Happy Independent Bookshop Week, 18th-25th June

Dr Nicola Wilson writes:

We spent some time in EN2BB (Business of Books) visiting and thinking about the role of bookshops and the power of marketing and display in selling and distributing literature. This week I found myself reviewing two very different texts on bookshops for two very different publications: (i) a scholarly edited collection by Huw Osborne, The Rise of the Modernist Bookshop. Books and the Commerce of Culture in the Twentieth Century (Ashgate, 2015) for The Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, and (ii) bestseller Veronica Henry’s fourteenth novel, How to find love in a bookshop (Orion, 2016) for the Press Association which gets short book reviews (150 words) out into the national and regional press.


Henry’s novel is light ‘chick lit’ fare but also a love letter to the powers of reading and to bookshops as places of community and self-fulfilment. Huw Osborne’s edited collection is deeply rooted in scholarly and archival research, with great emphasis placed upon the prominent role of women as booksellers and printer/publishers in the early twentieth century, along with the role of the bookshop – drawing on sociological work by Laura Miller, Reluctant Capitalists: Bookselling and the Culture of Consumption (2006) and the spatial theories of Henri Lefebvre – as hybrid “interstitial space” (7), “a social and lived space” (142) where communities of writers, readers and artists can meet. Poles apart as texts in so many ways, but both circulating around the idea of the bookshop as central to social and literary culture and to enabling a love of books. Independent Bookshop Week is itself of course a commercial and marketing tool, set up by the Booksellers Association, but I for one don’t mind the complex “literary-commercial paradox” (8), as Osborne describes bookselling, of this one. Happy Reading!

About Cindy

Associate Professor in the Department of English Literature at the University of Reading. Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.
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