Why bookshops need us now more than ever #BookshopDay

Posted on October 1, 2020

Portobello Bookshop

This Saturday, 3 October, is Bookshop Day 2020. We’d like to take this opportunity to issue a huge thank you to all booksellers: for fighting to stay open, for adapting and moulding to continuously changing regulations, and – mostly – for making sure nobody went through lockdown without books. Thank you.

Bookshops have been on a roller coaster ride this year, with many being forced to close down and many fighting with everything they have to keep their doors open. However, booksellers throughout the UK are reporting a burst in sales since readers returned to bookshops after the lockdown, with “Super Thursday” contributing to their best first week of September since records began; indie bookshops have embraced online retail with both hands; and readers are showing their commitment to bookshops by braving queues, masks, and over-powerful hand sanitiser dispensers just to be back in their local bookshop and talk to booksellers again. But it takes more than one record week to make up for the impact COVID-19 has had, and will continue to have, on our shops. So, we mustn’t take our foot off the gas. We must continue to support bookshops and make smart shopping choices as often as we can.

We must put our money where our mouth is.

“I can think of few more pleasurable ways of whiling away an hour of two than browsing in a bookshop, chatting to booksellers, and leaving with a bundle of volumes. Which is why, now more than ever, if we value these places, we must lend them our support.”

Bookshops turn the rather solitary act of reading into a shared experience. They provide safe spaces for people to explore and question their views and experiences. To broaden their world beyond their doorstep, to travel to places they can’t reach and to meet people they wouldn’t encounter otherwise. Things that have become increasingly important this year because of the pandemic, of course, but also because of the rise of Black Lives Matter.

“You go there to unearth things you never knew existed.”

We asked our Bookshop Champion, Graeme Macrae Burnet, what bookshops mean to him:

Graeme at Daunt Books, Marylebone

“I still remember the moment when as an eighteen-year-old student I first stepped into Glasgow’s legendarily chaotic second-hand bookshop Voltaire & Rousseau. The fusty smell of yellowing Penguins, the cat sleeping on what passed as the cash desk, the quiet soundtrack of an operatic aria: I felt like I had entered a magical secret world. And I had. There’s no point going to Voltaire & Rousseau to find a particular book. You go there to unearth things you never knew existed. And so it is with all good bookshops. They take you places you didn’t expect to go. Like most writers I have thousands of books. I might not remember much about the content of some, but I remember exactly where I bought every one. Discovering Madeleine Bourdouxhe on a well-curated table of translated fiction in Waterstones Glasgow; instigating a shop-wide search for the sole copy of Annie Ernaux’s The Years in Primrose Hill Books; thrillingly seeing a copy of The Disappearance of Adèle Bedeau in the wild for the first time in Edinburgh’s Golden Hare Books. I can think of few more pleasurable ways of whiling away an hour of two than browsing in a bookshop, chatting to booksellers, and leaving with a bundle of volumes. Which is why, now more than ever, if we value these places, we must lend them our support.”

So, this Bookshop Day we’re asking you to get out there and show your support by buying a book. If you can’t make it to a physical shop then check whether your local independent bookshop is offering delivery.

If, like us, you have a TBR pile as tall as your dining table then you could always buy a book for someone else (it’s never too early to think about Christmas shopping). If you need some inspiration, the team have put together some Christmas gift recommendations:


As the Women Lay Dreaming, Donald S Murray for literature lovers with an interest in Scottish history

Mordew, Alex Pheby for lit. fiction readers who want to escape into a fantasy world


Anne Brontë Reimagined, Adelle Hay for your favourite Brontë fan

Big Friendship, Aminatou Sow & Ann Friedman: best described as a memoir of friendship – for your closest friends.


Twenty Football Towns, Steve Leach especially for Northerners (and dads!)

Antlers of Water, ed. Kathleen Jamie outstanding Scottish nature writing by some of Sara’s favourite authors

And we couldn’t end a blog post about bookshops without mentioning some of our favourites.

We all had to pick just one – it was near impossible.

Aisling loves Mainstreet Trading

My favourite thing about going home for the weekend, closely followed by seeing my mum. Their book recommendations are second to none and their Guinness cake is the best thing I’ve ever eaten.

Rosie loves The Whitby Bookshop

My earliest memories of browsing books are all in Whitby Bookshop. The winding wooden staircase to the upper floor and the beautiful shop window have never lost their magic.

And Sara couldn’t pick one, so went for Sam Read and Daunt Books

Sam Read, Grasmere, because it’s always been a place of magic for me since early childhood. And Daunt Books in Marylebone, which is one of the most beautiful and well-curated bookshops anywhere.
And please can I have another 20 choices??