A glance at some of the UK’s most amazing bookshops, chosen by ALCS members for #LoveMyBookshop

You told us about your favourite bookshops, the pivotal role they play in your community and the positive impact they've had on you. Here’s a look at just some of those gems...

Gill Tennant, who lives in Orkney, says: “As a first-time author of a specialist subject I didn’t expect huge sales of my first collection of short stories about cellos and cellists, but my local bookshop Stromness Books has really pulled out the stops and sold more copies of my American published book, than any other single outlet, including Amazon! I live in Orkney, population about 23,000 plus summer visitors, although less recently. My town has a population of about 2,200 so it has been truly amazing.”


The same goes for Matt Adcock. After the publication of his sci-fi book Complete Darkness, his local Waterstones in Hitchin put on a window display and stocked up on copies, helping to boost sales on launch day.


One thing that stood out from the testimonials you all sent in is that our local bookshops in the UK have become such adaptable and interesting spaces for their local communities.

Chris Hanvey from Topsham, says his bookshop Topsham Bookshop in East Devon serves as a focal point for his village: “Here, in addition to books being bought and sold, photocopying can be done, tourist information provided to many visitors exploring the narrow main street, readings, talks and social events take place, tickets for local plays and concert can be bought and for the captains of other boats, there is even information about the local tides.

The renaissance owner of the bookshop spanning over three floors of a 17th century building, Lily Neal is not only a pivotal figure in the town’s promotional “LoveTopsham” campaign, but a talented musician and regular midwife to local Devon authors. Lily has edited poetry, fiction and local biographies, assisted in the publication processes for aspiring writers and hosted talks and readings to launch new frigates.

Wider cultural impact

Bookshops are intrinsic to representing writing by being involved in the wider network of events within the culture sector. Five Leaves Bookshop in Nottingham, submitted by one of our members, attends the De Montfort University’s Leicester Centre for Creative Writing annual book fair. The event spans everything from writing workshops to panel discussions on indie publishing, allowing local bookshops to share best practice with how to positively contribute.

Jackie Goode, Member from Nottingham, says: “Five Leaves Bookshop in Nottingham is a long-standing and much-valued feature of our cultural scene. It… supports local talent and its local community with a great rolling programme of literary events. They were generous enough to host a launch for my own edited collection of autoethnographies of class, gender and ethnicity; they were fantastic during lockdown when they posted out orders for free; and to top it all, they’re lovely people!”