IBW2021: Sarah Clarke on ‘the best bookshop in the world’

To celebrate Independent Bookshop week, Sarah Clarke – author of the upcoming new gripping thriller A Mother Never Lies – discusses ‘the best bookshop in the world ever’!

The best bookshop in the world

In my other job as a marketing copywriter, I write a lot about the ‘retail experience’ and how to keep the High Street ‘relevant’ in our e-commerce world. I often use independent bookshops as an example of how to do it right, because all the buzz words we use nowadays – connecting with customers, increasing dwell time, creating memorable experiences – bookshops have been doing so forever.

As a reader, I was brought up by The Book House in Thame. And a bit like it is with your own children, I’m quietly smug that my local bookshop was actually the best in the world ever.

First of all, it looks more like a cosy home for books than an actual shop. It’s a pretty period house on the High Street with sash windows and a proper front door. It’s even got a secret garden. My friends and I would walk through the front and mid sections where the tills were, all polite greetings and butter wouldn’t melt smiles. Then we’d get to the adult-free back section (think back of the bus syndrome) and slouch, and laugh, and READ.

Later, once I’d decided I wanted to become an author, I remember sitting on their floor for hours with a notepad and pen. It was before all the internet resources we have now, and a time when submitting to publishers directly was the norm. I was young and broke, and trying to avoid investing in the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook. The staff happily let me look at all the books in my genre, and write down as much detail as I could elicit from the pages inside. It was so brilliant to feel encouraged by people who loved books like I did.

I live in London now and haven’t been to The Book House for many years. But I have discovered that it is still going strong, and as I’m writing this, I’m also eagerly planning a visit.

Read the rest of the IBW2021 series here. Sarah Clarke’s A Mother Never Lies is coming soon.

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