A Penguin Book Pilgrimage to the Ironbridge Bookshop

Vintage Penguin Books

We’ve wanted to visit The Ironbridge Bookshop for ages after hearing about the legendary Penguin book wall (see photo) and chatting with Meg the owner via her Instagram account so last weekend we finally made the trip to this picturesque Shropshire Town.

The bookshop is located opposite the famous Iron Bridge which crosses the River Severn. The bridge was covered for renovation when we visited but we didn’t mind as it gave us a good excuse to return! We were warmly welcomed by Meg, who has created the perfect space for bibliophiles. The downstairs room is packed with a staggering array of second-hand books – from classic to contemporary, plus lots of non-fiction including a stack of vintage Observer guides which I passed quickly knowing that I’d want to buy them all if I looked too closely!

secondhand classic books for sale in the ironbridge bookshop

I’ve been looking for a copy of Terry Pratchett’s Guards! Guards! for ages and luckily found a copy in the sizeable Pratchett section,  as well as pretty paperback edition of The Go-Between by LP Hartley.

To reach the second room you climb the best bookish stairs ever. I’m afraid I couldn’t get Little M out of posing mode but you get the general gist!Processed with VSCO with l4 presetThe upper room contains the vintage Penguin bookshelves, the children’s area and a small selection of modern collectables such as the Vintage Minis, Penguin Mugs and Journals.  Meg also sits upstairs so we had a chat while poring over all the amazing titles. If you love the older Penguin editions, as well as Ladybird books then you HAVE to come here – it is a collector’s feast.  While we were having a field day, we were concerned that Little M would get bored. No fear! She made herself right at home.

little girl sits in book corner

Meg’s prices are very affordable so we ended up buying more than expected and were  very, very happy with our book haul. We didn’t have anything particular in mind when we went, but if you would like something specific then Meg will try to source it for you.

vintage book haul ironbridge bookshop

There’s plenty more to do in Ironbridge if you are staying for more than a day. We didn’t have time to see everything on this visit, but will definitely be returning to the bookshop and the town when the bridge is unveiled.  For lunch we ate in the White Hart Pub which is only a few minutes from the bookshop and found the staff friendly, and the food tasty.

The Ironbridge Bookshop is open every day of the week 10am to 5pm.  You can also follow the store via Instagram,Twitter and Facebook. We highly recommend a trip – it is now one of our very favourite bookshops and we thank Meg for making our visit a great one.

Ironbridge Bookshop Exterior

 

 

 

Five Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Cull Your Books

2018-03-17 07.43.49 1.jpgIf you’re a long-time bibliophile, chances are that you have had to cull your book collection at least once.  We hit this point on a yearly basis – usually when we’ve reached the point where piles of books have begin to breed and take over the floor space, as well as countertops, drawers and chairs. For much of this time, we’re in denial – hoping that we can somehow re-arrange our bookshelves to stop the flood of printed pages, but eventually it becomes obvious that we’ll have to force ourselves to do that most dreaded of deeds and part with a few of our precious titles.  At first, it seems impossible, but on closer inspection, maybe there is a little scope for whittling down.  These are some of the questions that we ask ourselves and hopefully they’ll help you too:

Would I reread this book?

I think this is a pretty good indication of whether you should keep a book or not. If it’s an absolute no, don’t let it take up your shelf space.

Have I read this book at all?

The to-be-read (TBR) pile is a constant in our lives, but sometimes we have books that gather dust for years.  If you still haven’t got around to picking a title up, then give yourself a deadline of say – three months to finish it.  If it still doesn’t hit the mark, then maybe it’s time to pass it on.

Do I have multiple editions?

Guilty as charged! And I’ve only just realised this while writing this blog post. The answer is obvious – unless collecting editions is your thing.

Am I only holding onto this for sentimental reasons?

Ugh! Another one which gets me every time. I keep books because they’ve been written by people who I vaguely know, or because I’ve received them as a gift – even if they didn’t completely rock my world. I know I should be more ruthless but when heart enters the equation, it’s a much more difficult decision. Do you find the same?

Would someone else I know enjoy this more?

