Your bookshops #14, Books & Ink Bookshop

As you know, I'm always pleased to hear about other people's happy bookshop experiences and so when Stephen told me he'd written about a place I've long wanted to visit I was cheeky and asked if he'd mind providing a condensed version to post here. As bloggers are generally lovely people he kindly agreed...

Books & Ink Bookshop
4 White Lion Shopping Walk, Banbury, Oxfordshire, OX16 5UD
Tel: 01295 709769
Published: 6th March, 2016

Just before Christmas, it was my blog’s second anniversary – although I had initially lacked a way of marking it. However, happenstance (as is its wont) provided divine inspiration (‘theopneusty’), by way of a necessary visit to our nearest railway station; and a consequential impulsive diversion to Books & Ink: “Banbury’s Independent Booksellers” – which has just celebrated its tenth birthday. Huzzah!

The fact I only left with five small(ish) volumes is something of a miracle – but, as a lifelong bibliophile (especially one with a reading mound that is beginning to resemble Haystacks – both in outline and immensity), I know one must only enter such an Elysium after a lengthy pause; a very deep breath; and an establishment of sensible(ish) limits. (Plus, of course, books are weighty things: and I am not as strong or youthful as I was – once carrying home every single work by Plato I could lay my hands on in the university bookshop – albeit in paperback. (I was studying engineering.))

Samantha Barnes – who “runs the shop single-handedly apart from her mum” – is utterly representative of the business she has built (or possibly the other way around: this is definitely an archetypal “room of one’s own”): an enthusiastic and extremely knowledgeable lover of all things literary. Talk of books – what else – and her face lights up with what I can only describe as encyclopaedic joy!

Consequently, my first time there went all too quickly: helped, of course, by our similar, overlapping tastes – albeit somewhat omnivorous… – and a shared reverence for the power of print, and its relevance to life (as well as the fact it is simply wonderful to be surrounded by cocooning walls of wordage). It’s always a treat to wander into any bookshop – but especially one that is as welcoming, beautifully kept and organised, and well-stocked as this: and where a large majority of the books are demanding to be taken home. (I was so engrossed by the contents of the ground floor that I never even made it up the enticing stairs! Next time…)

This is therefore a place to linger. And it must be said the shop itself has a mystique that would not feel out of place on Diagon Alley: such is its magical allure. (No wonder those who visit White Lion Walk – a sort of modern muggle facsimile – rarely do so only once; and that loyal customers may travel quite some distance to visit.) In fact, its location – “up a pretty alley I’ve never noticed before” – in Banbury Old Town, seems so apposite; and makes it a place you have to actively seek: knowing the rewards for doing so will be immeasurable, unquantifiable by any tangible means (apart from arm-ache, of course). Whatever your predilection, this place is a perfect paradise.


Thank you to Stephen for allowing an abridged version of his experience at Books & Ink Bookshop to appear in #YourBookshops. If you'd like to read the full version (you would) then I suggest you click here.

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