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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Independent bookshops, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1. OUP staff discuss their favorite independent bookstores

In support of Indies First, a campaign run by the American Booksellers Association that supports independent bookstores, we asked OUP-USA staff what their favorite independent bookstores were. We received quite an enthusiastic response, and discovered that our staff visits and revisits indies all over the country thanks to the love that these bookstores inspire. Here’s what they had to say about their personal favorites:

“My favorite thing about walking into town is grabbing a cup of coffee and stopping into Watchung Booksellers (Montclair, NJ). The store has a great collection of local authors, a nice selection of literature, and a fun and interactive children’s room. The staff is friendly and they are super creative in their events and workshops. It is a true neighborhood treasure.”
Colleen Scollans, Global Marketing Director

* * *

“Unnameable Books – This is my local store in Prospect Heights on Vanderbilt Ave. I considered it a good omen that the store opened a few months before I moved to the neighborhood in 2009. Unnameable has a great selection of new and used books, and I still remember finding a copy of Anais Nin’s diary that I wanted to give a gift (published last year by Swallow Press, an imprint of Ohio University Press) and by some miracle they had a copy on the shelf. They also had a great event a few summers back in the backyard, where they screened Godard’s A Married Woman, with New Yorker writer Richard Brody.”
— Jeremy Wang-Iverson, Publicity Manager

Seminary Coop_Alana Podolsky
Seminary Co-op Bookstore, courtesy of Alana Podolsky. Used with permission.

* * *

“There are few things better than stepping off a Chicago street, unraveling the many layers of clothing required for -10°F weather and stepping into the warmth of the Seminary Co-Op. It’s easy to start gushing about the Sem Co-Op’s maze of books, where you can hide in a corner for hours reading store’s eclectic, charming and comprehensive collection.”
— Alana Podolsky, Assistant Marketing Manager for History, Academic and Trade Marketing

* * *

“I’ve been in the book business for over 30 years, starting as a part-time bookseller at Atticus Books in Richmond, VA to my current job working with indie stores nationwide. Throughout this time, I’ve had the pleasure of visiting some of the largest independent stores to the smallest specialty stores across the country, each with its own charm and treasures. Indie bookstores offer a chance to discover new authors, a connection to the local community, and a wonderful antidote to the “sameness” that pervades much shopping today.”
Richard Fugini, Field Sales Manager

* * *

“One of my favorite places in the world is Von’s Books in West Lafayette, Indiana, near the campus of Purdue University. It is jammed with great books – so many that they overflow onto stacks on the floor between shelves – and there is reliably a familiar face from my undergraduate days behind the front desk when I go back for visits. (Von’s is also very conveniently located down the block from Harry’s Chocolate Shop, another Purdue institution.)”
Kandice Rawlings, Associate Editor, Reference

* * *

“While visiting Seattle media in the winter/spring of 2014 my sales rep for the great northwest, George Carroll, took me around to some of his account (indie stores) in town. My favorite store was Ada’s Technical Books on 15th Ave. East in Seattle. It was a small intimate store with interesting lab equipment and technical gadgets displayed throughout the space. I remember walls lined with books about science, engineering, mathematics and technology, of course. And a few tables made out of shadowboxes in a café space, and a small backroom for events. The store has reclaimed and repurposed a lot of its decor from whatever had been in the space before it became a bookstore. Most memorable, however, was the congeniality of the staff. George and I had arrived just after they had closed, but they opened their door to me so I could browse the space for possible future events for OUP authors coming through Seattle. They never rushed me or complained, instead they halted their closing ritual and chatted amiably with me about books, publishing, bookselling, and the vibe they were trying to create at Ada’s and the neighborhood that surrounded them. The whole experience was rare and extraordinary. They will have a lifetime fan in me for their graciousness.”
Purdy, Director of Publicity

Greenlight Bookstore, Brooklyn. Courtesy of Margaret Williams. Used with permission.
Greenlight Bookstore, Brooklyn. Courtesy of Margaret Williams. Used with permission.

* * *

“The community has really taken to Greenlight Bookstore in Fort Greene, as they offer a great selection of books and they have held numerous readings and book signings of local Brooklyn authors/artists. I’ve purchased a few books on reggae and cookbooks. The staff there is super friendly and they have a well-curated inventory of books on lots of subjects. It’s been great for the neighborhood.”
Alan Goldberg, Demand Planner, GAB Operations

* * *

Litchfield Books in Pawley’s Island, SC, has been a magical place for my family and me ever since we started vacationing on the SC coast 20 years ago. I don’t think any of us have ever left there without a half-dozen titles! Everyone who works there is so knowledgeable and kind, and you feel their love for books just as soon as you walk in the door. I can’t recommend it enough, especially if you are ever at a completely loss for a new book—they are bound to point you in the right direction!”
Sarah Pirovitz, Associate Editor, Classics, Ancient Art, and Archaeology

* * *

“My favorite indie bookstore is Quail Ridge Books located in Raleigh, North Carolina. I started visiting Quail Ridge as an undergraduate at North Carolina State University located just down the street. I love this store mostly for their selection (I especially love their section on regional books) and also for their helpful and courteous staff. There is truly something to be said about Southern hospitality…it is definitely present at Quail Ridge.”
Victoria Ohegyi , Sales Assistant

* * *

“Cobble Hill’s Book Court has been my dealer ever since I moved to Brooklyn seven years ago. They have a great selection, amazing author events, and if they don’t have it on the shelf, they’re happy to order it. As a new parent, I get to share their kids section with my one–year old, who already loves books and story time. We love to wander among the shelves and find new books to read. The neighborhood has gone through tremendous changes since Book Court first opened and it’s great to see that this indie book store is a true foundation of and for the community.”
Burke Gerstenschlager, Acquisitions Editor

Readings, Carlton by Snipergirl. CC BY 2.0 via Flickr.
Readings, Carlton by Snipergirl. CC BY 2.0 via Flickr.

* * *

Readings in Carlton, Melbourne, Australia is my favorite independent bookstore. I discovered it while studying abroad at the University of Melbourne when I was in college. The staff is so helpful and the store’s location on Lygon Street is perfect for grabbing a cup of coffee and spending an afternoon browsing through their great selection of books and cards.
— Ciara O’Connor, Marketing Assistant

* * *

“My favorite bookstore is and will always be Rakestraw Books, in the heart of my hometown in Danville, CA. They’ve been around since 1973 and have hosted events with a diverse and often eclectic range of authors over the years, making the store a favorite destination for both me and my mom. I still remember roaming the stacks as a kid, painfully deliberating between dozens of books before finally selecting on ‘just one’ book to bring to the check out. Even just thinking about Rakestraw Books still brings a nostalgic smile to my face.

