Looking for a small independent book store these days is rather like searching for the Holy Grail. All too often in our small towns you can sense the echo of what was once a bustling bookshop, only to find it replaced with the ubiquitous cut price toiletries shop, or even worse, another mobile phone shop.
I know that my own northern town lost its independent bookshop some years ago, and whilst it has been replaced by one of the large chain book stores, somehow the ambience isn't the same. The bookshop I remember had been in place since my childhood, and in the 1970s, it was where I went when I needed a new pen for school, and where I dashed to grab one of the first copies of Love Story by Erich Segal - how I loved that book!!
When, in the early 1990s, I discovered that I could order my favourite American author's books, Smiths of Wigan, was the only place I thought of going to place my order, and looked forward to getting that phone call to say that my book had arrived - somehow an email pinging into my inbox from an on-line book seller doesn't have the same kind of thrill.
Imagine my delight when I discovered in a neighbouring small market town, a sign shining like a beacon of hope. I had discovered my own Holy Grail......
Ebb & Flo
12 Gillibrand Street
A glorious independent bookshop -which not only had the delicious scent of new books but also the dazzling aroma of coffee and the enticing lure of cake. It is obvious that the proprietress, Diane, has a real passion for books and is doing all she can to encourage reader participation by organising author events and reading groups.
So, if your town is lucky enough to still have its indie bookshop - do pop in to browse, buy, and to say hello, and instead of hearing the ping of an email from an on-line book seller, you hear instead the ping of a shop door as it opens into an Aladdin's cave of literary adventure.
Go out and find your very own Holy Grail.