Thursday 19 May 2016

A tiny surprise

One of my favourite surprises is that of stumbling across a previously unknown-to-me bookshop. It doesn't happen often but when it does it's like the excitement of Christmas as a child.

Which is exactly what happened one Sunday in Rye, East Sussex. I was wandering around the town, admiring the quaint cobbled streets and generally enjoying the randomness of the beautiful historic homes when, turning right at the church, I spotted a sign for The Tiny Book Store. As I'd just walked past a closed antiquarian bookshop, this unexpected encounter was a particularly welcome surprise.

The front of this bookshop is as picturesque as its surroundings, with a little quirkiness in the window for the more keen observer.

Opening the door, the first glance is of a very small hall, leading into a slightly less small (but still very tiny) bookshop. It's a marvellous space to enter.

Given how tiny this bookshop is you'd think there wouldn't be much to see, but that's far from the case. Every shelf is worth discovering, but in between the books quirky (there's that word again) elements are also to be found. From miscellany in cases to unique handmade art on the walls, every inch of space is filled with items to admire, browse and buy.

Of course, the secondhand books are equally appealing: from stunning hardbacks of note to paperbacks for the everyday reader. The general fiction, classics, history and children's shelves caught my eye, but a range of subjects are offered and the poetry section is particularly generous – as the bookseller later told me, poetry and art are among their priorities.

Our conversation began with the bookseller offering me a small chocolate egg* from the bowl on the side table in the corner where he was sitting. I was already in heaven with the books surrounding me, throwing in chocolate simply confirmed my happiness.

After he politely heard my enthusiasm about the joy of stumbling across his bookshop, we covered books, local authors (E F Benson, Rumer Godden, Henry James, et al), bookshops and a wealth of random subjects in between. One of my particular pleasures is finding a good bookseller to chat to while I browse and in Antonio I'd found a great one.

When I finally told him about this blog our talk returned to the bookshop, including favourite stock, encouraging your readers and a particularly unusual loyalty scheme involving old English pennies: spend £10 and receive a penny, next time you visit (with your penny) you're entitled to a discount. No penny, no discount. Prices are reasonable so my purchase of Mapp & Lucia by E F Benson didn't hit the £10 target, but as a result of our conversation I was still generously offered a penny.

Where some people have photos of loved ones, my wallet now carries the penny as a reminder of my visit. Not that I need the penny to jog my memory: bookshops like The Tiny Book Store aren't quickly forgotten.

The Tiny Book Store
70 Church Square, Rye,
East Sussex, TN31 7HF
Tel: 07784 942047

* My visit took place on Easter Sunday.


  1. That was lovely to read,and makes me want to visit Rye. Keep up the good work...

    1. Thank you! Rye is definitely worth a visit, especially for this bookshop.

  2. Beautifully written. I love tiny bookshops with some warmth in it...

    1. Thank you, in which case I definitely recommend a visit to The Tiny Book Store.

  3. Found this place by accident as well, and several books emigrated to Texas.

    1. Excellent. It's good to see this bookshop is known internationally!

  4. We too love this bookshop and are sad to learn Antonio passed away earlier this year and the Tiny Book Store is no more.


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