“I also have a huge soft spot for Bookworks, a literary wonderland in my parents’ hometown of Albuquerque, NM. One of my most treasured Christmas gifts was a beautifully illustrated copy of the first Harry Potter book in Italian, Harry Potter e la Pietra Filosofale, which I received from my grandpa the year after I started learning Italian in college. Apparently, my grandpa and the Bookwords owners had teamed up to locate a copy and ship it over all the way from Italy — now THAT’s a dedicated staff!”
— Carrie Napolitano, Marketing Associate for Linguistics, Religion & Bibles

* * *

“One bookstore that really caught my eye is WORD Bookstore in Jersey City. It’s really a lovely place to go because there’s a coffee bar in the back, and they regularly host book group meetings, music shows, and a bunch of other types of events in addition to the typical author appearance and book signings. They also stock a lot of neat stationery, which (unfortunately for my wallet) happens to be one of my weaknesses…”
Connie Ngo, Marketing Assistant

* * *

Heading image: A cubbyhole with education/sociology books, Seminary Co-op Bookstore, Chicago, IL, by Connie Ma. CC BY-SA 2.0 via Flickr.

The post OUP staff discuss their favorite independent bookstores appeared first on OUPblog.

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2. Books For Bags: Celebrating Local Bookshops! by Emma Barnes


Recently on ABBA I posted about Book Festivals  - and how they are going from strength to strength.  It's not been so easy for bookshops.  Discounting in supermarkets, the decline of the high street, and the growth of online retailing have all made it much, much harder for bookshops to compete.




Last month, a national celebration of bookshops - Books Are My Bag - brought authors and bookshops together to try and do something about this.  Across the country, there were all kinds of festivities to help make the public more aware of the importance of local bookshops.

Here in Leeds, my fellow children's author Alison Brown (the author/illustrator of picture books Mighty Mo and Eddie and Dog) had the idea we should be part of this, and so on Saturday 11 November I was chuffed to be part of <i>Books for Bags</i> at Radish, the fantastic bookshop close to us in the high street in Chapel Allerton.

Me, Alison and Lisa at Radish

Radish is a great shop and the atmosphere, the selection of books, and the recommendations by knowledgeable staff provide something you cannot find online.


Bookshops are vital - part of the infrastructure of a reading culture.  Bookshop staff read the books they sell, can make recommendations, and know the kind of things their customers enjoy.

Many books have taken off not because of a mass marketing campaign by publishers, but because of grassroots recommendations and a slow spreading of word of mouth...often originating with the independent bookshops. 

We need to support them.  It really is a matter of Use Them - or Lose Them.

I just wish I'd had more time to browse the fantastic children's selection on the day.  Never mind.  The joy of local bookshop is you can pop in any time.



---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Emma's new series for 8+, Wild Thing, is about the naughtiest little sister ever.  Out now from Scholastic. 
"Hilarious and heart-warming" The Scotsman

 Wolfie is published by Strident.   Sometimes a Girl’s Best Friend is…a Wolf. 
"A real cracker of a book" Armadillo 
"Funny, clever and satisfying...thoroughly recommended" Books for Keeps


Emma's Website
Emma’s Facebook Fanpage
Emma on Twitter - @EmmaBarnesWrite

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3. Olympic Bookshop Hop - Day 27 - Edinburgh to Alnwick

Day 27 and we caught up with Anne Harkness of the Forest Bookshop in Selkirk. Anne saw the torch from the bookshop door, which has a great vantage point for the market place. 

Schoolchildren in nearby Innerleithen wait for the torch
The torch coincided with Selkirk Common Riding, an annual event in the Borders in which locals ride around the town’s borders to celebrate past heroes who risked their lives to protect their towns. It’s the biggest horse riding event in Europe – bigger even than the Paleo in Sienna,’ said Anne. ‘It was great to celebrate a local event alongside a national, and indeed an international, one,’ she added. 

Here it comes...
Anne pointed out that the Selkirk Common Riding also remembers how, after the Battle of Flodden (in which ‘unfortunately the Scots army was defeated’), tradition has it that only one man from the town returned, bearing a captured English flag. ‘Flags are therefore an important part of the Common Riding festivities,’ said Anne and this fitted in well with the torch’s arrival. ‘The fact that the town was already excited and waving flags added to the atmosphere.’

Anne was a little disappointed that she didn’t see former Scottish athlete and Olympic 100m medal winner Allan Wells running with the torch. ‘We were expecting the torch changeover to take place in the marketplace, but it didn’t and Allan must have taken over running with the torch elsewhere along the route.’

All the same, Anne, was ‘very pleased’ to have been there and seen it.

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4. Olympic Bookshop Hop, Day 45 - Leicester to Peterborough

Day 45 and the torch arrived at 4.30pm in Market Harborough – Beverley Wilkins, manager of Quinns Bookshop, didn’t rush to shut up the shop early and see the torch: ‘It was raining on the parade, I was already cold and I didn’t want to stand around getting wet.’

According to Beverley the event hadn’t been ‘overly publicised’, and she hasn’t had much feedback about it from customers. But despite this and the rain, a lot of people turned up and the other staff in the shop reported that the atmosphere was really exciting and that everyone enjoyed themselves.

The assistant to manager Debbie James at The Bookshop in Kibworth also didn’t fancy standing around in the rain and preferred to stay inside the cosy shop, which meant that Debbie was able to pop out and see the torch.

‘It was a really great turnout. The village population lined the A6 – the main road from Market Harborough to Kibworth and Leicester – and judging by the number of cars parked, a lot of people must have travelled in from the nearby villages.

The torch travels through Kibworth [Photo: Harborough Mail]
‘First the sponsors vans arrived with music blaring and various girls dancing on top. Then at 5.03pm, a girl appeared running with the torch. I thought she’d run all the way from Market Harborough and was so impressed that I cheered her on madly, but then my boyfriend told me that he’d seen her jump out of a van half a mile down the road!’

Although Debbie thought that the shop would be quiet while the torch was in town, she had experienced a really busy week. ‘It was Independent Booksellers Week and the Booksellers Association and Indie Bound had done a great job of promoting it. On Saturday it was like Christmas Eve in the shop. We had also done a bit of marketing through social networking.’

Sue Davies, The Reading Shop, Oadby didn’t see the torch come through Oadby as she was at Abbey Park in Leicester, where her son, a swimmer for the city, was taking part in the Olympic torch parade.

Sue Davies with her family - (Note: other soft drinks are available!) 
Abbey Park was the scene of the torch’s evening festivities. ‘There were shows of singing and dancing. The cauldron was lit and the flame rested overnight, before leaving the National Space Centre and being taken by Gary Lineker on towards the next town,’ says Sue.

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5. Olympic Bookshop Hop - Day 48 - Norwich to Ipswich

‘It was nice, but it was all quite brief,’ said Mary James, owner of The Aldeburgh Bookshop [another personal favourite of mine - H] as the torch travelled along the Suffolk coast on Day 48. Mary thought that it ‘all went well’, although she pointed out the rain had put some people off. ‘Three thousand people were expected to turn up for the torch, but I don’t think there were that many there.’


