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We have a fairly new bookshop starring as our LoveReading Bookshop of the Month for August. J. E. Books within Hepworth’s Arcade in Hull only opened their doors in late 2018, they sell all things books and during lockdown quickly adapted to sell online. I have to say that I have my eyes on one of those book bags decorating the window, “Go away, I’m reading” would come in particularly handy! While the new books would shout 'buy me', there really is nothing better than perusing pre-loved books, so this looks like a destination you could definitely spend some quality time in.
When was your bookshop born and how did that come about?
I opened my bookshop in September 2018. It all came about quite quickly really. I'd been working for the civil service, turned 50 in the June, and I just started thinking about how great it would be to have my very own independent bookshop. The deal was clinched really when I saw there was a vacant shop unit in Hepworth's Arcade in Hull's Old Town. It is a 19th century arcade and one of my favourite places in Hull - it all just seemed right. I now sell new and second-hand books as well as literary gifts.
Tell us about the journey and the changes you have seen over the years.
Because I have only been open for nearly two years, my journey is still new but of course this year has given us all challenges. I count myself lucky being in the arcade surrounded by other independent traders as we are all tentatively start trading again. I have also needed to adapt and have started encouraging customers to buy online too for home delivery if they are not able to come to the shop.
Describe your shop in three words.
Independent, friendly and welcoming.
Has the rise of digital retailers affected your bookshop, what were your first thoughts about ebooks and do you feel the same now?
As I have only been trading since 2018, I opened the shop in the knowledge of the power of digital retailers, the competition of ebooks etc. I walked into this with the idea that the death of books has been greatly exaggerated and the business I have been doing confirms this. It seems to me that people like the printed page when they also like ebooks, and they can sit side by side.
What is important in a great bookshop, tell us what sets you apart and makes you special.
I wanted my bookshop to be welcoming and inclusive and for all customers to feel that there might be a book here for them. Because I've always loved reading, I wanted to share that pleasure with others and to create a welcoming atmosphere in the shop and on social media. I doubt this sets me apart - it's just where I'm coming from - and I think reading a book you love is magic.
Tell us about the books you love to recommend.
This is a difficult one as it depends on who you are talking to and what they might be interested in but I'll give it a go - for non-fiction, I especially like Quiet by Susan Cain because it looks at things from the introvert's perspective and if you are an introvert (like me), reading this can be like putting on a new pair of specs. Fiction - I'm particularly keen on recommending Kate Atkinson as Life After Life really blew me away with all the endless possibilities one life can have.
What is your favourite part of your bookshop?
It is a cute and bijou shop - but I think the favourite part has to be where it is - in Hepworth's Arcade.
Tell us a secret about books.
Reading can be a refuge, passport, magic carpet and an education - perhaps not a secret but something worth remembering when things get tough.
Apart from yourselves, which other bookshop(s) do you love to spend time in?
My all time favourite bookshop is in Paris - the Shakespeare and Company near Notre Dame. The rows and rows of shelves of books and the place all combine to make it a magnet for book lovers. There is something calming about being surrounded by books and readers and I would love it if my customers also felt like this.
What else do our members need to know about you?
Thank you to all the readers out there supporting us independent traders. It is appreciated so much - the buying of books, the likes and supportive comments and retweets - all of it is great. I have been so touched over these past few months that people still manage to take time out to ask how the shop is going and to wish me well going forward.
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