This week is Independent Booksellers Week. (Yes, I know it’s Friday already, but you still have the weekend to celebrate.)

Here in Bradford on Avon we are lucky enough to have an independent bookshop, Ex Libris. Run by Jim and Carol, it is a quirky, friendly place packed to the gunwales with books to interest and delight everyone. And we are extra lucky because Ex Libris is joining with Bradford on Avon library to help us put on our Mini Book Fest.

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Sadly, not every town has its own independent nowadays, and we at BOAMBF are very sad about that, because it means so many people are missing out on so much.

For example:

1) Independents are run by people who CARE. They LOVE books. And by this I don’t mean they love only the books which are already bestsellers, which have already been widely reviewed and talked about. They also love that little book about pigeons/cricket/dragon-slaying/snowdrops/the boy who turned into a moose which you never knew existed but, boy, are you glad it was recommended for you because it has changed your life.

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2) They stock INTERESTING and VARIED titles – sometimes books from other cultures which you wouldn’t otherwise come across. I found a beautiful picture book in Hunting Raven Bookshop in Frome which was from Korea. It contained only illustrations and was about two shy, nervous children who met in an over-crowded swimming pool and made friends. It was unusual, thought-provoking and different. It was not the ‘more of the same’ kind of picture book which is readily availably online or in a large high street store.

FI_bookstore3) They are run by FRIENDLY staff who will take the time to chat to you and suggest new books. Many’s the time I have popped into an independent bookshop to ask for a recommendation for a friend or to take away on holiday.

4) They are excellent places to stay and BROWSE. If you are ever stuck with an hour to kill before your bus or train leaves or you need a warm and safe place to arrange to meet a friend, find an independent bookshop to hide out in. You will discover treasures you didn’t know existed and these days many stores offer free coffee too while you browse! What’s not to like?

5) You can ORDER any book from an independent and they will more often than not get you the copy the VERY NEXT DAY. This is often better than an online retailer, you don’t have to pay postage and you get to hold the book in your hands and not have to dispose of unnecessary cardboard packaging.

6) It is a great way to SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL COMMUNITY. A bookshop can be a hub for a community – a place where events are held which bring people together, such as author signings and talks. It also keeps your local high street alive and buzzing.

So wherever you are this weekend, try and pop into the nearest independent bookshop for a browse. And if you can’t manage that, come to our Book Fest on 10th and 11th July and meet the folk from Ex Libris.

Happy Book Buying!