A St Johns-based writer is testing the town’s appetite for an independent bookshop, with the launch of a ‘curated’ pop-up inside another local business in the run-up to Christmas.
Drawing on writing contacts, non-fiction writer and novelist Anna Wharton has put together what will be a constantly-refreshing collection of recent releases and classics in each genre – all books beloved by her fellow ‘curators’.
“These are the books we long to press into other people’s hands,” she said. “There’s not a single book in the shop that has not been picked by a writer.
“We writers are the ones who are reading all the time, and swapping books.
“The central premise of The Book Room is that it is a bookshop that has been put together by writers for readers, and it is these ‘Writers Recommend’ curations that are proving so popular.”
She added: “I’m just hoping people will try a different genre – maybe we can provide an entry point to that genre.”
Poet Sarah Salway handles the ‘list’ for short stories, while music journalist Ian Winwood draws on music writing, Mark Hamer curates nature writing, and Karen Angelico oversees the relationships and intimacy genre.
Jennifer Saint has drawn up the list of books on Greek myths, and Debora Robertson is in charge of the cookery books.
With so many different genres each backed by a writer, Anna hopes the business will draw in just as many different types of readers, from book groups buying multiple copies to school workshops and Young Adult book clubs.
Pointing to her new temporary location, inside florists The Bloom Foundry in St John’s Road, Anna said: “We’ve got so many kids passing. We’d really like to get the kids in.”
Meanwhile, The Bloom Foundry’s customers will still be coming in to the store, especially once Christmas wreath workshops start on November 24.
Meanwhile, because the pop-up is shares space, there will be constant turnover as new books are released, but The Book Room can order anything, and offers free delivery within the TN4 postcode.
The two-month pop-up plan for The Book Room is to gain market information and build relationships with customers.
“I would love a permanent base,” Anna said. “I’m testing to see whether people have the appetite for a local independent bookshop.”
The Book Room will be at The Bloom Foundry, 55 St John’s Road, until at least Christmas Eve, and offers free delivery within the TN4 postcode. Keep up with the curators and the book collections on their YouTube channel at tinyurl.com/54rn35u4 or find them on Instagram @thebookroom.shop