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Bookshop of the Month: Book-ish, Crickhowell

By Liz Robinson on 15th August 2018

Book-ish in Crickhowell, Wales is absolutely nowhere near where I live, however it is still one of my favourite bookshops (and cafes) and I just have to stop off on route when visiting friends in the Brecons. I also thoroughly enjoyed the Crickhowell Literary Festival last year, which is organised by Emma at Book-ish and featured some top authors. I listened to the truly fabulous Jackie Morris talk about 'The Lost Words' just as it was being published, and thoroughly enjoyed the chat between Matt Johnson author of the ‘Robert Finlay’ trilogy and John Sutherland author of 'Blue: A Memoir'. Keep an eye on twitter @CrickLitFest to see more about the line up this autumn (Sophie Hannah and Kit de Waal feature).

Matt Johnson, author and Lovereading expert reviewer says: "Far more than a shop, Book-ish offers a complete reader package. Always assured of a friendly greeting from the knowledgeable staff, the range of food on offer and the opportunity to sit quietly and enjoy the first pages of your chosen read make it an experience not to be missed. Add in frequent author talks, community supporting events and their hugely popular Crickhowell Literary Festival each October and you have a recipe for success."

Questions and answers:

When was your bookshop born and how did that come about?

We opened in 2010 after I’d sold my building surveying business, I suddenly had the opportunity to do something that I knew I would love…..and I really do love being part of the bookselling world.

Tell us about the journey and the changes you have seen over the years.

We had a bumpy start, not only did we open in the middle of a recession at the height of the e-reader but we found we were expecting our Son a month after opening! Luckily we set our bookshop up in a wonderfully supportive community or booklovers. The e-reader sheen soon faded and publishers have made concerted effort to nurture indie booksellers, I feel there has never been more optimism within the trade than there is now.

Describe your shop in three words.

Anybody who’s ever met me will know that I am incapable of using just 3 words to describe anything!

Has the rise of digital retailers affected your bookshop, what were your first thoughts about ebooks and do you feel the same now? 

As we opened within a recession and after the initial grip of digital retailers and the collapse of the net book agreement I don’t feel we were affected too much as there is just no substitute to good customer service, hand selling and good conversation.

What is important in a great bookshop, tell us what sets you apart and makes you special.

Getting out from behind the counter, becoming involved in the local community and running great events for all ages. Bookish offers a space for people of all walks of life and interests to gather, talk and share…people feel comfortable walking through our doors and often become friends or build friendships through meeting at our events. 

Tell us about the books you love to recommend.

It completely depends on the customer but there’s nothing better than getting somebody excited about taking a book home. Currently we’re recommending books such as Meet me at the Museum, To Provide all People, Franklins Flying Bookshop and a great favourite of customers and staff alike The Lost Words.

What is your favourite part of your bookshop?

Where all the action is, the front of the shop where I get to talk to everybody who comes through the door!

Tell us a secret about books.

There are no secrets, books are for anyone and everyone.

Apart from yourselves, which other bookshop(s) do you love to spend time in?

I don’t manage to leave Crickhowell very often but I love Booths in Hay, Booka in Oswestry and Mr B’s in Bath…..I plan to visit many more over the next year. Including Linghams and Forum Books

What else do our members need to know about you

That they will always receive a warm welcome and a good book recommendation……followed by excellent food and drink in our new café!

If you enjoyed this post, why not read our other Bookshop of the Month Features?