Review: The Bookshop Book by Jen Campbell

Guest Post by Steve Daykin

Jen Campbell must have had a lot of fun compiling this book. The Bookshop Book is a labour of love; it’s part travelogue, part guidebook. Campbell writes of all the weird, unique and sometimes bizarre bookshops and the equally weird, unique and sometimes bizarre people who work in them.

I don’t know if Campbell actually travelled to the hundreds of shops she describes in her book. Nevertheless, she has produced a handy book to stow in your own suitcase if you’re packing for a trip to Europe or North America. It’s a kind of guidebook.

The Bookshop Book is an eclectic mix of interviews with bookstore owners and employees, customers, authors about bookshops, their role as community hubs, and much more. We hear from those who love bookshops and those who dream about them. Those who work in them, and some who live in them and some who do all of these things.

Some people do plain eccentric things, like Marta Minujin, who built a 25 metre high tower of books in Buenos Aires with 30,000 titles of all languages. She called it the Tower of Babel.

We hear, too, from famous authors, like Bill Bryson and Audrey Niffenegger.

The Bookshop Book contains the secret for success for bricks and mortar bookshops trying win in a world of e-books and online retailers. It’s a secret so powerful yet basic, and which many retail outlets – be they bookshops or others – appear to have forgotten. And it’s this: be interesting, and give meaningful customer service.


Steve loves reading, writing, excellent coffee, good company, new and secondhand bookshops, libraries, and much more besides!

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Jodie How

West Australian writer, poet and blogger.
Jodie How

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