause to go to Altrincham, and on my subsequent regular visits, I always popped into Waterstones, where they always had the next Joan Aiken book. It felt weird, because the shops closer to us didn’t seem to have any, and it was always the one I needed next that I found. I don’t believe I was ever disappointed.
And it’s not as if I had to wait for a new book to be published. It’s more that they didn’t seem to have all of the books at the same time, which they could have had.
The Willoughby Chase books are special to me primarily because they are very, very good books. But also for the way I was able to buy them, one after the other.
I was about to say I couldn’t recall what the [first] shop in Wilmslow was, but Ottakar’s just popped into my mind.
Yesterday The i published an article about authors’ favourite bookshops. Toppings does well, and Hatchards. Bath in general seems to be good for books. And of course there is a difference between where authors might go to shop, and where they enjoy doing events.
As this old blog post of mine shows, there are other reasons for shopping – or not – in certain bookshops. Pushchairs and no [working] lifts would be one of them.