The Aldeburgh Bookshop had entered into the spirit of the relay: ‘We had Olympics-themed books in the window, and when the torch passed we closed the shop door and all stood outside clapping.

Union Jacks on the Crag Path in Aldeburgh [Photo: http://www.eadt.co.uk]

‘One of the torchbearers was a young girl with cancer who is normally in a wheelchair. I heard that she had stood up and walked for her bit. This happened after it has passed the shop so I didn’t see it, but I heard that everyone was very moved.’

The torch travels through Aldeburgh [Photo: http://www.eadt.co.uk]
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6. The Darkest Day, by Rosalie Warren

I have always loved the winter solstice. There is that sense of being at the bottom of the curve - the sine curve representing the rate of change of day length. This day (and its summer partner) are the times at which the curve flattens, when the rate of change is at it slowest. When nature stops, or so it feels at this end of the year, and gives us time to contemplate.

This Friday 21st December is a special day, too, on the Mayan calendar. I've just been reading about the Mayans and it seems they knew a fair bit about mathematics and made astronomical observations that were way ahead of their time. Not that we have any need to fear. Scientists assure us that there is no truth in the idea that some unusual planetary alignment or asteroid collision will bring the world to an end today - though I can't say I'm enormously relieved to hear this. Humankind is still more than capable of bringing civilisation to an end - and we have already caused the extinction of many species, with more, no doubt, to follow.

 We are also, in some sad cases, willing to bring an end to innocent young human lives. I heard children singing Away in a Manger at a carol service in Peasholm Park, Scarborough, last weekend, and could not hold back my tears, thinking of those poor murdered children and their families in Connecticut.

It's been, for some, a dark, dark year. Many families, even in the relatively prosperous UK, are feeling the pain of increased energy, food and petrol bills, with large numbers out of work or earning barely enough to get by. In many countries, the situation is far worse. It's difficult to feel the hope in the Christmas message of goodwill to all people. It's difficult to go on believing, sometimes, in anything good at all.

Yet new buds are already forming on the trees. Nature struggles on, in spite of pollution, disease and climate change. People struggle on, because they have to. They do it for the sake of their children, their spouses, their parents and their friends. 

Life has not been easy for many writers this year. I'm one of those who has had disappointing news from a publisher. I know that, on the overall scale of things, this is small beer. But it hurts, and I know many fellow writers who are hurting, too. School visits and other events have been severely cut back, because of lack of funding, and those writers who depend on these things to supplement their income are feeling the pinch. Advances have, by all accounts, almost disappeared for the bulk of writers. E-books are doing well in general and some authors are making a fortune, but many have failed to find the sales they hoped for.

It's difficult for readers, too. Libraries have closed or are threatened with closure. The big publishers seem mainly interested in blockbusters and celebrity memoirs and recipes. The supermarkets rule the sales and, where they go, the booksellers must follow. Lots of small, interesting, independent bookshops can no longer afford to carry on.

Meanwhile, small children like two-year-old Jacob, my partner's grandson, adore books. So does his one-year-old sister, Ava. They know nothing of the troubles in the world of writing, but they know what they like. There are wonderful new children's books, everywhere I look. And there are children's authors, slaving away, inspired, inspiring and inspirational - creating words (and objects) of wonder for the new generation to learn to love.

And while all that is happening, I have hope.

Please, fellow children's authors, don't stop. Jacob, Ava and all the others can't wait to get their chubby, sticky little hands on your latest work. Remember that... as you read the latest disappointing or infuriating email from your agent or publisher.

 Times are hard but our children need you, more than ever. They need voices of sanity, sense and sensibility in this crazy world. Whatever happens in the cold out there, please go on creating your warm, sunlit little places where life truly begins. Don't, whatever you do, even think of stopping. The world, which will almost certainly still be here on the 22nd December and for a while beyond that, needs you, your vision, your pictures and your words.


Happy writing, and may the sun shine on your efforts as, according to the Mayans, the new age begins.

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7. Olympic Bookshop Hop, Day 17 - Carrick-a-Rede to Londonderry

70 days
8,000 runners
8,000 miles
800 bookshops

Day 17 saw the torch cross over the Carrick-a-Rede ropebridge (careful with that torch!), onto the Giant's Causeway (a Unesco World Heritage Site) which is made up of 40, 000 hexagonal basalt columns which protrude from the sea.


It then continued on its route along the north coast of Northern Ireland before being taken onto an eight-man coxed boat on the River Bann and passing under the Old Bridge in Coleraine before being transferred back to dry land.

Kathy Thompson, manager at Eason and Sons in Coleraine, told us that, ‘The torch didn’t pass in front of our shop – it would have been good if it had. It came to the other side of town, on the other side of the bridge. There were plenty of people in town to see it. The local radio station was out there and there was lots of music and celebration.’

From Coleraine, the torch headed for Londonderry.

Nat Roche, manager of the ShipQuay Bookshop in Londonderry told us that ‘The torch coming was a major event for us. Being in Northern Ireland, we’re slightly divorced from the Olympics, so when the torch arrived here, it made people here more aware of the Games and more a part of the event.


‘There was a big turn out in Londonderry and everyone was in support of it.  Our shop had closed before the torch arrived and we waited around for half an hour in the hope of seeing it, but it had been held up on route.’

Luckily, Nat was able to catch up with the torch in the evening, when he attended the torch celebrations at St Columbus Park. ‘There was a big concert in the park. It was a very good event and the weather held out for us.’ 


Despite being modest about his sporting credentials, Art Byrne, owner of Foyle Bookshop in Londonderry was equally enthusiastic about the event: ‘I wasn’t there. I’m not very athletic and not interested in the Olympics, but a big crowd turned out for it and in general it was a success.

‘The torch event united the community in Londonderry, which is not a very united city. There was a small protest by the dissident republicans, which was blown up out of proportion by the media so that the success of the event took second place. But it was a success, it was a good day and a sunny day and the crowds enjoyed it.’


Missing something? If you work in a bookshop on or near the route and we've missed you out from our blog, please contact us with your news and views of the relay (including any photographs) as we'd love to add you to our blog.  

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8. Olympic Bookshop Hop, Day 16 - Belfast to Portrush


70 days
8,000 runners
8,000 miles
800 bookshops

On Day 16 of the Olympic Torch Relay, the flame started its journey from the birth place of the Titanic in Belfast.  The torch was set to travel 126 miles between Belfast and Portrush visiting Stormont, home of the Northern Ireland Assembly, and Carrickfergus Castle on the way.

