Make World Book Day, the day you support your local bookshop.
It’s all very well browsing online and downloading but living in a world of ‘Recommended For You’ shortens your horizons. Why let Amazon decide what you’re going to read? Kindle is one way to read – not a bad way, but not the only way.
Take yourself off to a proper bookshop instead.
Main Street Trading Company, St Boswells
One of the great things about independent bookshops is that the selection of titles reflects the personal preferences of the bookseller, not some bland central purchasing policy. Another of the great things about a good bookshop is bookish staff – people who live between the pages of books and exist to help you find just what you didn’t even know you were looking for.
Main Street Trading Co in St Boswells is home to such people and behind the books are Rosamund and Bill del Hey – supported by a talented team.
Rosamund has background in children’s publishing at Bloomsbury – if you don’t know how to win a reticent child over into the world of books come here and depart with your aching arms filled with titles guaranteed to set childish minds alight.
Cast an eye over the cookery section, Bill del Hey’s domain, and you’ll likely conclude that the selection is driven not by fashion but a critical appreciation of good cookery writing. Books you will cook from forever.
Good to know: Mouthwatering cake and gifts, plus Main Street Trading Co has a fantastic events programme: coming up soon – Maggie O’Farrell in conversation with literary agent, Jenny Brown, and discussing her new book Instructions for a Heatwave, 14 March, 7.30pm and Kate Atkinson lifting the curtain on her new novel, Life After Life on 17 March, 5.30pm.
The Edinburgh Bookshop, Edinburgh
Formerly the Children’s Bookshop, now merged with The Edinburgh Bookshop and under new ownership, this independent continues to excel in children’s titles, new fiction, history and biography.
If it seems that children’s fiction lives large in the independent book sector then that’s probably because children especially appreciate the tactile and sensory pleasures of book buying. For toddlers nothing beats the joy of sitting on the floor amidst towers of books, sucking on the corner of a board book – as far as I know this experience can not yet be replicated online.
Parents too, have a keen eye for appealing illustration that is better served in real time and space.
There is, it’s true, much more to the Edinburgh Bookshop than quirky kids titles. Fiction book buffs are guided to new promising authors and the selection isn’t without an edge.
Good to know: The Edinburgh Bookshop has made the regional shortlist for the Bookseller Independent retailer awards. The Edinburgh Bookshop hosts writer’s workshops. Most recently Jane Cooper lead a workshop titled, 365 Ways To Get You Writing.
The Watermill and Homer, Aberfeldy
The Watermill in Aberfeldy is a largish nook of bookish wonder, inside are smaller nooks of books, each flooded with daylight and crammed with books you won’t be able to leave without.
The fiction section is good but really, for me, The Watermill is about the large format books and the wonderful kids books you don’t see elsewhere. High Street bookshops are bidden to promote the latest Jamie or Nigella books – these are the Goliaths that keep the industry afloat – and there often seems little else of interest. Here the cookery section is more discerning over a longer period and whilst you’ll find the usual cast, you’ll find a lot more besides. The same is true of the other specialist interest areas; gardening, history, young adult fiction and travel writing.
As you would expect from a bookshop in the hub of Highland walking country, there is a truly impressive collection of titles devoted to walking, climbing, cycling and if you want to find a flattering book for the coffee table that makes Scotland look like the most beautiful land on Earth, then this is the place to come.
Good to know: More mouthwatering cake and adjoining the Watermill is Homer, a treasure trove of covetable bobs and bits for the stylish home.