It’s Independent Bookshops Week – and I’ve probably got even more reason to be excited than most! But first I want to talk about why you should make an effort to buy local. (Prepare yourselves – it’s a bit of a rant!)

BookShrop interior
BookShrop in Whitchurch

Local bookshops are wonderful places. No matter how hard Amazon try, with their ‘customers also bought’ lists and recommended titles, nothing can compete with being able to walk into a bookshop and ask for help. On Friday evening just before 5pm I dashed into BookShrop and panted: “What book would my dad like for Father’s Day?” Dinah, who owns BookShrop, doesn’t know the first thing about my dad, but somehow she managed to produce the perfect book for him in less than three minutes and after asking only two questions. And, true enough, when I gave my dad his present he loved it! I’d also phoned up in the week to order a book for my daughter to give to Jez as her Father’s Day gift, and Dinah stocks a lovely selection of cards and other gifts alongside the books – as do many independent bookshops.

Buy Local

This week is an opportunity to think about the people who own and run businesses on our high streets, and to try and imagine our towns and cities without these independent shops. Do you really want everything to be moved online or to big out of town retailers? Really? Think about it for a minute. It’s not just about convenience. It’s not only about saving a few pence, or finding a parking space. Those kinds of concerns are momentary and, actually, fairly selfish. This is about community. About the people who are at the heart of a community, about hubs and places where people can connect and speak to each other face-to-face. It’s about thinking for a moment about the kinds of people who set up and run a local business – not just bookshops, but other kinds of businesses too. They have families to support, bills to pay, and often run on margins that would make you wince. They chose to set up a local business because they love their local community (that means YOU) and because they have a dream. It’s up to all of us to take care of our high streets, because without a vibrant high street filled with real, independent retailers and businesses, a town loses its heart.

Need more convincing to shop local? Okay, here goes:

Convenience: your local independent bookshop can take orders over the phone or online too, and will often post a book directly out to you. So there!

Cost: you think local shops are more expensive, but are they really? Have you checked recently? Often our local stores are a lot more competitive than we realise. And remember, it’s often only certain loss-leader items that superstores offer more cheaply, tempting you in so you then spend more on your overall shop.

House prices: here’s an interesting reason to support local businesses – the value of your home. Run-down high streets with tumbleweed blowing past and nothing but charity shops interspersed with ‘To Let’ signs does not make for a desirable place to live!

So, head over to your local independent bookshop this week and show your support. If you don’t know where your local bookshop is, there is a handy tool on the Independent Bookshops Week website to help you find it. And if your response to this post is “I don’t read much anyway so why do I care?” … You don’t even want to get me started on that 🙂

Bookshrop advert board

So, now to my own personal reasons for being a little bit in love with my local bookshop. On Saturday, BookShrop in Whitchurch will be launching the paperback of my second Flora Lively book: A Date With Death. This will be my 4th book signing event here, and I’m fully expecting it to be the biggest and best so far. All the ingredients are there for a great turn out: A local indie author launching a book with a local setting during local indie bookshop week. And if you want a copy of A Date With Death but can’t make it to the launch, please order it from your own local bookshop. The ISBN is 9780957309449 and your bookshop can order it from their usual suppliers.

Watch out later this week for my guide for authors who want to get their books stocked by their local bookshop. Insider information and a step-by-step guide – not to be missed!