David Torrans, No Alibis, Belfast – one of only a few independent bookshop still remaining in Northern Ireland described the early start from Belfast, ‘It rained. It rained an awful lot. And, to be honest, the Olympic spirit was not present in the shop too much. It’s so busy that I haven’t had the opportunity to follow the flame.’ [We will hear more from David on Day 19 when the torch returns to Belfast.]

Rugby Union's Trevor Ringland was amongst the torch bearers in Larne. The former Ireland winger was chosen for the Lions tour of New Zealand in 1983 and played in the first rugby World Cup four years later.

Army medic Kylie Watson from Ballymena, carried the torch in Portrush, she's one of only four women who have won the Military Cross for twice risking her life under heavy fire to treat two soldiers in Afghanistan.

The route followed the dramatic County Antrim coastline before visiting the golf course of Portrush, home of golfers Darren Clarke and Graeme McDowell, and the evening celebration on the beach.

Missing something? If you work in a bookshop on or near the route and we've missed you out from our blog, please contact us with your news and views of the relay (including any photographs) as we'd love to add you to our blog.  

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9. Olympic Bookshop Hop, Day 18 - Londonderry to Newry


70 days
8,000 runners
8,000 miles
800 bookshops
Day 18 of the Olympic Torch Relay passed through Omagh, visited Enniskillen Castle and travelled into the Marble Arch Caves on the journey from Londonderry to Newry.

Alison McDermott, manager of the Carlisle Bookshop, Omagh,  had considered closing the bookshop on the day the Olympic torch came to the town as it coincided with the Diamond Jubilee celebrations, which she thought might keep people at home. In the end she decided to stay open as normal and the crowds gathered in numbers that were ‘very big by Omagh’s standards’.


‘The torch arrived at 10am, but the crowds had been gathering outside the shop since 9am. There were street entertainers organised by the Council, and the children were being given freebies – balloons and flags etc. Many were wearing themed t-shirts, but I’ve no idea where they came from. I was standing outside the shop and some members of the staff were upstairs where they had a good vantage point. We saw the torch go by carried by a young boy. For the first leg of its travels through the town, it had been carried by a 93-year-old man – we had all age groups covered.’


Alison managed to see the torch twice, as she had been in Portrush on Sunday, where it appeared before crowds of thousands. 


The whole weekend was a combined Olympics and Jubilee celebration, with the beacons being lit on Monday night, but on Tuesday, the Olympics took precedence. ‘In Omagh, while the torch was in town, the focus was on the torch,’ said Alison. 


‘It was a good event and everyone enjoyed all the razzmatazz, but I’m not sure that it benefited the town from a business point of view,’ adds Alison. ‘Once the torch had gone, the showers came and the crowds dispersed.’


Alison has not ruled out seeing the torch again: ‘A Swedish friend of mine had her parents in-law over for the weekend, and they remembered seeing the torch when it passed through their village in 1956.’

From Omagh, the torch went on to visit the Marble Arch Caves which are situated just outside Enniskillen, County Fermanagh. The flame was carried by members of the relay security team into the caves, which are described as a 'fascinating, natural underworld of rivers, waterfalls, winding passages and lofty chambers and form the only UNESCO Geopark in Northern Ireland.

The final torchbearer of the day was 17-year-old Ryan Cinnamond who was greeted by Sebastian Coe in Newry and watched on as Ryan lit the cauldon to mark the end of the stage of the relay and the start of the evening celebrations.

Missing something? If you work in a bookshop on or near the route and we've miss

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10. Olympic Bookshop Hop, Day 20 - Newcastle to Stanraer


70 days
8,000 runners
8,000 miles
800 bookshops
Day 20 of the torch was the last day of the Olympic Torch Relay on Irish soil. The torch was carried by 67 torchbearers on its 187 mile journey, from the foot of the Slieve Donard Mountain near Newcastle to Moorfields and then by ferry from Larne Harbour to Stanraer where the relay starts its journey around Scotland.


Ian Campbell, manager of Beulah Bookshop in Newcastle, Northern Ireland told us that the torch went past Newcastle at eight minutes to seven in the morning and Ian, who lives 12 miles away, wasn’t there to see it.

‘I didn’t expect people to be spending money at that time in the morning. They’re more likely to be thinking of a cup of coffee than getting their credit cards out.

Ian said he didn’t have a tremendous interest in the torch, but had heard that ‘there was very large crowd there to witness the event.’

Ian teaches part time in a local school and he said that a couple of the pupils went with their families to join the crowds. ‘For kids to get up at 5am to see the torch shows the enthusiasm young people have for it,’ he said. ‘One of the girls got to hold the torch so she was excited to have been there even though she’d been freezing all day.’

Despite the cold and rain, Ian felt that the torch helped to get everyone in the holiday spirit. ‘It brought thoughts of sunny days ahead, and the whole thing was has made more special because there was a sense that it would never happen again in our lifetimes.’

Athough Ian missed the torch at Newcastle, he had been caught up in on Sunday at Carigfergus. ‘I was in one of the cars dawdling along at 5 miles per hour. I didn’t see the torch which was ahead of me.'

An hour later the torch arrived at Downpatrick, and travelled past Eason and Sons in Market Street on its way to Meadowlands.

Lorraine Coates, manager at Eason and Sons, told us how the bookshop had opened at 7am to accommodate those who wanted to buy magazines etc. ‘It was a wet old morning and so people were glad of somewhere to shelter,’ said Lorraine.

The rain didn’t deter the crowds, though, and Lorraine described the turn out as ‘excellent.’


Later in the day, the flame (carried by torchbearer Eorann O'Neill) travelled by boat across Lough Neagh from Antrim Harbour to Ballyronan Harbour and was accompanied by a flotilla of boats.  Having crossed Lough Neagh, the largest freshwater lake in the British Isles, the torch then continued on land to Moorfields.

The final convey from Moorfields to Larne Harbour marked the end of 5 days of the relay in Northern Ireland and Dublin.

Missing something? If you work in a bookshop on or near the route and we've missed you out from our blog, please contact us with your news and views of the relay (including any photographs) as we'd love to add you to our blog.  

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11. Olympic Bookshop Hop, Day 19 - Dublin to Belfast

70 days
8,000 runners
8,000 miles
800 bookshops
Day 19 of the torch relay saw the flame travel cross the Irish border at Newry before being taken around Dublin and returning to Belfast via Newry (again) and Lisburn.

The day started early with Belfast boxer Wayne McCullough (silver medal winner at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics) handing the torch to his fellow boxer and friend Michael Carruth from Dublin (he'd won welterweight gold the same year).

Once in Dublin, the torch was carried through Croke Park by the Kilkenny hurler Henry Shefflin. Other sportsman carrying the torch in Dublin were Ronnie Delany, who won the 1500m gold for Ireland in the 1956 Games in Melbourne, former Ireland international footballer Paul McGrath, jockey Ruby Walsh and former Olympic silver medallist Sonia O'Sullivan.

