The Bookshop Book by Jen Campbell

December 22, 2018 Book Reviews 4 ★★★★

The Bookshop Book by Jen CampbellThe Bookshop Book by Jen Campbell
Published by Constable on October 2, 2014
Genres: Nonfiction
Pages: 288
Format: Kindle or ebook
Source: purchased
Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository | Bookshop
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We're not talking about rooms that are just full of books.

We're talking about bookshops in barns, disused factories, converted churches and underground car parks. Bookshops on boats, on buses, and in old run-down train stations. Fold-out bookshops, undercover bookshops, this-is-the-best-place-I've-ever-been-to-bookshops.

Meet Sarah and her Book Barge sailing across the sea to France; meet Sebastien, in Mongolia, who sells books to herders of the Altai mountains; meet the bookshop in Canada that's invented the world's first antiquarian book vending machine.

And that's just the beginning.

From the oldest bookshop in the world, to the smallest you could imagine, The Bookshop Book examines the history of books, talks to authors about their favourite places, and looks at over three hundred weirdly wonderful bookshops across six continents (sadly, we've yet to build a bookshop down in the South Pole).

The Bookshop Book is a love letter to bookshops all around the world.


"A good bookshop is not just about selling books from shelves, but reaching out into the world and making a difference." ~ David Almond

(The Bookshop Book includes interviews and quotes from David Almond, Ian Rankin, Tracy Chevalier, Audrey Niffenegger, Jacqueline Wilson, Jeanette Winterson and many, many others.)


The Bookshop Book is a book that only booklovers, and particularly bookshop lovers, will love… but for those of us who fall in that category, it’s delightful. Author and bookseller Jen Campbell alternates between longer pieces about the history of specific bookshops, “chats” with authors about bookshops in general and their favorites in particular, and brief but enticing descriptions of a whole host of other bookshops. My only quibble, and it’s a small one, is that I would have liked to know which of these Campbell has visited personally, and which she has not.

The scope is international, and the book is divided by geographic region. There are perhaps more British bookshops and fewer US shops than US readers might expect (or prefer), but since Campbell is herself a British bookseller, it’s understandable.

A handy index of bookshops in the back means you can quickly turn back to your favorites—provided you can remember their names! I came away with a lengthy list of bookshops I would like to visit someday, and I guarantee you will do the same.


Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • The Backlist Reader Challenge 2018

4 Responses to “The Bookshop Book by Jen Campbell”

  1. Anne

    It sounds lovely. I love to visit them. I used to buy so many print books! I love the way they smell, feel. But now I only buy digital since it is easier to read and take with me everywhere. I feel sad but it is how it is. I also always have and always will use the library heavily. I even go to libraries on vacation. I wonder if there is a book like this about libraries? That’s something I could enjoy, maybe even write myself. lol Anne – Books of My Hear
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    • Lark_Bookwyrm

      I seem to read more Kindle books than print books these days, as well… and I love print books. But you’re right; Kindle is more portable. Plus, I can read with the lights off (great when I have insomnia.) And as my eyes get older, I find books with small print harder to read; ebooks let me adjust the font. But I’m not giving up my print books, and I still love to browse through bookstores.

      A similar book on libraries sounds like a wonderful idea!

    • Lark_Bookwyrm

      It was a lot of fun. I may try to get hold of a paperback copy for reference, or at least go through the ebook and make a list of the bookshops I want to visit.