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The Book Nook is an award-winning Independent Children’s Bookshop and just had to be one of our Bookshops of the Month. They have a child-friendly cafe, storytimes, author events, and, and, and… a pirate ship in their cafe to play in! Just look at that pirate ship, I want to drop everything and go there right now! The fact that they are celebrating their ten year anniversary this year shows how Bookshops don’t just survive, they can also thrive in our towns. We at LoveReading love a good chocolate brownie, and stroke books too - so would be right at home in The Book Nook.
When was your bookshop born and how did that come about?
The Book Nook opened in March 2009 and we have been enjoying celebrating our 10 year anniversary throughout the year. Together we had experience working in both publishing and teaching which we felt made for an exciting dynamic when it came to opening a children’s bookshop. There wasn’t a specialist independent children’s bookshop in Brighton and Hove and we felt there was a real need for one, especially with so many young families in the area. We actually opened in the middle of a recession and lots of people thought it wasn’t a great idea but we both felt passionately that there was a need and that we wanted to develop and encourage a love of books and reading in young people.
Tell us about the journey and the changes you have seen over the years.
We have evolved over the years moving our popular pirate ship from the middle of the shop to the café to enable more room for vibrant and creative displays. There are so many beautiful books out there that we needed more space. We now carefully curate our selection of books ensuring we have a lovely range that reflects our independent spirit alongside popular reads. We have always been community orientated and events driven and work hard to provide a range of author/illustrator events, craft activities, dress up days and external events that will appeal to all ages. Our website has also opened up a whole new customer base and is allowing us to expand in different ways from sending signed stock around the world, introducing new customers to our amazing events and encouraging teachers to sign up for our newsletter.
Describe your shop in three words.
Vibrant, Magical 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?
We never really felt threatened by ebooks or online retailers as the children’s market is so robust. In a bookshop, you can pick up, leaf through and touch the books before you decide what to buy. Nothing can take away the joy of physically holding a book in your hand; especially children’s books which are made to be shared. When ebooks emerged, companies were trying to get us to stock e-readers but it was a product we never wanted to sell. Books for us are tactile, beautiful items – you can quite often find one of our staff members stroking a beautiful book cover and exclaiming as they unpack new books.
What is important in a great bookshop, tell us what sets you apart and makes you special?
A good bookshop will have helpful staff passionate about books, an enticing range of stock and a welcoming atmosphere. It will often be at the heart of the community. Our belief that there is a book out there for every child and our passion and love for the books contributes to what makes us special. Our customers visit from all over the country and far beyond as they are attracted by our events, stock and knowledgeable staff. We are very blessed being located in Brighton and Hove as we are surrounded by many supportive, kind and generous authors and illustrators such as Chris Riddell, Liz Pichon, Sophy Henn and many more who always find time to visit us and make their many fans very happy!
Tell us about the books you love to recommend.
Most of our time is spent recommending books to people and we love trying to match a book to a customer. The most satisfying part of our job is recommending a book to a really reluctant reader and for them to come back the following week and ask for more. Vanessa loves recommending quality texts, especially beautiful picture books such as Leon and the Place Between whilst Julie loves humorous chapter books for younger readers such as Dave Pigeon. Naomi is always keen to recommend quirky middle-grade adventures like Malamander and Carmen loves a gripping YA book and is busy recommending Bearmouth at the moment.
What is your favourite part of your bookshop?
Our favourite part of our bookshop is our reading chair. It is an old worn Chesterfield that was donated to us by a mystery benefactor (we found it outside our shop early on attached to the door with a ribbon!) We liken it to the Sorting Hat in that it will help you decide which books you want to buy when looking at more than one.
Tell us a secret about books.
We don’t know if it’s a secret but… books are MAGIC!
Apart from yourselves, which other bookshop(s) do you love to spend time in?
When we’re out and about we always seek out the nearest independent in the vicinity as each shop has its own distinctive style and character; that’s what makes independent bookshops so brilliant!
What else do our members need to know about you?
We are secretly very proud of our trophy cabinet having won three Bookseller Industry Awards and several Brighton and Hove Business Awards. We also have the best chocolate brownies in Brighton and Hove.
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