I recently read that Wimpy Kid author Jeff Kinney is opening up his own bookshop in the town where he lives. He isn’t the first author to do this – Nora Roberts, for example, also owns a bookshop which her husband runs in their hometown. There seems to have always been a bookshop fantasy for writers – not just for our books to be stocked on the shelves, but also a fantasy of owning our own one.
I think it’s a great idea that successful authors are taking on bookshops. It’s not an easy climate to run any kind of independent shop but especially bookshops which have seen decline and even large chains have struggled to keep up with online retailers and the rise of ebooks. A big name may well draw in customers, fans of the author will no doubt pop in for a signed book or the chance to see their favourite author behind a till, but also authors in general (I hope anyway!) love books. They make ideal bookshops owners because of their passion for books and their desire to encourage everyone to read more.
I have a feeling my fantasy of owning a bookshop started by watching the film You’ve Got Mail, even though that store closes during the film. I remember being scared about going to university and telling my mum I wished I could just buy a bookshop in the country instead! I am also certain that my love of books is the reason why it always seemed so appealing, to be surrounded by my favourite things every day and helping people discover wonderful books always seemed like a dream, and very rewarding, job.
Like any fantasy, you tune out how difficult it would be to start up your own bookshop – you’d need money obviously, a good location where you’d be able to draw in regular customers, and a strong business plan to make sure you didn’t fold in the first year. That’s why it’s great that authors like Jeff Kinney are taking on the task, he obviously has the money to pour into the business and the passion to really make it work. I am looking forward to seeing how it all works out and whether it will encourage more authors to take the plunge.
I also hope a British author can do the same thing one day as their shops would be easier for me to visit!
Do you have the bookshop fantasy?