Bob Johnston, owner of The Gutter Bookshop didn’t expect to see the torch, but caught a glimpse of it on his way to work – an experience which he said ‘made my day’.

‘The Olympic torch arrived at 9am. It was met by our president Michael Higgins and then travelled into the town centre at Phoenix Park before going on to Stephen’s Green, where a big party was being held in its honour. Our little bookshop was on route, but I wasn’t expecting to see it as I thought I’d be beavering away inside.

‘As it happened, I came in late that morning as we’d been involved in a writing festival in Dublin and as I passed Temple Bar, I caught sight of all the crowds and of the flame as it disappeared toward Stephens Green, carried by Jedward, who seem to appear at all such occasions.’

The twin brothers with Olympic flame-effect hair cuts were cheered on by thousands of adoring fans as the torch passed through the city.

The Winding Stair, another Dublin bookshop joined in with the fun and we'll be adding more information from the shop soon.  However, a couple of other independent bookshops we spoke to in Dublin didn't feel the event had the X-factor. They told us that they were completely uninterested in the it, complaining that it disrupted traffic and made staff late for work.

After 5 days travelling around Ireland, the Olympic torch returned to Belfast where David Torrans, owner of No Alibis, Belfast (who had already filled us in on events when the flame first arrived in Northern Ireland), told us that one member of his staff, who has signed up as a volunteer helper at the Games, had definitely entered into the spirit of the Olympics: ‘I asked her to come into the shop at 5pm this evening to help out and she flatly refused. She said that she had to be in town to see the flame being lit at 6pm!’

'She still has a job though' joked David.

Missing something? If you work in a bookshop on or near the route and we've missed you out from our blog, please contact us with your news and views of the relay (including any photographs) as we'd love to add you to our blog.  

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12. Olympic bookshop hop - Days 21 & 22 - Moorfields to Glasgow to Inverness


We're catching up in Scotland where the torch travelled miles and miles over land and lochs and sea. We began by chatting with Caron McPherson, manager of Waterstones in Ayr. She confessed to being freakishly excited about the torch, which passed the shop at 10.10am.


I had no idea what to expect, but there was a brilliant atmosphere. As I travelled into work from Paisley, there was a good crowd all the way along the route and in the town itself. The torch had stopped briefly on its way to visit the Robert Burns Museum, where lots of people had dressed up as Robert Burns’ Tam O’ Shanter [the eponymous hero of his famous poem].’

The famous portrait of Robert Burns by Alexander Nasmyth
Seventeen-year old Kirsty Kane, from Saltcoats, carried the Flame to the museum, handing it on to Olympian Suzanne Otterson, 38, from Ayr, who represented Great Britain in the figure skating at the Albertville Winter Olympics in 1992.

‘It was fabulous,’ said Caron. ‘Before the arrival of the torch, the sponsors had handed out drums and balloons to the children. There was a great family-orientated spirit. Then the young torch bearer ran past – and I mean he really ran. He shot past really quickly.’

Caron had decked out her window with ‘Great British Books’ in readiness for the Jubilee and Olympics celebrations. There were Olympics titles throughout the store and there had been a countdown to the torch on the store’s Facebook page.

Abbey Books in Paisley (close to Lochwinnoch, where the torch passed), commented that, ‘We were holding our annual re-enactment of the 1690 witch trials, a historical event particular to Paisley, and there were lots of jokes being bandied about that if the torch bearer lost his way, he could light the pyre to burn the witches.’

Edmund McGonigle, manager of Voltaire and Rousseau, a second-hand bookshop in Glasgow, couldn't get away from the shop to see the torch but he heard the crowds. ‘My brother, who owns the shop couldn’t drive home that afternoon because of the crowds but another friend who pops in to feed the shop cat [Trevor] said that he managed to film the flame.'

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13. Olympic Bookshop Hop, Day 24 - Stornoway to Aberdeen



70 days
8,000 runners
8,000 miles
800 bookshops



Today, the torch travels more than 400 miles as it makes its way from the Isle of Lewis in Scotland's Western Isles to Aberdeen. The torch started the day with a brisk ride on a quad bike and a few laps of the athletics track at Lewis Sports Centre before being flown to Inverness.  It wasn't until late afternoon that the torch arrived in Banchory, Aberdeenshire.


Vicky Dawson, manager of Yeadons of Banchory, said she was ‘absolutely astonished’ at the reception the torch received in the town.

The torch arrives in Banchory
‘It was a Scottish local holiday and the town had been quiet all day with hardly a soul on the street and then at 4pm all hell broke loose. It was perishing, but the village was filled with people like you’ve never seen before – more folk than turn up even for the big country fairs. Mackies, a local ice-cream manufacturer, had sent a coach load of its staff down for the event. 

Vicky was astonished by the enthusiasm for the torch and the patriotism it provoked. ‘It came as a complete revelation to me. We don’t usually show the Union Jack here, but it was being waved, and all the kids had hand-made golden torches that they’d made at school. The night that the Jubilee beacon was lit on the hill behind Banchory you could hear the national anthem for miles around. Things like this don’t happen in Scotland.’

And this patriotism has translated into books sales. ‘In Scotland, books about Great Britain and London are not generally what customers want, but here in Banchory both Jubilee and Olympics titles are selling well.’



Craig Willocks, manager of Books and Beans, Aberdeen, didn’t see or here anything of the torch as it arrived in the evening after the shop had closed and it had headed off from the BP headquarters before he opened again the following morning. He did witness the city’s enthusiasm, though:

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14. Olympic Bookshop Hop, Day 26 - St Andrews to Edinburgh


70 days
8,000 runners
8,000 miles
800 bookshops

Today, day 26 of the Olympic torch relay, the flame travelled 145 miles from St Andrews to Edinburgh and visits Stirling Castle, the Wallace Monument and Edinburgh Castle on the way.


Early in the morning, the torch was carried along West Beach in St Andrews by a group of children to re-enact the famous scene in Chariots of Fire where the British Olympic team (decked all in white) ran along the sand at Broadstairs in Kent.  The scene for the 1981 Oscar winning film was actually filmed on West Beach and the athletes portrayed in the film were training for the 1924 Olympics (although none of them were carrying an Olympic torch as part of their training regime).

After its cameo on the coast, the torch continued on its route through Dunblane and Cumbernauld before it was transferred to a boat when it reached the Falkirk Wheel - which was opened by the Queen 10 years ago as part her Golden Jubilee celebrations.



It then was carried over the Forth Road bridge on a bike by record holding long-distance cyclist Mark Beaumont.  

Iain Morrison, enterprise manager at The Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh described how the torch arrived in the city at about 5pm and rested there overnight. Edinburgh Castle was the focal point for the celebrations, which is straight up the hill from The Fruitmarket Gallery. Iain Morrison, enterprise manager at the Gallery, headed up there after it had closed, hoping to catch sight of the flame:
‘There were lots of rumours among the crowd as to which direction the torch would take and people were running this way and that after it as though on some huge treasure hunt. I was fortunate and I caught up with it outside the Old Bank of Scotland, where the changeover took place.’


