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LoveReading Bookshop of the Month: The Grove Bookshop (Ilkley)

Liz Robinson

By Liz Robinson on 16th March 2020

The Grove Bookshop in Ilkley, Yorkshire, which first opened its doors in 1978 is an absolute cracker. In their basement a music department can be found, books and music is a rather wonderful combination, don't you think? It sounds as though they have a really knowledgeable and enthusiastic team there. The question about the rise of digital retailers shines a light on their ability to improve and to focus on the things that make a bookshop really special. The Grove Bookshop adore The Lost Words as much as we do at LoveReading, and have more than proven that in their answer to the question about books they love to recommend. Their secret about books is brilliant, and something worth shouting about! 

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

We first opened in November 1978. A local couple, Mr and Mrs Townson, decided that Ilkley needed a new bookshop in a prime position, and The Grove Bookshop was born.

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

Since then, the shop has changed hands twice, most recently in 2002. The current owner is Kevin Ramage, who also owns The Watermill in Aberfeldy and is involved with The Highland Bookshop in Fort William. Over the years we have acquired a music shop which operates from our basement selling CDs and sheet music. We have also become official booksellers at the annual Ilkley Literature Festival.

Describe your shop in three words.

Choice, Atmosphere, Service.

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

Initially we saw e-books as a threat and we feared the worst, but I think their presence has inspired bookshops and publishers to up their game, concentrating on the kind of thing that only bricks and mortar shops can offer. We can't compete on price, but we have speedy ordering, friendly, knowledgeable staff and a hand-picked selection of books chosen with our customers in mind.

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

The best bookshops offer a welcoming atmosphere, an attractive range of books and staff who love to talk to fellow booklovers. Customers regularly say they always find what they want or, better still, they always find something interesting. We also pride ourselves on being able to get most books for customers in 24 hours.

Tell us about the books you love to recommend.

Books which have caught our imagination over the last year or two include Stuart Turton's Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, Manda Scott's Treachery of Spies and of course The Lost Words, which thanks to our collaboration with a customer is now in every primary school library in Ilkley.

What is your favourite part of your bookshop?

Our children's department is only small, but has a cracking selection of books and punches well above its weight when it comes to overall shop sales. And our window displays are incredible, thanks to a lot of hard work by Amy and her colleagues, who often win awards for their inventive use of props.

Tell us a secret about books.

They feel good, they smell good and they are still a very affordable treat. A paperback book still meets Allen Lane's criterion of costing no more than a pack of cigarettes, and it comes without the guilt or the health risk!

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

Locally we love Salt's Mill at Saltaire, a hugh Victorian mill with a mouthwatering display of books and paintings, aswell as the Ripon Bookshop, just up the road, where space is at a premium but you'd never know. Further afield I'm a big fan of Heywood Hill in London and the amazing News from Nowhere in Liverpool.

What else do our members need to know about you?

Our staff have decades of bookselling experience between them, and every book we stock is carefully chosen. You'll always find the latest bestsellers, but we love to revive interest in an author from longer ago, examples being Josephine Tey, Mary Stewart, Elizabeth Taylor and Eric Ambler. Our local section is extensive, covering history, topography and some cracking fiction.

Keep Up to date with The Grove Bookshop:

Twitter: @GroveBookshop


Instagram: thegrovebookshop

Facebook: TheGroveBookshop

If you enjoyed this article why not check out our other Bookshop Features?

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