Gifting books is a pleasure and if you haven’t read The Gifts of Reading by Robert Macfarlane, go buy or borrow it now! You may be uncertain about a title but someone else may love it so why not give it to them? That way, the book gets a good home and you make someone’s day. Win-win!

Of course, the ideal is not to get rid of any books at all, which means more bookcases or wiser purchases – both of which I hope to cover in future posts.  If you have any other tips for streamlining your collection then please share in the comments.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Tour of Scrivener’s Books & Bookbinding

Processed with VSCO with l4 presetOne of the reasons we started our Instagram account was to shout out amazing independent bookshops.  When we go on our travels, we always try to visit a bookseller and buy a couple of titles so we’ll be posting about those trips on here, but before we get started, I’d like to give you a tour of one of our local bookshops, Scrivener’s Books & Bookbinding. Situated in the UK spa town of Buxton, it has five floors of full of second-hand books ranging across a huge variety of subjects from fiction through to conjuring to caving.  The shop also sells rare titles online via Abebooks.

When you first walk in, you’re greeted by shelves of first editions and a busy bookbinding workshop. I always get side-tracked by the collectible children’s books next to the counter.

There’s an immediate sense of discovery and anticipation which continues as you climb to the first floor past a small, yet well-curated stationery section to my favourite room which houses fiction, children’s books and a little tea station complete with comfy armchairs. Don’t forget to stroke the tiger!

Scrivener's Books - First Floor

If you can tear yourself away from the snug and take the stairs to the second floor, you’ll be rewarded with yet more treasures.  On the way, there’s a bookcase full of Folio Society editions, followed by a series of rooms containing sheet music, plays, poetry and sheet music, as well as a harmonium that you can play if you fancy having a go.

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All good adventures involve an attic.  This one’s no exception.  Filled with maps to everywhere, travel guides, boxes containing strange and wonderful tomes, it’s worth the ascent.  After a good browse, it’s back down to the bottom, most likely with a pile of tottering books!Processed with VSCO with l4 preset

But don’t leave before checking out the cellar. There’s a surprise waiting down there for you – a tiny Victorian museum with the original range cooker as well as more books, this time history, art and sport.

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You can easily spend a few hours in this wonderfully rambling bookshop, but Buxton has lots to do if you’re planning a full day or a weekend away.

Here are some other places of interest that we recommend:

 

 

 

 

 

5 Ways to Build a Book Collection on a Budget

When we first met, Al and I both decided that we wanted to create a library.  It’s taken decades to reach that point, but a few years ago, we finally achieved our aim of having a room that is entirely dedicated to books.

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I estimate that we have over 2000 titles now and we’re still collecting.  We like to mix our purchases up, regularly paying full price (someone has to fund the publishing industry and bookshops!) but very often finding bargains – particularly as I’m taking a short career break to retrain at the moment. If you’re prepared to put a bit of work and time in, then you should be able to find great books without shelling out.  Here’s our top tips:

Charity shops (or thrift stores)

I’m always surprised at the amount of premium titles available.  It’s possible to pick up newly-published works for a fraction of the cost if you can spare the time to forage.  Occasionally you might even discover a first edition, although these tend to be snapped up by the retailers themselves.

Second-hand booksellers

Not always the cheapest, but good for sourcing classics at a lower price and of course, essential for building a vintage collection. We try to support indie bookshops wherever we can.

Competitions and giveaways

The bigger publishers and booksellers such as Penguin and Waterstones run competitions constantly, but you’re likely to have more success with smaller giveaways on social media. The bookstagramming community is really generous so if you haven’t joined and you love books, then I would highly recommend it (be careful not to only enter giveaways though as this makes your account look spammy!).

Reviewing

This involves a bit more work, but it’s very rewarding. I reviewed books for a website few years ago and built up a good chunk of my YA section. Look out for openings on social media, follow a couple of bookbloggers or if you’re super confident about your writing skills, apply to magazines such as Kirkus. If you want to go down this route, it’s best to start your own blog or have some samples at the ready so that you can share your work.

Gifts

For those mega-expensive treats, why not compile a gift list for family and friends? We collect Folio Society editions but tend to save these buys for birthdays and Christmas. Patience required but it’s worth the wait!

Do you have any tips that you can share in the comments below?