Posted by: billpurdue | June 25, 2012

Independent bookshops – how are they doing?

E-books are continuing to increase in sales and numbers and it seems that the independent booksellers are the last ones to be able to offer e-books to their customers. Now the Bookseller magazine reports that independent booksellers are to have access to the Kobo e-reader devices. Printed book sales are at a nine year low apparently, but personally I prefer to be able to hold a book in my hand. … and you can’t (yet) get an e-book signed by the author (or can you?).

The number of independent bookshops in Britain is also on the decline. The Bookseller reports that independent bookshops which are members of the Booksellers Association number just under 1100 after a fall of 65 in 2011. New independent bookshops are still springing into being, but at a slower rate than in previous years. Nottinghamshire doesn’t have many independent general bookshops – those I know of are Bookworm in Retford, The Bookcase at Lowdham (website currently being refurbished) and Stray’s of Newark (although the website seems to have more about food, coffee and music than books ). There may be more further south in the county that I haven’t come across. Let’s hope that these few bookshops survive for a good while yet.

Specialist bookshops on the other hand seem in general to be fairing better. They cater for the enthusiasts of course and maybe that’s their strength. I visited last week a railway bookshop in Matlock: Bill Hudson’s Transport Bookshop. It’s tucked away behind the platform at Matlock Railway Station and could be mistaken for something else as the sign above the door reads “Peak Rail Shop”. To reach the shop, just enter the Peak Rail shop and turn left and you will be surrounded by thousands of books on railways, far more new ones than second hand, with a few books on canals, buses, trams and a very few on air travel. There’ll be more about the shop in my next Chad column due in the June 27th issue of the Chad.

When I wrote about the book Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford last time, I didn’t mention that there was an endorsement of the book on the front cover from Sara Gruen, author of Water for Elephants [Two Roads £7.99 9781444716009]. A friend of mine who is a member of a book group said how much he had enjoyed Gruen’s book, so I looked in the Notts Libraries catalogue and found only the DVD of the film, not the book itself.

Anyway the story is set in America at the time of the great depression when Jacob, a veterinary student, joins a second rate travelling circus and is put in charge of the menagerie of animals. He meets the beautiful wife of the animal trainer and also makes friends with an elephant named Rosie and finds a way to train her where others have failed. The film stars Reese Witherspoon and Robert Pattinson. In other words, it’s a love story with a difference and it seems well worth a read.

Last week Google commemorated the 100th birthday of Alan Turing by putting a binary numbering  puzzle on its home page. Alan Turing “played a significant role in the creation of the modern computer” according to Wikipedia. He was also involved in the cracking of the Enigma code at Bletchley Park during the last war. A new edition of Alan Turing: the enigma[Vintage £10.99 978-0099116417] came out at the end of last month


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