10 of the best book shops in Lancashire
PUBLISHED: 13:53 23 January 2016 | UPDATED: 21:18 27 January 2016
Paula de Santana gives us her favourite spots for book lovers in the county and the best ways to buy literature in Lancashire
Independent bookshops have become something of a rare bred these days. Digital readers, online retailers and supermarket bookshelves have squeezed small independent stores out of the market. The individual and unique places we used to love are now box standard stationery stores. But bookworms… Fear not. Some very brave book lovers have transformed their bookstores into something way more than shelves stacked with cheap books. Our little hideaways are still safe.
Ebb & Flo Bookshop, Chorley
Ebb & Flo is a busy little bookshop and there is always an event going on. They not only host author visits, children activities and a reading group, but they are also home to a children’s den, an art gallery, handmade crafts and, at times, they even spill out of their natural habitat into outside events with their pop-up bookshop. If that wasn’t enough, they get involved with local schools too. If you are in their neck of the woods, a visit is a must.
Address: 12 Gillibrand Street, Chorley, PR7 2EJ Tel: 01257 262 773
Pam’s Bookend, Great Harwood
Pam’s Bookend is probably the smallest of all the bookshops in the list but it is a beautiful little store jam packed with interesting gems. It quite literally feels like you are inside a treasure chest. And if Pam doesn’t have what you are looking for, she will order it in for you. Pop in and say hi.
Address: 67 Queen Street, Great Harwood, BB6 7QP Tel: 01254 882 477
Storyteller Inc., Lytham St Annes
Originally a children's bookshop, Storytellers Inc now also offers something for the grown-ups. The brainchild of a mother and daughter pair, they host all sorts of events, get involved with the local schools and usually have one of the best window displays going for a book store. A welcome break from the busy high street and it’s just across the road from St Annes train station.
Address: 7 The Crescent, Lytham St Annes, FY8 1SN Tel: 01253 781 690
Rebound is one of the quirkiest second-hand bookshops I have ever seen. Well… Technically, there are two bookshops, one right across the street from the other, and they sell not only second-hand books, but also vinyl records and tapes. They are home to a café and a children’s zone, but the most amazing thing about Rebound is that selling books isn’t their main business. Part of Bootstrap Enterprises, Rebound’s main mission is actually to train unemployed local people to work in retail and customer service. It is not just a bookshop; it is a charity with a mission. Their stock depends solely of donations from households across East Lancashire, so if you are in Blackburn and want to find good books a new home, this is the place. While you are in there, check out the décor – retro and cool!
Address: 18-20 Town Hall Street, Blackburn, BB1 1AG Tel: 01254 290 088
Clitheroe Books, Clitheroe
A second-hand bookstore, Clitheroe Books are heavily involved with the local Fair Trade group and poetry scene. They even publish their own poetry pamphlet showcasing local talent! You can definitely feel their earthiness and warm once you walk through the doors. One of the many services they offer is a credit system for swapping your books. So basically, if you see something you like, you can bring something they like and they will part exchange it for you. Or if not, you can keep your credit until the next time you pop in. If you do wish to use this service, though, just contact them in advance to discuss what books you would like to swap for credit, as they only buy subject specific books and are usually offered more books than they can buy.
Address: 29 Moor Lane, Clitheroe, BB7 1BE Tel: 01200 444 242
Novel Café, Lancaster
Novel Café is a hybrid between a coffee shop and bookstore. Their main business is the coffee shop, but while you pop in for a cuppa, you can browse their new and second-hand book selection. If you find a second-hand book you like, you are in for a bargain! It’s only £2 for a paperback and £2.50 for a hardcover. Upstairs they have a children’s play area with plenty of toys to keep the little ones busy while you browse and warm up and they won’t mind if you bring your pooch along either, as long as they are well behaved. Their cakes are also seriously yummy and they even have gluten free ones! If you are lucky, or well organised, you might catch them when they are hosting a bookish event.
Address: 18 New Street, Lancaster, LA1 1EZ Tel: 01524 840 766
Rhode Island Coffee, Blackburn
Rhode Island Coffee is not a bookshop; it is a coffee shop. So why is it in this list? They are home to a little corner of heaven – a book exchange. Yes, you read that right, exchange. You pop in for a cuppa and a little sweet something (is there a better way to read?) and bring with you a book you have read and would like to swap for a new reading frontier. Scan the shelves and, if you find something you would like to read, just swap it for yours. It’s is that simple. No need to sign in or out or even speak to anyone if you don’t want to. Rhode Island Coffee also has branches in Bolton and Burnley.
Address: 3-7 Lord Street, The Mall, Blackburn, BB1 7NQ (opposite Debenhams) Tel: 01254 697 804
For those who want to help charities
These days all bookshops have a mission, and none more so than your local charity shop. They have dominated the landscape of the local high street in recent years, but they are a good place to buy books. Most Oxfam charity shops will host a second-hand book section and while enterprises like Rebound in Blackburn help local people, Oxfam has more of an international view and gets involved with projects all over the world, especially in third world countries. So you can get your book fix and help save the world all at the same time. Bingo!
For those who want to buy online
If browsing through an actual physical store isn’t for you, there is a way to shop online that allows you to support local businesses and avoid the large online retailers that have undercut our local bookshops in recent years.
Hive.co.uk and LocalBookshop.co.uk, both are online platforms where you can look for a book online and buy it from the local retailer nearest to you. Hive is a bigger set up and sells not only books, but also DVDs, CDs and even vynils. You can actually purchase goods through them and they will make sure your local retailer gets paid. Local Bookshop is a smaller set up and does pretty much what it says on the tin, you won’t be able to buy the book from them, but you will be put in touch with the bookstore so that you can make your purchase.
If you want to show even more love for your local indie bookshops, check Indie Bound, the people behind Independent Bookshop week, which will happen in June this year. There will be all sorts of events going on, so it’s well worth having a look.
Indie Bound - www.indiebound.org.uk
For those who want to borrow books
Libraries are not bookshops, so why are they in this list? As the old adage goes ‘If you don’t use it, you lose it’ while funding across the arts in the county has been cut in recents years, the first casualties are usually the local libraries due to a fall in visitor numbers.
They are often an important community hub offering courses for adults, children activities and making not only books, but DVDs, CDs and computers accessible to everyone.
You might be surprised just how many events and activities they host or how many goodies you can get your hands on completely free of charge. Some of the library buildings are so beautiful and elegant, take a moment to experience the wonderful surroundings in places such as the Harris Library in Preston, where there are also many books on local subjects for sale in their shop.
If you want to campaign to save the libraries: www.librarycampaign.com/ and speakupforlibraries.org
What are your favourite places to buy books in Lancashire? Leave a comment below or send us a tweet at @lancashirelife
You can follow Paula on twitter at @PSSoBookish