Saturday 3 October 2020

Bookshop Day 2020

Today is Bookshop Day, one of my favourite Saturdays of the year. It's a day for getting up early, starting a long journey and visiting as many bookshops as I can between the hours of 9am and 6pm.

It's a day of adventure, of new friends, of new worlds, of new experiences, and – inevitably – of a very nice amount of tea and cake along the way.

My bank balance would end the day battered and bruised, my face would hurt from smiling so much, my feet from walking, and my mood would be one of overwhelming joy at all the experiences I'd had and the books I'd bought. It's a wonderful day and has previously included anything from five to 15 bookshops, with a minimum of one book purchased in each.

For all of us 2020 has been a little different (understatement of the century), but it's not until today that I've properly felt the loss of the world as it was compared to the world as it is now. I'd dearly love to be embarking on another bookshop crawl, but for me that's simply not an option at this time.

I'm lucky in that I'm making the most of the many measures independent bookshops have put into place: I've been buying books by Twitter, email, website and phone, and I'm grateful to every independent bookseller who has listened to my requests, advised me on the possibilities and – always successfully – introduced me to a new read.

These last months have been the only time in my life when I've bought books in a way other than face-to-face and it's been hard. It's not the same as walking into a bookshop and being grabbed by a random book sighting from across the room – not forgetting the feel of the books, the noise of the pages and the wonderful smell of a good bookshop – and I admit I'm struggling to adjust to this different way of book buying, but my goodness I'm grateful for the booksellers who have supported me during this time.

Yes, it really is the booksellers who are supporting me.

They're real people with thoughts and opinions and they know when to offer a similar book to your previous read and when to go off at a tangent. They discuss the possibilities and are honest when they're not sure if what they've suggested is quite right but at least it's a good starting point. They are not an algorithm.

Now, more than ever, booksellers are worth their weight in gold.

We need independent bookshops, but for them to be there for us we need to be there for them too. This Bookshop Day, and every day, please support your local indie.