It’s the latest in my sporadic Friday feature, where I want to highlight some of the many independent book shops that are out there waiting to be discovered. Whilst there are the usual online book retailers and big name high street shops there are also some wonderful independent bookshops with a treasure trove of literary delights to uncover. There is nothing quite like browsing in a book shop, seeing the books, being able to actually look at them before deciding and of course the booksellers and owners are often a mine of information, a much underused resource.
The sad thing is that unless they are used they will vanish from our towns and villages. The childhood (and to be fair, grown up) delight of visiting a book shop and being able to sit amongst so many books, deciding which new unearthed treasure to take home will be sadly lost.
The seventh bookshop to be virtually visited is Burway Books in Church Stretton, Shropshire.
1. Tell us about Burway Books.
Burway Books was established in September 1974 by Rosalind Ephraim with help from her Mum and Dad. Rosalind still owns and runs the shop, with part-time help from her son, Alun, along with local girls Hilary Jones (who is also a writer) and undergraduate Natasha Savage. We all have a love of books and a wealth of knowledge about the local area.
We stock over 6,000 titles and also offer an ordering service if we don’t stock what you’re looking for (normally within 24-48 hours). We have a great selection of fiction, literary classics, poetry, history, children’s and young adult books, nature writing, theology, the local area, geology, maps (see question 2) …. and much more.
We also have book tokens, bookmarks, book seats, mugs, soft toys, diaries, notebooks, and other book-related gifts. We are happy to order CDs and DVDs. We run Book Clubs, hold regular author events, offer student discounts and run a customer loyalty scheme.
The National Trust’s beautiful Carding Mill Valley is only a ten minute walk from Burway Books – you can buy a book, a local walking guide or a local map then spend a pleasant day rambling around the Stretton Hills. We will happily advise on walks, eateries, shops etc: we are proud to be part of this lovely town and do all we can to support it.
We are normally open Monday – Saturday: 9.15 am – 5.15 pm
2. We open the front door to your shop. What can we see as we cross the threshold?
First and foremost we hope that you’ll get a friendly smile and warm welcome from one of us behind the counter! There’s a small table just inside the door with a selection of new publications …. and, facing you, our comprehensive selection of ORDNANCE SURVEY maps, Michelin maps, travel guides, and road atlases.
3. What’s the most unusual request you’ve had in store? – if you can tell us.
A signed copy of the new edition of ‘A Shropshire Lad’ by A E Housman (Housman died in 1936) …… unless you count our most worrying request, for a book on how to make a gun!
4. Do you have anything that’s unique to your shop? What makes you stand out?
I’m not sure these are ‘unique’, but we have recently started running author events at our local library, which is constantly under threat of closure, in order to promote and support both of our businesses.
Our Book Clubs are also different to the norm: our monthly book group is based on a topic rather than having to read a named book. Recent topics include ‘sub-Saharan literature’, ‘fairy tales’ (we have a local expert on Hans Christian Andersen).
Our quarterly book club offers members a selection of new literature to read and discuss: choose from up to 6 titles (published within the last 12 months).
5. Do you have any tips on which books will be big this year?
‘Fire and Blood’ by George R R Martin, which comes out 20th November.
‘The Wood: the Life and Times of Cockshutt Wood’ by John Lewis-Stempel
‘Deeds not Words’ by Helen Pankhurst
6. If you could only recommend one book for the rest of your life which book would it be?
That’s a VERY difficult question, but just for fun …..
‘The Complete Works of Shakespeare’
7. Let us know how we can find you.
We do not have an online shop but we are happy to take orders by email or over the telephone and post books to you.
(I don’t receive any payment or have any vested interest in any sales that may result from this post. The sole intent of the feature is to highlight the many fabulous bookshops out there. Happy shopping!)