Books Are My Bag is a UK-wide campaign to celebrate bookshops. The three day campaign began on the 7th October and runs until Saturday October 11th, culminating in Big Bookshop Parties with all sorts of author events lined up.
As part of the campaign the book reviewers’ website Bookbridgr is asking book bloggers to write a short post about their favourite bookshop. What a great idea! I’m delighted to take part in this excellent campaign, and here’s a photo of the premises of my favourite bookshop, which is based in an old woollen mill in my village of Saltaire.
Could you think of a more perfect location? I’ve already written a post about Saltaire, Salt’s Mill, and the history of the woollen industry in this region, with lots more photos, so please feel free to check it out. As you can see from the photos shown below, the bookshop in the converted Salt’s Mill is in a beautifully light and airy space. I’ve spent many an hour here browsing, and some of the many things I love about the bookshop are the collections of stationery which I regularly salivate over; the fabulous children’s section; the collection of craft books; the collection of local interest books; the section of favourites especially chosen by the owners, which is regularly updated.
I have discovered many an author browsing in this bookshop that I would never have found by browsing online. The beauty of bookshops! The main author that springs to mind is Angela Thirkell. I discovered her here when Wild Strawberries was part of the owners’ favourites selection, and I fell totally in love with her.
If I have one gripe – and it’s quite a large gripe, which sadly applies to a lot of other bookshops, too – it’s that the bookshop in Salt’s Mill has no romance section. Shortly after the Romantic Novelists’ Association announced their shortlist for the 2014 Romantic Novel of the Year, I took a few leaflets to the bookshop, showing details of the nominees and their novels. I asked the manager if a handful of leaflets could be left on the counter for readers to take away, and was told rather dismissively that ‘they didn’t sell that type of book here.’
To say I was nonplussed is an understatement. I opened the leaflet and pointed to the first few books I saw – all printed by respected publishers, by authors who are household names in some cases. What is the problem? I really don’t understand this. Romance authors such as Julie Cohen and Rowan Coleman give Masterclasses on writing for the Guardian newspaper. Why are their novels not good enough for my local bookshop? In the end, by dint of this sort of persuasion I was grudgingly allowed to leave my leaflets.
I repeat, I really don’t understand this attitude, and to be honest, this snobbishness does mar my enjoyment of many bookshops where romance novels are looked down on. The romance genre is the best-selling genre in the world. Why do so few booksellers not make a point of having a romance section? Plus, readers who read romance are also avid readers of many other genres, in my experience. If romance readers were attracted to Salt’s Mill by a well-stocked romance section, they’d soon be spending their money on lots of other books, too. If booksellers continue to have this blinkered attitude, then it’s hardly surprising that they are starting to lose money.
Still, I’m loathe to end this post on a rant. The bookshop at Salt’s Mill is still one of my favourites ever, for its location, its beautifully laid out interior, and for the many authors I’ve discovered there. If they included romance novels it would quite simply be the perfect bookshop.
Do you have a local bookshop? Do you buy your books online, or in your local shop? And does your bookshop stock romance novels? If you have any comments at all on this subject, I’d love to hear from you!