Step into a bookshop. What do you look for? Names of authors? Some you've heard of, but many more you haven’t. Rows of spines with intriguing titles – but which one to pick up?Beautiful covers – and we do all judge them – face outwards, competing for our attention. The choice can feel overwhelming, especially with so many new books being published every year. Four million, if you include self-published authors. There can be too much of a good thing.
When the idea for The Good Book Shop began to take shape, and our tiny space was secured, I knew shelf space would be precious. Every book would have to earn its spot. Few duplicates. A tight selection, regularly rotated, thoughtfully refreshed. With all those books out there, it's a shame to deprive the good ones of the chance to find a loving home.
So whilst there was always going to be a diversity of choice, there was never a question of hierarchy. New voices sit beside established writers. None more or less important than the next. I wondered how to inspire people to pick up an author they’d never heard of. To take a chance. And I concluded that themes could help aid intuition. A new name beside an old favourite, not because of alphabetical coincidence, but because the books exist in the same world.
Bodies. Cities. Roots and Realities. Possibilities. Love of Words. Seventeen themes arrived instinctively, if not fully formed. I wanted them to be moody, intriguing, and intuitive. Finding the perfect names was a slower process requiring the brainpower of three book-loving minds.
We wanted the shop to feel like a living room, and like a home for book lovers. A sigh of relief compared to faceless corporations, or worse, the almighty algorithm. By allowing our customer’s instincts to take over, we’re hoping to offer intrigue, inspiration, and serendipity. Seeing the themes in situ, it works. We feel at home, and it sounds like our customers do too.
So, what do you think of the themes? Are there any missing? Which one do you gravitate towards?