Today I am here with a very exciting post from Jen Campbell about her research for The Bookshop Book! Hope you enjoy it all and don’t forget to find out more about the book at the bottom of the post.
I’ve always loved books and bookshops. Bookshops, as one young customer once said to me, are houses for stories. There’s something magical about them.
But as well as being magical, they are also wonderfully weird. In 2012 my book ‘Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops’ was published – an affectionate look at the bizarre side of bookselling, from customers asking if books conduct electricity, to someone looking for Bibles with photographs of Jesus in them.
However, the bookseller side is also weird. There are bizarre bookshops all over the world – bookshops on boats and on buses and in the middle of a rainforest. After two volumes of ‘Weird Things…’, I decided it was time to write about the flip side: weird bookshops, and the people who run them.
The Bookshop Book looks at over 300 bookshops across six continents. The smallest bookshop in the world and the most remote; amazing travelling bookshops like The Book Barge in the UK – a bookshop on a narrowboat, and the Biblioburro in Colombia (books on the back of a donkey!). Not to mention a bookshop in Tokyo in the shape of a cat! It looks at bookshop pets: Wild Rumpus in Minneapolis is the king of this; they not only have books but also chickens, a tarantula, cats, cockatiels and ferrets running around the place. I also wrote about Book Towns: remote communities who have created a dozen bookshops along one street to become a tourist destination for book lovers. There’s one in Australia in an old gold-mining town, and their first day of business was so successful that they ran out of electricity!
I got to travel to bookshops around the UK and Europe – the ones further away I skyped with, so I’d get up early in the morning and chat to booksellers in Australia, NZ and Asia (such as Ayuko who runs a sushi-making class in a bookshop!); then I’d go to the bookshop I work at – an antiquarian bookshop in north London – do a day’s shift and come home to Skype with booksellers in America and Canada. It meant I was constantly in more than one time zone in my head, but it was a lot of fun! I also interviewed authors about their favourite places and what kind of bookshop they would open if they had the chance: Ian Rankin would open a music bookshops and cafe; Tracy Chevalier would open a bookshop in a train station with chocolates hidden on the shelves; Audrey Niffenegger is actually planning on opening an art bookshop in Chicago, and Cornelia Funke said she’d open a bookshop in the middle of a forest – making it a real adventure to visit.
I loved researching and writing The Bookshop Book. Bookshops are indeed magical places, full of tales to tell. Houses for stories. So many, many stories.
And stories, afterall, want to be heard!
The Bookshop Book is OUT NOW
Every bookshop has a story.
We’re not talking about rooms that are just full of books. We’re talking about bookshops in barns, disused factories, converted churches and underground car parks. Bookshops on boats, on buses, and in old run-down train stations. Fold-out bookshops, undercover bookshops, this-is-the-best-place-I’ve-ever-been-to-bookshops.
Meet Sarah and her Book Barge sailing across the sea to France; meet Sebastien, in Mongolia, who sells books to herders of the Altai mountains; meet the bookshop in Canada that’s invented the world’s first antiquarian book vending machine.
And that’s just the beginning.
From the oldest bookshop in the world, to the smallest you could imagine, The Bookshop Book examines the history of books, talks to authors about their favourite places, and looks at over three hundred weirdly wonderful bookshops across six continents (sadly, we’ve yet to build a bookshop down in the South Pole).
The Bookshop Book is a love letter to bookshops all around the world.