• The Publishing Post

Indie Bookshops: Annual Moments

By Tehzib Janjua and Shuangyue Zhao


It is time for us to explore how some of the UK’s glorious independent bookshops are marking annual moments like Black History Month, Halloween and the ever-closer Christmas, all whilst spotlighting lots of regional indie bookstores.


Manchester Picks


B is for Butterfly Books (Emporium M33, 3–7 Tatton Road, M33 7EB Sale) is discreetly located in Emporium M33 and specialises in children’s books, but not to worry, they can order in any book as long as it is still in print in the UK.


The lead up to holidays like Halloween and Christmas can have caregivers of children reeling to keep up. B is for Butterfly Books is the perfect way to kill two birds with one stone. Through this indie bookshops' wide array of children’s literature, you can be sure to find both a great costume idea for Halloween, and also eye up possible books to keep up their bookish interests.


In case that doesn't tempt you, their Fiver Fest event will make book buying that much more accessible and financially viable.


Not sure what to get that friend who loves books but has a pretty niche taste? Check out Chorlton Bookshop (506 Wilbraham Road M21 9AW Manchester) and their seemingly never-ending bookish delights!


Full of not just a large range of books, both in genre and scope, you can be sure to find some delightful bookish accessories that would make the perfect stocking gifts. On offer are gifts such as 3D bookmarks and Jellycat toys (from your standard animals to pumpkins, bell peppers and much more) you’ll be sure to find the perfect gift for the perfectly difficult-to-find-gifts-for.


London Picks


Once you get out of the tube station, you will find South Kensington Books (22 Thurloe St, London SW7 2LT). With a great range of books, the independent bookshop has satisfied the appetite for knowledge of both local residents and new visitors for approximately eighty years on this site. Many hurried passers-by slow down in front of the light green simple exterior and enter to be surrounded by books, feeling a moment of tranquillity.


Despite the limited room, currently, a Halloween book collection is specially placed in the centre of this shop where ghost and occult related books are lying neatly. Three pumpkin lanterns hung above to set the mood for this unique festival, thereby people can recognise the motif easily.


Heading to central London, you may notice a second-hand bookshop with forest green theme, two glass windows, and several book display cabinets outside. Any Amount of Books (56 Charing Cross Rd, London WC2H 0QA) might not be the biggest store on this famous bookshop road yet has its own charming personality. From £1 bargains to rare first editions, from modern literature to antique uncorrected proofs, this open seven-days-a-week independent shop is known for its wide range of books reserved whose stock is still refilling every day.


While managing daily affairs, the shop pays particular attention to linking their book sales to specific moments throughout the annual calendar. To mark Black History Month in October, they have filled a whole window with Black authors’ books and used their media to call on people to support a number of Black owned bookshops in London.


Keep going north and you will arrive at Upper Street Bookshop (42 Upper St, London N1 0PN) in Islington. Golden words on the dark green background, Neil Gaiman’s quote “A book is a dream you hold in your hand” can be seen clearly. Delicate cards and a table of books are shown at the entrance of the indie shop, where there is also a wooden bookshelf standing, selling books wrapped in kraft paper, on which there are some hints like “space trip,” “psychohistory,” “dark humour,” “tunnels,” “human nature,” and “ghosts.” This is the exceptional romance of this shop – “blind date with a book.” During Black History Month, plenty of newly republished Black classics are front and centre in this bookstore such as Nella Larsen’s Quicksand and Passing.


Next, located in a relatively quiet lane in Chelsea (10–12 Blacklands Terrace, London SW3 2SR), John Sandoe Books can provide you with a full reading list for Christmas. This 65-year-old indie bookstore has a beautiful appearance – clean walls in black and white, colourful books which can be seen from the outside and bright red flowers blooming by the windows. When entering, you will probably be surprised at its three-floor large space, sophisticated structure and myriad of books everywhere.


Every season, the shop team handpicks a book catalogue and makes it into concise booklets which you can easily grab a copy of onsite. When approaching Christmas, a long list is selected as an elaborate year-end summary, containing all genres of books as well as the team’s recent favourites. This shop also offers book bundles with interesting motifs such as Witticisms, Roaming, Japan, Fiction in Translation and its own gift tokens and bags. What’s more, the shop accepts mail orders almost worldwide, and their podcast updates monthly on their website, Spotify, iTunes and wherever you listen to podcasts.


We hope the Bookshops team have brought you up to date and prepared for the upcoming festive seasons!

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