I decided this week that I wanted to photograph the statue of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in Crowhurst High Street for a future blog so I googled bookshops nearby. Sadly, as I found out Crowhurst is not that interesting, aside from the links to Doyle, and the best hope of a bookshop on the High Street is W H Smith. But about 20 minutes away I found the beautiful village of Wadhurst.
Wadhurst is in the heart of the East Sussex countryside and is a proper English village with a church and pretty houses. The High Street is quite interesting and bustling with people. Barnett’s is located in a period property along the High Street and has double frontage with lovely book displays in the window.
I was fortunate enough to find myself the only customer and got to explore. The staff were beautifully and appropriately attentive, basically leaving me to explore but making sure I was ok.
The shop is divided into two rooms. At the back there is an extensive children’s section with seating areas and gorgeous displays. There were such lovely copies of some of the loveliest books like Swallows and Amazons, books that I am so glad that children are still encouraged to read. I was sorely tempted to buy some of the very lovely editions that they had for sale.
The front room of the shop has all manners of books to browse through and given the apparently tiny space the selection is extensive. There are biographies, books on nature, books on places and quite a number of bookcases filled with fiction, with a dedicated section for crime.
So it’s not as if I wasn’t happy already but then I saw a little nook dedicated to autism.
I bought a couple of books in the lovely shop and spoke with one of the booksellers there who explained that they had just had another authors event, apparently fairly regular in the shop and they have hosted all sorts of authors. She explained that the 82 year old owner of the shop was having a rare day off as this bookshop was his life! I exclaimed my delight about the shop and particularly the autism section. She told me that they also have a special section in the children’s area with books for children with dyslexia and who struggle with reading. She said the the children’s area was definitely the most popular area of the shop.
I paid by card and was given a lovely bag to take my books home in and apparently if I bring the bag back I get 5% off of my next purchase.
This is just one of those really important bookshops that I’m so glad to be supporting in my bookshop challenge. I told the lady that I had been inspired on my journey by The Diary of a Bookseller and asked her if she knew of any other local bookshops I could visit. Sadly she told me that there remain very few. And she was right.
The best I could find in a town with such important links to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle that they have erected a statue to him, that there is a cafe called Baskerville Cafe, that there is a care home called Holmes House and the sign on entering says that it is the home of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The best I could find there was a W H Smith.
Come on guys. Please support your local bookshop. These shops can’t buy the books as cheaply as Amazon sell them (unless they also buy them from Amazon which defeats the object).
Do you have a local bookshop? Are you fortunate enough to have a local bookshop?