I remember seeing the Harbour Bookshop swathed in scaffolding, and my heart plummeted. This bookshop of literary significance had just become another victim to the decline of independent bookshops. Goodness knows what terror may spring up in its place.
But, a beacon in the dark: hand written signs, pointing up the dank and narrow alleyway running alongside the late bookshop, proclaiming books could be found.
Emerging from the alleyway into a pretty street, the sun shone relentlessly onto a bright and bustling, paint-fresh bookshop.
It wasn’t just the warmth of the sun that comforted me after such a blow. I knew, stepping into the shop, that here was a project I wish would exist in every town. Condensed into a small shop were books, smelling factory fresh, delicately chosen to sit proudly on the shelves.
Dartmouth Community Bookshop’s Facebook page proclaims its simple aim – to retain the tradition of a book lover visiting a bookshop; of the encounters with books that can’t be found anywhere else, especially not on the internet. It also outlined the importance of staff and customer relationships, the advice and guidance from the expansive knowledge of the staff.
With the increase of buying on the internet, Dartmouth Community Bookshop stands as a beacon for the magical aura and unique experience of independent bookshops.
After the shock of Harbour Bookshop’s untimely death, Dartmouth was left without a bookshop from which the most avid readers could keep up with new and popular publications. The community rallied and were supported by similar projects. Shelf by shelf and person by person the community built a shop that stands proudly within Dartmouth, and retains the important literary links with the town and its people, providing Dartmouth with great and new delights for the entire town to devour.
I took away with me four Book Time magazines and a warm feeling in my heart. There are people out there determined to keep the light burning brightly for independent bookshops, and the importance of loving books. It truly is a place to remember how books can delight not only a book lover, but a whole community.
Dartmouth Community Bookshop
12 Higher Street