Tuesday 8 October 2013

Play time will soon be over

When I started writing about bookshops I promised myself that this blog would be a positive one.

Today I fail in that promise, because I visited Nickel Books for children in the last days of its physical existence. And nothing about that can be considered positive.

I live in Kent and - while the county isn't bursting with bookshops - I'd decided to save those there are for times when I was unable to travel. And so when I heard about a bookshop in a nearby town offering bookcases for sale before closing its doors I felt like I'd failed. Admittedly Nickel Books in Sittingbourne had announced its closure months before this blog was born, but to think I could have missed the bookshop - and the feeling of powerlessness that I was unable to help - was horrible. While I'd never pretend that this blog could singlehandedly save the bookshop's fortunes I'd have liked to have at least done my bit to help.

So it was with sadness that - after a brief drive along the M2 - I wandered down the town's High Street, anticipating a depressing shop with bare shelves. The window filled with sale signs didn't help my optimism, but considering the bookshop had just one week of trading left it was surprisingly well-stocked. There was still a sense of sadness, but this was probably more my feeling than the fault of the shop itself, as it was filled with colour and books and toys to show me what the children of Sittingbourne will be losing.

At this point I'd love to tell you more about the varied selection of books on offer (which will still be available online), or the interaction with local children (they will continue to work with schools, albeit without a base for those youngsters to visit) and baby Eleanor's weekly recommendations (she was enjoying a nap when I visited), but to go into more detail just feels like I'm dwelling on the loss. Which is particularly poignant when you consider that this children's bookshop closes during Children's Book Week.

And it's not just the youngsters who'll be missing out, despite being a children's bookshop there was an area dedicated to adults too. Meaning while tots are having fun in the bright play area for very little children, or older readers are picking up their first proper books or teen reads, there's something to keep the grown ups busy (unless, like me, they end up enjoying the kiddy fun).

Personally, I ended up in the pre-school section, where I picked up my first Elmer the elephant book and struggled not to buy a gruffalo or two. As there was a closing down sale on I then grew up a little, picking up a copy of Michael Morpurgo's War Horse. Already an author I love, I felt spoiled to be getting my second book for free.

Nickel Books' final day of opening is Saturday, 12th October, so there is still time to go along and enjoy the bookshop before it's relegated to the virtual world.

Nickel Books
22a High Street, Sittingbourne, Kent ME10 4PD
Tel: 07462 778570


  1. Everyone says they like bookshops, but week after week we see them closing their doors. What is going on?

    1. Indeed, it's very sad. I hope we can at least open the eyes of a few more people to remind them of what's great about bookshops and why they should be appreciated. The more people who remember, the more we can hopefully save.

    2. My wife and I have vowed not to buy books from anywhere other than a proper bookshop, ideally an independent but if necessary a chain a la Waterstones.

      Its working so far!!

    3. That's good to hear G, I wish more people felt the same way.


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