We are constantly being told that independent bookshops are a rarity, and indeed news of closures outstrips those of openings. However, there is still an astonishing creativity, professionalism and flair at work in this area and they are continuing to be beautiful, inspiring places to visit - proving as much a 'leisure attraction' as a resource or commodity.
Recently on a visit to friends in the North East, I returned to the wonderful Barter Books, a secondhand bookshop in a disused railway station in Alnwick, and made a further journey across the border to the award-winning book and giftshop, deli and cafe that is Main Street Trading Company in St Boswell's.
Both had a stunning attention to detail, decorating their spaces with more than the bookshelves. Both offered food and drink for sale, and places to sit and relax while browsing. Both made choosing a book a communal experience with displays, notices, advice. And both offered souvenirs of your visit! I couldn't resist, buying a beautiful ceramic monotone mug from each.
I think all booklovers agree that there is nothing like the pleasure, the sense of anticipation, in touching, feeling, turning the pages of a book (while not denying the resource that is the e-book).
Increasingly buying a book from a bookshop will be more than handing over cash and shoving the purchase in a plastic carrier. It will also be about selling a memory, a feeling, an experience.