Today’s Independent Bookshop is Stroud bookshop – Nikki Owen’s local, so she had a chat to the owner and tells us all about it.
My local bookshop: Stroud Book Shop, Stroud, Gloucestershire
Why I love it: I love our local bookstore because it reminds me why local bookshops are so essential. It’s not only brimming with books from all walks of life, but it’s brimming with people too, and with that comes a real sense of community. Charles, who runs the store, is softly spoken and very well known in Stroud now, and to see everyone use the shop regularly is a real delight, especially when you see tiny kids (including mine, who are a tad older now) getting all excited there about the latest books. Charles also is in touch with local authors and he regularly has (and publicizes) signing sessions when new novels come out. Oh, and it’s opposite a coffee shop – what more could you want!
I had a chat with Charles of Stroud book shop and asked him what he views is the role of the local book store and how, over the years, that role – and the publishing industry – has evolved:
“A smaller town like Stroud isn’t big enough to have a Waterstones, but there’s still a need to have a cultural centre in the town. So I guess we’re providing not only access to books, but there’s a notice board we have on the entire window here facing outside where local events can be advertised – so it’s not just about having a bookshop, but I think it fulfills a function in the local community.
Also from the point of view of book, the shop’s important because always the danger has seemed to me, one that’s quite significant, it’s seemed to be that when Amazon was growing and Waterstones and all the other chains were either disappearing or shrinking, it was that books, as a result, were beginning to become invisible to the average buyer, because, I mean, not everyone lives in a big city near a chain book store. And so, as a sort of gift option for example, or for themselves, books were going lower down in the hierarchy of their preferences, and it was ending up that they weren’t thinking, ‘Ooo, there’s a book shop, I’ll get a book to read or get one for a gift for my friend.’ We felt it was a real danger for the book as a whole, and I felt that it was a real threat – facilitated, ironically, by publishers – that books were disappearing off the high street. Small bookshops are great for just making books visible.
We first started the bookshop in 1992, so that’s 20 odd years now. The key change we’ve seen since the demise of the net book agreement is that we’ve seen greater competition, you know, with supermarkets and the Internet. And the Internet, I think, is the biggest threat, you know with I’d say about a third of all books sold going through the Internet.
The recession and the last 8 years have been significant in terms of our survival. We had a children’s bookshop, which we’ve had to integrate, unfortunately now into the main shop. But from the point of view of the town, of Stroud, things are looking more prosperous now than when we started. You know, we have the Stroud farmers’ market here every Saturday and that’s meant a lot of people come by here when they’re in town. But it is dependent on having quite a discerning clientele here and in the surrounding areas, you know, needing people who may make the conscious decision to use Stroud, to use the high street as opposed to out of town shops, so, yeah, as a result, I think it’s probably more vibrant now than it’s ever been.”
23 High Street
Nikki Owen is the author of Subject 375.
Find out more about her Here
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About Subject 375
What to believe
Who to betray
When to run…
Plastic surgeon Dr Maria Martinez has Asperger’s. Convicted of killing a priest, she is alone, in prison and has no memory of the murder.
DNA evidence places Maria at the scene of the crime, yet she claims she’s innocent. Then she starts to remember…
A strange room. Strange people. Being watched.
As Maria gets closer to the truth she is drawn into a web of international intrigue and must fight not only to clear her name but to remain alive.
You can purchase Subject 375 HERE
Happy Reading Folks!