The town was ‘jam-packed’ with tourists and locals all jostling to see the torch, said Iain. ‘You couldn’t cross the Royal Mile and had to take a two-mile detour – it was just a solid wall of people. I’ve never seen Edinburgh like that. Even during the Festival, when the city is full, people are walking in different directions to different events. Here everyone was walking in one direction – towards the torch.’

Missing something? If you work in a bookshop on or near the route and we've missed you out from our blog, please contact us wit

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15. Olympic Torch Bookshop Hop, Day Three - Exeter to Taunton

Day 3 turned out to be even more eventful than anticipated when the flame went out in Great Torrington (I bet that would happen to me if I was carrying it!).

Thankfully, it was quickly relit from the 'mother' flame, which is carried in a modern version of the miner's Davy Lamp as a back-up. The flame has gone out on several occasions on previous relays (I dread to think how it would have fared in all the recent rain we've been having!).

Day 3 saw 113 torchbearers covering 135 miles, including my mother's home town of Barnstaple. I spent many a childhood holiday there so was delighted to speak with Rachel Bagshaw, lead bookseller at the local Waterstone's in Barnstaple, who said they were 'surprised and delighted' to find out that the Torch would be passing through the small market town.

'It came from Bideford, down Sticklepath Hill and into the town, where it passed very close to the shop. There was a huge crowd gathered along the High Street (I had to squeeze in to catch a glimpse) and an even bigger crowd in the town square and along the Strand.

Barnstaple crowds counting down til the Torch arrives... (www.barnstaplepeople.co.uk)
'All the local schools were there in an allocated space - many of them had closed. There was lots of cheering and nearly everyone had a flag - there were more flags out than for the royal wedding last year, and lots of bunting everywhere. It was a great event to be a part of.'

Stalls and flags in Taunton
Paul Hewitt, owner of the Ilfracombe Bookshop, said he 'barely saw the Torch - it was here and it was gone. But the town was very lively with lots of spectators gathered in the High Street and a parade with unicyclists, men on stilts and quad bikes, all drumming up enthusiasm before the Torch arrived.

'Most of the shops, inlcuding ours, closed for the actual passing of the Torch. It would have been nice if it could have stopped for a while, or if it could have passed through the town at the weekend so we could have made more of an event of it.'


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16. Olympic Bookshop, Day Four - Taunton to Bristol


Day Four and the sun was there to accompany the Torch as it travelled through Taunton, Ilminster, Yeovil, Ilchester, Somerton, and Street to Glastonbury. We spoke with Alex Pritchard, sales assistant at Gothic Image – a shop that not only sells 'wyrd and wonderful' books, but also takes bookings for Magical Mystical Tours of the town famous as a centre for pilgrims of all faiths.
Alex notes that Glastonbury, as a pilgrimage town, 'is very hospitable towards travellers, and it certainly proved hospitable to its latest pilgrim, the Olympic Torch bearer, as he passed by on his way to Bath. Even the town hall had its topiary cut in the shape of the torch.


As befits a town renowned for its site on a major crossing of leylines, Alex said that the energy on the day was ‘electric. The torch didn’t just pass by our shop. It stopped there, which was great. We were standing on the shop steps and had a good view of everything. All the other shop keepers were out on the street too. We put out a bubble machine, which all the children loved. They’d all been let out of school, and many were carrying golden torches that they’d made themselves. 
‘Glastonbury’s main street is very narrow, and there were huge crowds – it’s the busiest I’ve seen in the 12 years that I’ve lived here.

'A rotten day for trading,’ was John Birkett Smith's wry observation as owner of the Hunting Raven Bookshop (which has a particularly good children's section) in Frome. However, he noted that ‘It was a good fun day for the town', after popping out to watch the proceedings.

Lucinda, bookseller at Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights in Bath, said that they didn’t see much of the Torch relay event as they were off the route, but there was a definite buzz around the town, helped by the sunny weather. The bookshop entered into the spirit of the event with a red, white and blue window display while the people of Bath created their very own Olympic display, with over 2,200 people forming the Olympic rings  in front of the Royal Crescent.

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17. Olympic Bookshop Hop - Day Five, Bristol to Cheltenham


Day Five saw a spectacular start to the day with fireworks firing off the Clifton Suspension Bridge as the Torch made its way through Bristol to Wiltshire.


Photo: www.cliftonpeople.co.uk
Kathryn Atkins, owner of Durdham Down Books, Bristol, reported that, ‘The torch passed through at 8.45am, within 200 yards of our shop. There were tremendous crowds outside - children, parents and grandparents. My mum, who is in her 80s, was up just after 8am to see it – she’s old enough to remember the last London Games and is very proud that her youngest grandson, Will (my nephew), will be one of the Torchbearers when it arrives in the Birmingham area.

‘The appearance of the Torch created a lot of excitement locally, helped enormously by the sunshine. The Torch had arrived at the harbourside the evening before and many people were using it as an excuse to meet up with friends.

From a bookseller's perspective, ‘Olympic-themed books have been selling well for a few weeks and we have a display area devoted to these titles. Once the Games are underway, we’ll set up a special Olympics window display too.’

David Lawrence, supervisor at Foyles in Bristol noted that, ‘The torch travelled close by, but not past, our shop - it was quiet in the shop that day, but everyone who came in was talking about the torch and nearly everyone was wearing a Union Jack, or carrying a flag or a balloon. Bristol was very patriotic for an afternoon.’


On to Wiltshire, home to Stonehenge and the White Horse Bookshop (Vintage Independent Bookshop of the Year 2011!) in Malborough, Deborah Guest,  one of its booksellers, explained how, ‘The torch went right past our shop door and outside the street was packed with people cheering and waving flags. It was also boiling hot and there were a lot of children becoming very fractious. We went upstairs and hung out of the first floor windows – we had a great view from there, better than anybody in town.

‘We saw the street entertainers (half a dozen people on springy stilts), the sponsors’ lorries, and the torch changing hands half w

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18. Olympic Bookshop Hop - Day 6, Cheltenham to Worcester

Today we're catching up with Day 6 as the Torch passed by the lovely bookshops of Cheltenham, Ludlow and Worcester.

Dern Moss, of Moss Books in Cheltenham, reported that, 'a lot of people came out to see it and in the evening there were 40,000 people at the race course celebrating with music, other live entertainment and food. The stage was lit by a cauldron ignited by the Olympic flame.' However, 'the Torch didn't have much impact on the shop, despite a great deal of congestion in the town.'

