Last week I was on holiday in Ryde on the Isle of Wight with my family. We’ve been before, but this year I needed to seek out a bookshop. We had to (absolutely HAD TO) order in a copy of the just-published second book in John Dougherty’s brilliant Stinkbomb and Ketchup-Face series (this one subtitled And the Quest for the Magic Porcupine) and I was keen to do so at an independent bookshop. So I googled bookshops on the island, and to my delight there was an indie right there in Ryde! Selling not just new books, but second-hand ones too.
But I had NO idea what a treasure trove it would prove to be. And describing it is really difficult, because I’ve never been in a shop like it. Let me try though…
Imagine a big town house – three storeys. Take all the furniture out and fill all the walls with bookshelves. ALL the walls. Not just the ones in the rooms, but the walls on the landings too. Oh, and the windows. Who needs windows anyway? Put shelves in them! Now put some shelves down the middle of each room, leaving just enough space for the average-sized person to squeeze between. (They’ll soon realise they can’t bring in any kind of bulky bags due to shelf-sweeping issues.)
OK. Now, fill the shelves with books. Go on, squish them in. In some kind of order, of course. Crime and sci-fi in the back downstairs room, along with ‘women’s fiction’ (i.e. anything in a pastel jacket) and Mills and Boon. Typography, cartography and geography in the corridor on the way there. Children’s fiction up the stairs – try to keep the Blytons together; have a whole wall for Ladybird books. Copies of the Beano don’t stack well, so put them in a crate for people to rifle through. Annuals dating back to the sixties are so numerous they’ll have to go on the floor, two rows deep.
Put the literary fiction on the landing stairs. Humour, astronomy, the occult, celebrity biographies – they can all go right at the very top of the building. Not got room for everything? Pile them on the floor. Put them in boxes.
Oh – and make sure you have at least one chair or stepladder in each room, because even the tallest visitor won’t be able to reach the books nudged against the ceiling. Health and Safety and risk assessments? Don’t make me laugh!
NOW you have some idea of what Ryde bookshop is like.
If you ever get the chance to visit, you won’t regret it. You’ll find all kinds of bizarre items:
and you could play ‘Best Title Ever’ with your mates:
What’s it called? Ryde Bookshop. Does what it says on the tin. And WHAT A TIN IT IS. Bootiful.
(And they ordered in John’s book too, which is just as hilarious as the first in the series. Review to come.)