Back in the dim mists of 2015, we celebrated Independent Bookshop Week by asking some of our fellow indie booksellers to tell us about life at their own wonderful bookshops. For two of the contributing booksellers, this sparked an idea... and this week the Great British Bookseller Swap kicks off, with Keira Brown from the Edinburgh Bookshop spending some time with us in London (lucky Gayle will be doing a stint in Edinburgh in return). Keira says, "I wrote about working for the Edinburgh Bookshop during Independent Bookshops Week last year, and from discussion it appeared it would be useful to learn from each other's approaches. It is a fantastic initiative - we can see how each other operates, runs and promotes, and take a fresher look at our own work." Here, Keira tells us a little bit more about herself and her bookselling style.
How long have you been a bookseller?
On and off, since 2001, when I was just 18, working for Indigo in Toronto.
Tell us a bit about the Edinburgh Book Shop.
I am very fortunate to work with a marvellous team of staff at the Edinburgh Bookshop, who are all truly passionate about what they do. Cat Anderson, devoted to children’s literature and more specifically young adult fiction, has an almost unbeatable knowledge of this area, reading to the toddlers and engaging with the older ones through children’s fortnightly book clubs. Marie, the owner, with her familiarity with the classics and contemporaries and understanding of the community, has a fantastic sense of what her customers are looking for as well as a love of giving back to the community. Titles such as Tove Jansson’s The Summer Book, Chris Haughton’s A Bit Lost and Robert Macfarlane’s Landmarks are all big sellers in the shop. These are books that we as booksellers love, but that also perfectly match our customers’ current interest in nature tomes.
What are you reading right now?
The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin.
Name three books on your reading list
What is the one book you wish you could sell to everyone who walks into your shop?
Keep The Aspidistra Flying by George Orwell.
Do you have a favourite publisher? If so, why are they your favourite?
Walker Books – they publish fantastic children’s books, and they’re completely independent and loved by our community.
What’s the weirdest book question you’ve ever been asked by a customer at work?
This was in Borders, but “Where can I get a library card?” was an odd one.
Favourite book jacket OF ALL TIME?
I do love Donald Barthelme’s Forty Stories cover.
If you could work in any bookshop in the world (outside of these two wonderful institutions), which would it be?
Undoubtedly Shakespeare & Co – a wonderful Parisian bookshop that has so much rich literary history residing in it.