Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Independent Dream Lives on. . .

Ever dreamed of opening your own bookstore? Well who hasn't? I certainly have, but my dream store would be so eccentrically stocked it would never make any money. Still we can live vicariously online through these brave entrepreneurs. Jessica Stockton-Bagnulo, an employee at McNally Robinson's New York store, has just won $15,000 in a contest presenting business plans for new ventures. She hopes to open her new bookstore in Brooklyn and has been blogging about her concepts and challenges at The Written Nerd (she also has great book recommendations). Or you can follow the adventures of Simon Key and Tim West, two former employees of a Waterstone's branch that closed in their North London neighbourhood. They have now decided to open their own bookstore, The Big Green Bookshop, and you can look on at their blog, Open a Bookshop, What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Despite the closures of so many independents over the last few years, there still are many success stories. One of these is Crockett and Powell, also in London, also with a great blog. It was at their blog that I first heard of one of their employees, Marie Phillips; her very funny, first book, Gods Behaving Badly, we subsequently ended up publishing. They were also where I first heard of Catherine O'Flynn's wonderful first novel, What Was Lost which we'll be publishing in June. These booksellers were so enthusiastic about it. Support your independent bookstores, both in your own neighbourhood and when you travel: we'd truly be lost without them.

And - just after posting this, I discovered via their fortnightly online letter that Persephone Books is opening another store, this time in Notting Hill. Hooray! You can read about it here, where there is also a lovely photo of the interior of their shop in the Bloomsbury area. I never go to London without stopping by - it' s truly delightful.

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