Local MP, Philip Dunne, and the Mayor, get ready to welcome the Torch to Ludlow
The sun shone as the Torch passed through the south Shropshire towns of Ludlow, Clee Hill and Cleobury Mortimer. Stanton Stephens, owner of the Castle Bookshop in Ludlow, described how, 'The Torch arrived around lunchtime and the town was highly decorated in reading for the Jubilee celebrations. There was a special 'Olympian market' in the Square with music and entertainment. The route was lined with hundreds of people, including school people who had been let out of school for the afternoon.

'It was very busy in the town square that afternoon and there were lots of visitors to the shop. We had a special window display, featuring Peggy the Much Wenlock Piglet.' As Stanton points out, Much Wenlock was the first place to host a modern Olympics (the precursor of the Modern Games), hence the name (Wenlock!) of one of the offical Olympic mascots (bet you can't name the other without Googling it*).

Dr Brooks - not the most likely looking Olympian
Dr William Penny Brooks formed the Wenlock Olympian Society in 1850 - the Wenlock Olympian Society Annual Games are still held every July and this year's will take place from 8 to 21 July.

*It's Mandeville, after the precursor of the Paralympics Games, which were held at Stoke Mandeville Hospital.

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19. Olympic Bookshop Hop - Days 7, 8 & 9 - Worcester to Aberystwyth


A bumper post today as we catch up with the Torch as it travelled from Worcestershire, through Herefordshire and Monmouthshire and into Wales.

Susan Raine at the Malvern Book Cooperative, (which only opened last month with a very original model - check out its site to learn more about its innovative, community-focused structure), told us what happened when the Torch came to town. 

'Although not directly on the route of the torch, the Malvern Book Cooperative is definitely within shouting distance. So, we decided to get into the spirit of the games and join in. Our window is a combined Jubilee/Olympic theme with two dolls dressed in red, white and blue, wearing medals, waving flags and looking at books. We also feature a red, white and blue window box, fluttering ribbons and are displaying as many books as possible on a sporting theme.

'The Torch was not due until 9.10am, but we decided to open early. We'd already liaised with other Great Malvern traders concerning publicity and ordered 2012 golden balloons.


'On a glorious May morning we duly opened at 7am, and served early customers with a coffee/croissant deal for the day, while other members of staff patrolled the main road giving out golden balloons and spreading word of our early opening and breakfast deal.

'Everyone was in holiday mood! At the appointed time we shut the shop and joined the cheering crowds to see the Olympic Flame pass on its way. Then back to the shop and a rush of customers for both hot and cold drinks as well as the usual business of ordering, collecting and buying books.

'The whole of Malvern was in festive mood and really buzzing for the rest of the day. We were really glad to be part of the event and now it’s all systems go for Diamond Jubilee Weekend.'

From Worcestershire to Hereforshire and Monmouthshire, where Andy, owner of Rossiter Books, Ross-on-Wye, told us how, 'The streets were lined with 10,000 people, many of them school children who had been bussed in, so everything got screamed at, including the police motorcyclists. Two of my three children had arrived with their schools and were up on my shoulders joining in.

'The atmosphere built up nicely, with jugglers and people on stilts entertaining the crowds. Then the Olympic convoy arrived – the sponsors’ vehicles with dancers on top, which I hadn’t expected. After them, very quietly someone ran past the shop (within

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20. Olympic Bookshop Hop, Day 9 - Swansea to Aberystwyth


Day 9 and we spoke with Gareth Evans, the manager at Victoria Bookshop, Haverford West (the only independent bookshop in the county).

‘When we heard that the Torch was coming to town we thought about opening the shop, but decided not to. Haverford West is not really a Sunday-shopping town, and it’s unlikely that we’d have done much business. Once people found a good vantage point for seeing the Torch, they were reluctant to move in case they lost it.

'Here in west Wales, the Olympics isn’t creating extra business. Most of the Games are taking place too far away from us - the nearest event is Ladies’ Football in Cardiff, and, whilst I like the Ladies’ Football, this doesn’t have a great pull for me.

‘We did order in some Olympic 50p coins, featuring the different sports, to sell alongside the books, but these retail at £3, and once people learned that the coins were going to be in general circulation at their face value, there was no demand for them.’


In Fishguard, Bridget Kenner, co-owner of the Seaways Bookshop [I visited this bookshop last year - it's lovely, with a great selection of poetry and art books - definitely worth a detour if you're in the area - H] described the Torch Relay as a ‘really nice community event’ and highlighted the musical aspect.

‘The Goodwick Brass Band – a popular local band – played a mix of great Welsh and English tunes and there was a line up of local young athletes, one of whom sang the Welsh National Anthem.

‘For the first leg of the town relay, the Torch was carried by a local student and she handed it to Jill Edge, who carried it in a special attachment on her mobility scooter. Jill is well-known in the community for her efforts in trying to keep the local theatre and cinema open.

Simon Williams, manager at the Aberystwyth Art Centre, confessed to being ‘a bit negative’ about the Torch relay before its arrival, but having seen it, felt it ‘worked well. The Torch stopped here for the night and 8,000 people (three-quarters of the town’s population) turned up to see the evening cauldron being lit.’

Simon missed most of the entertainment while waiting at the bottom of his road for the Torchbearer to pass, but he didn’t miss out on the atmosphere. ‘There was an “everyone-on-the-street” feel about it, as though the people were reclaiming the town – a real com

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21. Olympic Bookshop Hop, Day 8 - Cardiff to Swansea


Day 8 started with Doctor Who in Cardiff where Hannah Liddle, assistant manager at Wellfield Bookshop, filled us in on events. 

‘I was working when the Torch arrived, but when it came close to our end of town some of my colleagues popped out to see it and told me all about it – I heard all about the big crowds and the patriotism, and how it had gone on a big loop around Cardiff before finally resting at the Castle. It was a really cheerful event.

‘We didn’t have any special Olympic event in the shop – the space is a bit limited for that – but we got on board with the whole spirit of the thing. We had a small promotion on children’s books linked with the Olympics. Many parents and teachers have been asking for Olympics titles, especially ones which focus on its history, and we like to make sure that we’ve got what people want.’

Marilyn Nicolle, manager at Uplands Bookshop in Swansea, said, ‘I would love to have seen the Torch, and planned to do so, but unfortunately one of my colleagues was taken ill and so I had to be in the shop and missed it. Another colleague, who knew the Torch bearer, popped out and reported that thousands of people turned up to see it as it made its way to Fingleton Park, where it rested for the night before going on to the Mumbles and off towards Carmarthen. Everyone was on a buzz that day.’

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22. Olympic Bookshop Hop - Day 10 - Aberystwyth to Bangor


Day 10 took us through some of the prettiest parts of west Wales as the Torch travelled from Aberystwyth to Bangor.

Local schoolgirl Carwen Richards was the first Torchbearer on Day 10 in Aberystwyth.
Paul Morgan manages Coch-Y-Bonddu, a specialist fishing and field sports bookshop in Machnynllet. He was a little underwhelmed.

