On Holiday in a Bookshop – Part 2

In shock news, I must report that Scarthin Books isn’t the only bookshop in the Peak District.
Honestly, it’s true. There’s another one.

This is Bookstore Brierlow Bar, 3 miles from Buxton. It claims that it is the largest bargain bookshop in the country, along with its sister store, Oakmere. I’m not entirely sure what criteria it bases this on; the website claims it has “over 20,000 different titles in stock at any given time”, but I’ve heard plenty of bookshops claim they have more. But it’s pretty darn big, and I defy you not to find something you want to buy. (2017 edit – this is now High Peak Bookstore and Cafe).

The staff – as claimed! – were very knowledgeable and helpful, but Arty Daughter and I were rather disappointed at the answer we received when we expressed surprise over the lack of graphic novels (in fact there were barely any ‘real’ graphic novels there, just a few glossy comic collections). We were told that they had given up stocking them because they “never seemed to stock the ones people were asking for.” Which kind of made me wonder why they didn’t note down which ones people were asking for, and stock them…

But it is a great bookshop, with genuinely bargain prices and a fantastic range of non-fiction and children’s books. Not to mention bird feeding supplies! And there’s also a place to sit down for a cuppa if the choice gets too overwhelming.

So if you should be wandering along the A515 towards Ashbourne, pop in!



Huntingdon – The Booklovers’ Capital of the UK!

Sorry to break into the bookshop blogs, but sometimes breaking news just has to take precedence!
It’s not often I’m shocked by anything in the Hunts Post. This isn’t a derogatory comment – as I discussed in a blog post many moons ago, it’s rather nice to now live in an area where, some weeks, there just aren’t any knife fights or drug raids to report. But it’s taken some getting used to; I still chuckle at front page stories like ‘new owl chicks at zoo given names’ and page 2 shouting ‘local teen pushed off bicycle!’. My best friend also ’emigrated’ to a rural location at the same time, and has equally dramatic stuff in her local paper – cue much headline swapping hilarity in our letters and phone calls!

But yesterday, when the Hunts Post crashed on to my doormat, I picked it straight up (my day off!) and…
I had to sit down with a frothy coffee to take it in.
Could Huntingdon – my nearest town – really be ‘the book-buying capital of the UK?’ Even though its only book outlets are standard charity shops, a small WHSmith (which now incorporates the post office) and – as of June – an Oxfam bookshop?? I turned in fevered haste (if you’ll forgive the cliche) to page 4…
Well apparently, yes. Or perhaps…not.

The Hunts Post was merely joining the many other newspapers and booktrade websites who had already made much of the fact that, according to Amazon, Huntingdon residents buy more books than any other town.
From them, anyway.

Amazon recently released a top 20 book buyers list of towns and cities (20,000+ residents only). It takes account of traditional publications and Kindle format.

1. Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire
2. Cambridge, Cambridgeshire
3. Sevenoaks, Kent
4. Rochester, Kent
5. Salisbury, Wiltshire
6. Chichester, West Sussex
7. Canterbury, Kent
8. Truro, Cornwall
9. Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk
10. Doncaster, South Yorkshire
11. Winchester, Hampshire
12. Godalming, Surrey
13. Spalding, Lincolnshire
14. Warwick, Warwickshire
15. Newton Abbot, Devon
16. Durham, County Durham
17. Whitney, Oxfordshire
18. Oxford, Oxfordshire
19. Tonbridge, Kent
20. York, North Yorkshire

The Hunts Post had dug further down in the data and discovered that Huntingdon is at no.1 in the food & drink category and children’s books, and no.2 in non-fiction and science fiction.
What does that say about my local folk? We predominantly have large well-fed families who dress like Klingons at the weekend?

Huntingdon High Street

Perhaps it just mean that, in an area that’s traditionally tech-savvy and at the forefront of scientific advances, the people I now live amongst do more of their shopping online. Living as they do in the liberal sprinkling of often tiny hamlets and villages that fill the triangle formed by Bedford, Peterborough and Cambridge, perhaps it’s an easier option than having to go to one of those ‘big 3’ to find a decently-sized bookshop (I’m sorry, St.Neots, but your minuscule Waterstones-within-Barratts t’aint a lot of good to man or beast).

I certainly don’t think it means that people in Huntingdon buy more books than people in all the other towns and cities in the UK. Particularly when you consider that Huntingdon only just scraped over the 20,000 residents mark this year. Quite hilariously, the Hunts Post nabbed 8 people in the High Street and asked them about their bookish habits. Only 2 said they bought books from Amazon. 3 said they got their books from the library, 1 said charity shops, 1 said Waterstone’s or Oxfam, and the other just commented that they had bought their last book on a ferry from Denmark!

Huntingdon Library

The Guardian pointed out:
Amazon “has no evidence its purchasers actually read the books they buy, however, and maybe, just maybe, inhabitants of those towns which fail to appear on the list have been avoiding Amazon to buy their books elsewhere – let’s hope from their local independents, which have been having a rough time of it lately.” Indeed! Which is a good reason to big up some more bookshops tomorrow!

It would be interesting to see if other online retailers have similar figures. I might ask Techie Husband, who works for The Other Big One, if his company collate area data too. Watch this space…

A Book That Changed My Life

p> Countryside road

A Book That Changed Your Life

Such was the challenge laid down by Plinky recently… so, here goes.

Paul McKenna’s ‘Change Your Life In 7 Days’.
I borrowed it from a friend just before she moved miles away 4 years ago, and have repeatedly forgotten to give it back (which isn’t at all like me – honest – but these days I’m normally on my summer holidays when I drop in & visit her, and I’ve forgotten to pack the book in all the excitement!)

Anyway. The book. It did change my life in 7 days – and that’s without using the cd. Perhaps I should go and do that now…

It changed my life because it freed me of the guilt I felt for wanting a happy and successful life. At the risk of sounding all deep and meaningful here – heaven forbid! – I had been brought up with the ‘if it’s not broken, don’t fix it – and be glad you’ve got it, because that’s all you can expect and you certainly don’t need or deseve any more’ rule.

That rule stinks.

In reality, a far better rule is ‘if it’s not broken, but it doesn’t work properly – or as well as something else would – then for God’s sake sort it out before you’re too old to truly appreciate the result.’

In the words of Captain Sensible:

You’ve got to have a dream

If you don’t have a dream

How you gonna make a dream come true?

Within a short time of reading that book I had signed up to restart my degree with a creative writing course, and had put my house on the market. A year later I had moved 100 miles away.

That book really DID change my life, you see…

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