While wandering the pretty streets of Eastbourne after a day full of seagulls and candy floss, skipping pebbles and salty air, you may be caught by the urge to buy yourself a good book. Though this traditional town has kept its cool bohemian quarter somewhat a secret from the world, there are plenty of unusual things to do in Eastbourne and lots of off-beat spots to shop at, with hip vinyl stores and vegetarian cafés dotting the streets of the town’s Little Chelsea area. Heartbreakingly, over the last decade, many of the town’s independent bookshops have had to close, as bigger chains and online shops tower over smaller businesses. But bookworms need not lose heart just yet – Eastbourne still has a few wonderful tricks up its sleeve.
Here is our guide to the loveliest independent bookstores in Eastbourne, England.
Tucked in beside the independent record stores and quirky coffee shops of Eastbourne’s trendy Grove Road, you wouldn’t expect the unassuming facade of Camilla’s to stock in excess of one million books. Run by proprietors Stuart and, of course, Camilla, the charming bookshop has paperbacks piled floor-to-ceiling and is a booklover’s paradise, just asking for readers to lose themselves among the teetering towers of reference and fiction. Resident parrot Archie pops in on Tuesdays and Fridays for a sing-song.
The Oxfam Bookshop
Charity shopping is a way of life for many people in Britain, not just as the government’s austerity measures have the country tightening its belt, but because the charm of a bargainous second-hand book, mixed with the knowledge your cash is going to a good cause, is a winning combination. Eastbourne’s Oxfam Bookshop, though one of a countrywide chain, is granted its individual charm by its wonderfully eclectic mix of volunteer staff, and the variety and potential for unusual finds that regular donations afford. From travel guides to bodice-ripping period novels, you’re sure to find a book to hit the spot here.
Offering cookery classes for hopeful chefs of all ages, the bookshop at The Cookshelf is more of a side dish than the main event, but has a solid selection of cookbooks to choose from. Learn to cook your own pasta from scratch, explore vegan cuisine or study bread-making for beginners, and take home a glossy hardback of recipes with the best of intentions..
Run by husband and wife Chris Snook and Julia Galvin, Archaeology Plus is an online bookstore based in Eastbourne, specialising in books on archaeology (just in case you were wondering). One of the three largest specialty bookstores in the South East, Archaeology Plus has some 10,000 books in stock at all times, and its owners regularly attend talks and seminars on the topic at events around the country, meaning you’ll be in expert hands.
Much Ado Books
Named a favourite by award-winning children’s author Dame Jacqueline Wilson and best-selling fiction writer Joanna Trollope, the delightful Much Ado Books is a short drive from Eastbourne but should top your must-visit list nonetheless. Run by North American couple Cate Olsen and Nash Robbins, whose warmth and passion for literature are part of the store’s appeal, Much Ado Books has an excellent range of new, second-hand and antiquarian books to browse. Watch decorative bantam chickens pecking about in the yard behind the shop, and go home with an exquisitely wrapped book or notepad as the perfect memento.
The self-proclaimed ‘sunniest comic shop in the UK’ has plenty to show off about. Scorch! Comics, based at Eastbourne’s Entreprise Centre, houses upwards of 50,000 comics, including British and American publications, sci-fi, war, superheroes, horror, humour and many more. The staff are enthusiastic and don’t hesitate to help you search for the comic book you’re hunting for.