Our July Bookshop of the Month is the Book Corner, which is situated on Milton Street in the lovely seaside town of Saltburn, North Yorkshire. This independent bookshop sells new books, specialising in contemporary fiction and children’s books. They also stock stand-out non-fiction, including local history, nature writing, memoir and poetry. We spoke to the shop’s manager, Jenna, to learn a bit more about Saltburn’s favourite independent bookshop!
1. As a famous historical seaside resort, Saltburn-by-the-Sea has retained plenty of its Victorian charm. What’s it like running a bookshop in a town that has such a fascinating history?
Saltburn is a lovely place to be. Its Victorian history and architecture is one of its attractions for visitors. Books about local history tend to do very well, and the town seems to be a great source of inspiration for writers and artists. But the history is just one part of that, I think. We’re also surrounded by beautiful countryside, and not at all far from the North York Moors.
2. What was it that inspired you to open up an independent bookshop, particularly in Saltburn? What do you hope your bookshop brings to the area?
Saltburn was my hometown for many years and I’ve always been very fond of it. While the town had a secondhand bookshop for decades, there was never a shop specializing in new books. Saltburn has always felt like a very creative place to me, with lots of creative people, so I thought it was a bit strange that there was no new bookshop. I’ve always loved books, and I write myself. It felt like a niche I could fill. I hope the shop provides a friendly space for book lovers, and also for writers. I like to think that my shop helps provide a platform for local writers.
3. It says on your website that you specialize in contemporary fiction, children’s books and non-fiction. If you could recommend one book published in the past year, what would it be?
Shadowplay by Joseph O’Connor. It’s about Bram Stoker, author of Dracula, and the many years he spent as manager of the Lyceum Theatre when it was under the directorship of actor Henry Irving. It’s a fabulous book. It has a mysterious, Gothic atmosphere, but it’s also funny, with elements of pastiche. The characters are wonderful, and the novel is very deep and humane. It made me cry, quite unexpectedly.
4. What types of books have your customers been buying recently through the ordering service? Have you seen any trends of late?
People seem to want escapism. I’ve mainly sold novels, including cosy crime, fantasy, and commercial fiction. High profile books, such as The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel, have also sold well. I’ve also sold a lot of nature writing.
5. And finally, do you have any exciting plans for the shop in the coming months that you’d like to share with us?
Before the current crisis, I had a thriving events programme featuring author visits and writing workshops. I’m looking forward to a time when it’s safe to resume these activities. But in the meantime, I’m planning to launch an e-commerce website, so I can start selling books online. I’m going to carefully curate the online stock, and include book reviews. The site will have a blog, and I hope to feature guest posts from customers and writers. I’d like it to be a space to promote and discuss books, as well as sell them.