Friends Meeting House in the town. I wasn't able to attend this, but I've kept the info about all the writers and books featured, for future reference!
Sadly in Tunbridge Wells, though we have 2nd hand bookshops, charity bookshops, and chain bookshops (Waterstones and WH Smith) we no longer have an independent bookshop, though in nearby Sevenoaks there is a fantastic indie. Whenever I go in there my mouth literally starts watering at all the gorgeous books on display. We are also grateful to them for stocking both of our Odd Dog Press publications.
When I lived in Islington in the late 1970s, my boyfriend (now long-time husband!) and I had no TV. Instead, we read a lot. There was a wonderful 2nd hand bookshop in Upper Street then, the Compton Bookshop, run by a very nice gay couple. We used to pop in on a Saturday morning and spend a couple of quid each on a pile of books (good clean paperbacks at 20p a throw then), and go back a month or so later for another lot.
My mother told me that my Dad, in his 70s by then, had been reading a Graham Greene autobiography which had mentioned a book Greene had loved as a child - The Pirate Aeroplane by Major Gilson. My Dad also had read this as a boy, and had longed to read it again but never been able to find a copy. I spoke to the guys at the Compton, and they placed an ad in the book trade papers. A month or two later I received a postcard from them - they had been offered two copies, one in very good condition, with an excellent
dust-cover, and could sell me this at the princely sum of £2! Of course I bought it, packed it up and sent it off to Spain. Mum told me that Dad had wept with joy and pleasure when he opened it. I have the book on my shelves today. Still not got round to reading it - it's a very early 20th century boys' adventure book of its pre-World War One time, so not entirely politically correct today - but I treasure what my Dad has written on the inside cover, including the following: This "discovery" (Foyles couldn't help me!) seems to me to have
something of "magic" about it. I only know that this amazing 'find' has done
something wonderful to my morale. I feel that God MUST like me a little bit to
give me this lovely surprise!
Well gentle readers, that's what an independent bookshop did for me and my old Dad! I know that Amazon has made it possible for us all to access practically anything from around the world through the post, and of course, that is pretty amazing and welcome in its place, but let's not forget that without libraries and bookshops, and the love and hard work which so many people who work in them put in on a daily basis, those books might not be there to buy. And at least some of the time, in order for the hard copy industry to survive, and for writers to earn an honest crust, we need to pay the full price (another blog, another time!).
Support your local independent bookshop!