What to do in a bookshop: a helpful guide

What to do in a bookshop: a helpful guide

This coming Saturday, August 12, is Love Your Bookshop Day – a day to really show our local bookshops how much they mean to us. I’ve been on a (very loosely enforced) book-buying ban this year but I’m always up to send a little love in the direction of a bookshop! Come with me as I guide you through the book shopping experience.

Run your fingers along the spines

Within the book community, there are a lot of people who enjoy breathing in the smell of fresh pages. I am not one of these people. As someone who has suffered from chronic hay fever for my entire life, the days that I have been able to smell properly have been fairly limited. As a result, books have been more about the feel than the smell, for me.

Always make sure your hands are clean (PLEASE) before experiencing the raw joy of those perfectly rounded dust jackets, the foiling, embossing and the uncracked spines. It’s all beautiful and just as good as any smell (I imagine).

Don’t crack the spine

Copping a feel of a book is almost always accepted (do look out for signs to the contrary!) but cracking the spine of a book? Please don’t. It’s painful for everyone involved and will only cause you embarrassment in the long run. There are people who don’t enjoy having their book spines cracked even after they’ve been in their collection for years, so if you think it’s acceptable in a bookshop, you can think again.

Ask for recommendations

There are millions of people who love books so much they want to own a bookshop, or even just have the honour of working in one. When you walk into your local bookshop, you’re face-to-face with people who have achieved that dream. If they don’t know anything about books, feel free to walk out of there – that’s how confident I am that they’ll know their stuff or be able to refer you to another staff member who will. Asking them what you should read next will mean that you get an expert’s opinion on what you’ll like and you could be introduced to a new story that you might not have picked up otherwise.

Look beyond the YA section

Once those staff members have got you looking a little wider, let’s get past the big ol’ YA section – or whatever your vice is (for me, it’s the classics). Bookshops and libraries are the only two places where you can actually pick up a book, see if you like the design, the size, the font, the blurb or even the first chapter! You are allowed to flick through it to see if it’s up your alley – venture out of your comfort zone and see what’s out there; being adventurous in a bookshop will get you further than trying to click around on the internet.

Buy a book

If you’re anything like past me, you probably take pictures of books and then look them up on the Book Depository to get them for cheaper. Don’t get me wrong, the Book Depository is fantastic, especially when it comes to getting little known books or if you’re on a tight budget and don’t mind what condition your book arrives in (I’ve had some shockers).

Of course, online shopping has its perks, but there is nothing better than choosing the exact book you’re looking for, sliding it off the shelf, taking it to the counter and paying physical money to take it home with you. It’s a whole other experience and it’s worth paying an extra dollar or two to get that experience and know you’re getting what you paid for, rather than getting a nasty surprise in the post 7-10 working days later.

You don’t just get a great experience on the day; when you buy local, your money stays within your community in a whole host of different ways.

This weekend, and every weekend, get amongst your local bookshop and show it the love that it deserves.

What do you love about your local bookshop? What’s the first thing you do when you walk in?

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