'We weren’t very involved in the event. The Torch arrived at 10am on what would have been a quiet day, and it went back to being a quiet day soon after the torch had left. The town was packed for ten minutes and there was a great palaver as it went galloping past the shop and then everything returned to normal. It didn’t have much influence on our lives.

Ben Cowper, manager at Browsers Bookshop in Porthmadog, was more impressed. ‘It was really nice to see the town return to how it used to be on a busy summer’s day with hundreds of people out on the streets. There was almost a carnival feel about it.’

Ben’s only criticism was that after the initial fanfare there was a five minute delay before the Torch arrived and the delay dampened the atmosphere a little.

Generally though, the Torch was met with great enthusiasm and when Ben left the shop and travelled home, he saw that there were still people lining the route of the Torch and ‘even when it was being carried in the van, they still came out to wave and cheer it on.’

Stephen Wright, manager of Booksellers in Pwllheli, ‘There was an excellent turnout in Pwllheli. It was the Torch’s third day in Wales and the Torchbearer began on the outskirts of town and then ran down to the Sailing Club. Pwllheli had had great hopes of being included as one of the Olympic venues, but it was not to be. However, we’re still hopeful that some of the teams might come here for training.’

Pwiheli harbour - looks lovely!
'The Torch w

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23. Olympic Bookshop Hop, Day 13 - Stoke-on-Trent to Bolton

70 days
8,000 runners
8,000 miles
800 bookshops
Nigel Webberley, owner of Webberleys Bookshop, Stoke-on-Trent told us that you needed to be up very early to catch the action on Day 13 of the Olympic torch relay.  Unluckily for Nigel: ‘The torch came past at 6am and had gone by the time we arrived there so we didn’t see anything of it. The places where it was of interest were the local schools in smaller towns and villages along the route. Congleton, in particular was gridlocked. I know this because I have to drive through Congleton. It was full of parents with gangs of children, all enjoying themselves.

‘The event was really for children and Stoke isn’t really accessible to children at 6am.’

The torch continued on its route and reached Runcorn at a more sociable hour, where Liz Howard, owner Curiosity Bookshop, told us that, ‘It was wonderful. Our shop was covered with balloons and Union Jacks. There aren’t many shops on the High Street, and the bank next door (HSBC) wasn’t allowed to put out bunting as it was thought “politically incorrect”, so we stood out.

The Curiosity Bookshop in Runcorn joining in the fun with the worlds' local bank next door
‘It absolutely poured down on the day – and I don’t mean the odd shower – but it didn’t dampen our spirits. No one minded the weather; we just got on with it.

‘I was surprised by the length of the parade – I didn’t realise that there’d be so many vehicles. The children were all very excited. Before it arrived there was two hours’ of entertainment, with clowns on push bikes, and French onion sellers playing ukuleles and singing French songs. There was also drum band from a local high school, wearing blue and silver satin outfits and getting drenched.

Clowning around in front of another local bank in Runcorn - this one with flags. 
‘This kind of thing doesn’t happen very often in Runcorn so I was out there taking photographs. Someone asked me why I was taking pictures before the torch arrived, so I said that I wanted to capture the street with people in it!’

Before the torch arrived, Liz was joined by Mrs Philpott, who had been there at the 1948 Olympics and saw the Olympic flame being lit at the stadium then. ‘We gave her a chair and she sat by the edge of the road with her mac and umbrella and was thrilled to see the torch for a second time in her lifetime.’
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24. Olympic Bookshop Hop, Day 12 - Chester to Stoke-On-Trent

70 days
8,000 runners
8,000 miles
800 bookshops
From an overnight rest at Chester Racetrack, the torch started its journey carried by 16 year old badminton player Jennifer Moore. Did you know that the finest shuttlecocks are said to be made from the left wing of a goose? That's right - no joke.

Carrie Morris, co-owner (with her husband Tim) of Booka Bookshop in Oswestry waited eagerly for the torch's arrival, ‘It was very, very exciting – a huge success. There were 10,000 people lining the streets, wearing red, white and blue, waving flags and cheering. It was a great atmosphere.

‘There were lots of school children from all the different primary schools in the area and they were sitting and standing on the pavement, watching and cheering and waving too.

Photo taken by Tim from Booka Bookshop in Oswestry
'Ours is a café-bookshop and afterwards it was full. We had a busy, busy day.'

Carrie’s only disappointment was that the Oswestry leg of the relay didn’t get much TV coverage. ‘The focus was very much on Much Wenlock down the road, because of its historic links with the Olympic Games.’

Even the mascot Wenlock (or is it the other one) is keeping one eye on the road as it passes through Oswestry on its way to Much Wenlock (did I say Wenlock?).

Anna Dreda, owner of Wenlock Books, Much Wenlock said that the torch was greeted by a crowd of 10,000 at Much Wenlock, which had squeezed into the narrow streets.

Anna sent us this photo taken by local artist Beverley Fry (www.beverleyfry.co.uk) showing the waiting crowd
Anna said that the torch relay had a special significance for the town, as Much Wenlock is where the modern Olympics started. Her shop

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25. Olympic Bookshop Hop, Day 11 - Beaumaris to Chester

70 days
8,000 runners
8,000 miles
800 bookshops
There ain't no river wide enough, ain't no valley low enough, ain't no mountain high enough to keep the torch from you!  Today we saw the torch cross from Anglesey across the Menai Straits (ok it's not really a river), pass through some Welsh valleys and up Mount Snowdon (carried by Sir Chris Bonington) before being taken to the races at Chester.

Clare Glass, manager of Waterstone’s in Llandudno wasn't in the shop, but didn't miss out: ‘It was my day off, but the torch happened to go past my house so I saw it then.

‘In Llandudno, it travelled along the prom and I heard that a lot of people turned up. The town really got behind it and there are still British flags flying.

‘We had a dump bin outside the shop featuring Olympics and Jubilee titles, but on the whole the shop had a quiet day. We were expecting some of the crowds to come into the town, but after the torch had passed, they all went home.’

Donna Morris, store assistant at WHSmith, Rhyl said, ‘The torch was a few streets away from our shop so I didn’t see much and to be honest, I didn’t have much interest in it at first, but then I heard the crowds cheering and the loudspeakers playing Chariots of Fire and a shiver went down my spine, and I really got into it.’


A spokesperson at Bluecoat Bookshop in Chester wasn't won over by the fun of the event and didn't hang around: ‘The torch came in the evening and we’d gone by then. I had no interest in it whatsoever. The roads were closed for the night and that was bad enough.’

So there you go - make all that effort Sir Chris and what for?  Well it worked for Diana Ross.

Missing something? If you work in a bookshop on or near the route and we've missed you out from our blog, please contact us with your news and views of the relay (including any photographs) as we'd love to add you to our blog.  

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