Imagine Books is located in perhaps the most desirable street for housing quirky and interesting shops – St Alban’s Street, known fondly by the locals ‘Flag Street’, according to the multicoloured flags on the bunting that is strewn from shop to shop like dew-caught spider-webs on a frosty autumn morning. The Flagman (I forget his name) must have done a roaring trade for the Royal Wedding.
The bookshop is quite modern and stylish. I especially like to see outside a bookshop a tray of books. It says to the passer by, ‘You are completely welcome to peruse all in this tray, and you will find even more delights inside’.
Delights inside there certainly were. The first thing that hits you upon walking into the shop is the smell – a smell of incense and candles to have a relaxing bath with. Not that this smell is distracting or misplaced – as well as incense, statuettes of fairies and other such souvenirs were offered for sale, complimenting the aura and the taste of the shop. There were books to match. The first room had a good stock of new books, several about health and wellbeing, and a book of ‘spells’ for girls, as well As heavy interest in local publications and maritime interests. Of course, I couldn’t deny that in perhaps every shop I was set to visit there would be a heavy nautical section. The new books for sale here include Wordsworth Classics and little Beatrix Potter’s.
I drooled over the small antiquarian cabinet in the first room. Among the gorgeously desirable old and pricey rare children’s books were more figurines of fairies.
A door opened out onto a small courtyard, a chance to sit and reflect – surrounded by the rooms full of books.
The ‘corridor’ linking the first room and the back room of the shop announced the second-hand book section in all its glory. The walls were lined with shelves of books, accompanied by friendly signs guiding people through the wide variety of subjects they had stacked on the shelves, including transport, culture, DIY, and classics. I searched in vain to find a DIY bookbinding book, but alas, nothing came up, apart from a two paged reference to bookbinding in a huge manual of English trade crafts.
The final room was snuggled into the back of the shop. Here, history, fiction, and children’s. I was delighted to find that there were several Hornblower books for sale. For older books in the children’s sections choice was limited – just a couple of pretty looking books, and a good pile of old annuals and magazines.
The second hand books have been well chosen, offering a decent browse, many of the books not what you might call ‘books you typically find in a charity shop,’ a sign of the consideration the owners take into stocking their shelves. Also dotted around the shelves were stacks of old magazines and comics – I can imagine this would the perfect kind of shop for a comic book geek.
Imagine Books is a wonderful shop, the kind of place I could spend hours in. Although some people may think the combination of selling incense and books may be strange to some people, I think it is a good sign of the initiative an owner must take when running a bookshop – in today’s climate, it is very difficult to keep on running a bookshop – it must expand and have multiple sources of interest. The comic books and the various figurines are a reflection of the owner’s tastes, and it gives the shop really character, the smells inviting you in and the quirky decorations making the bookshop that little bit more special. Staff are friendly and well informed. In fact, if I hadn’t asked the woman there about bookshops in Weymouth I would have been on a wild goose chase trying to find the two other bookshops that no longer exist. Imagine Books is a strong, unique shop that I hope will carry on for a good while.