Chorleywood Bookshop

IBW 2013

For the past week, we at Windmill have been celebrating Independent Booksellers’ Week with features, blogs and videos from us and our authors on the bookshops we love and why independent bookselling means so much.

To finish the week, we are delighted to have a Guest Blog from one of our favourite independents, Chorleywood Bookshop in Hertfordshire. For those not fortunate enough to have visited, Chorleywood Bookshop is a wonderful shop in a beautiful village. Its events programme, festival and fantastic range make it one of the best book buying experiences around and we are delighted to have them blogging for us.

It probably depends on your age but if you ask most people to think of a bookshop they either picture Hugh Grant flogging art books in in Notting Hill, J. R. Hartley  ringing round dusty antique bookshops looking for a volume on fly fishing or one of those rather impersonal high street stores that also sell coffee.

Chorleywood Bookshop is none of these. It is busy – very, very busy.  The phone never stops ringing, customers come in and out all day and most like to linger for a chat. Everyone knows the owners, Morag and Sheryl, because they don’t just run the bookshop – they run the village! The bookshop is the hub of the community. The village may be at the sleepy end of the Metropolitan line but the bookshop is far from quiet.

Of course the shop sells books but not just to the J. R. Hartleys of this world. They supply schools, run literary festivals and have author visits every month. Last week former MP Ann Widdecombe had 220 people in her enthral, at the weekend Paul Hollywood and Michelin chef Atul Kocher (among others!) had cooking enthusiasts queuing at the door for the  food festival, and as Independent  Booksellers’ Week continues there is an amazing line-up of authors to excite the village from former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw,  to TV presenter Richard Madeley (and wife Judy) and  bookshop champion Kate Mosse. A French-themed literary lunch at Chenies Manor with Edward Rutherfurd was the delicious event it promised to be and sold out at 98 seats, each and every attendee having a hardback copy of his new book included in the ticket price.

Independent Booksellers’ Week is an important time in the bookshop calendar and we also have  something for younger children with the bookshop getting behind the Guinness World Record attempt for the longest chain of paper dolls, inspired by the book Paper Dolls by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Rebecca Cobb. Rebecca came to Chorleywood on Thursday to visit three schools and to run a paper doll workshop in the shop and, in addition, this week alone Chorleywood Bookshop will have done seven school events with two different authors. As a prequel to IBW, we had a visit from Vintage author Sylvie Simmons with her ukulele and a surprise guest. The postscript to the week is another Vintage author, Roddy Doyle, and a competition to win tickets for the new Commitments show in the West End. Chorleywood Bookshop is proud to be Vintage Independent Bookshop of the Year 2012/13.

These days, a bookshop has to be so much more than a bookshop to survive. And that also means selling more than just books. Chorleywood Bookshop is a one stop shop for birthdays.  It is known for its extensive range of cards and people come from miles around to buy them.  And there are beautiful gifts, children’s toys, stationery, china… the list is endless, the passion evident!

To win a copy of one of Windmill’s bestselling titles in independent bookshops, Tweet us your favourite @WindmillBooks with the hashtag #IBW2013. 

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Windmill is the online home of literary publishers Windmill Books, William Heinemann and Hutchinson. Part of Penguin Random House UK.