Independent bookselling is alive and (reasonably) well in Ireland!

What a joy to visit Whyte’s Bookshop in Schull, County Cork last week! See http://www.whytebooks.com/index.html for a little glimpse. What was particularly great about the shop was that the staff are passionate about books, writing, reading and bookselling. Despite the deep and seemingly endless recession in the Irish economy, books still sell and book club membership is on the rise, as reading is a relatively inexpensive leisure activity and one that combines pleasure, entertainment and social involvement. Parents continue to encourage their children to read and the Irish love of language and drive to communicate is never far from the surface. All this adds up to a successful, steady business, holding its own in a village with a resident population of less than 700 (plus a wider rural population and a seasonal tourist trade).

So, how do they do it? Well-located in the Main Street, this attractive little shop entices and encourages readers of all ages to come in and spend time in the company of books and other readers – there’s a tiny coffee bar, with books you can read even if your fingers are sticky with carrot cake, a delightful play area for under-5s – with books in with the soft toys and trains – a room upstairs dedicated to teen readers full of funky fun and teen fiction and a good selection of current, recent and classic literature and non-fiction filling the painted shelves in several small rooms with plenty of chairs and encouragement to browse, or chat…and to read. Heaven!

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