Coventry and the surrounding areas have many independent bookstores, all bursting with character and a wealth of both new and second-hand books. So put the Kindle down and leaf through the physical pages.
Having celebrated their third birthday in October 2017, The Big Comfy Bookshop is not only home to thousands of second-hand books, but a café and licensed bar serving fresh lunches, homemade cakes and beverages. You can keep up to date with the news and events of the shop which include acoustic sessions, writers’ groups and a book club. One of the advantages of choosing an independent bookshop is the level of personal involvement from the staff, and The Big Comfy Bookshop’s ‘book subscription’ service certainly demonstrates this. For just £5 per month, or £58 per year, a member of staff will choose a book in your preferred category which will be delivered straight to your door.
Warwick Books enjoys the title of being the only independent bookstore in Warwick. On the first floor, the sofas provide comfort while you flick through various genres including poetry, sport, health, fiction, travel and history. Their website even says you can ‘enjoy a complimentary tea or coffee’. Are you stuck on what to read next? Warwick Books recommends titles through personal, handwritten reviews from their staff, which has proved to be a favourite with customers. On the other hand, if you know exactly what you’re looking for and can’t find it, they can order any British book in print.
Astley Book Farm is situated in Bedworth, a twenty-minute drive from Coventry’s city centre. The bookstore boasts 75,000 books, making it the largest second-hand bookshop in the Midlands. For those who love a rummage, a visit to The Ten Bob Barn, where the books (a mix of fiction and nonfiction) are shelved, but not sorted into categories or alphabetised, is a must. Best of all, every book is just 50p, meaning the Barn is the perfect place to find a hidden gem. If you need a refreshment after browsing, attached to the bookshop is a coffee shop and dog-friendly garden where you can enjoy sandwiches, soup, beer, wine and prosecco.
This second-hand bookshop in Kenilworth works on a non-profit basis to ‘keep books accessible and affordable to people of all ages’. The Tree House Bookshop offers a subscription service, Box of Treasures, where you receive a book, a bookmark, and other goodies which change monthly. At just £10 a month, or a one-off payment of £12 for one box, this is the perfect way to find your new favourite book. There are two monthly book clubs and art lectures are given most Tuesdays. The store also offers a ‘Mindful Meditation’ evening by an instructor on irregular Monday evenings, and host a weekly craft club for a small fee which includes tea and often cake.
John Richards specialises in the rebinding and conservation of old books, and has won The Society of Bookbinders International award for his conservation of books in both 2007 and 2015. However, he also sells books from his store, including rare and signed first editions.