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Battle of the Bookshops: The Book Case in Hebden Bridge

6th Aug 2010

The Book Case Hebden Bridge

This weekend I took a road trip with my Mum to Hebden Bridge, to eat fish and chips in the rain, pay a visit to Sylvia Plath’s grave in Heptonstall village and have a nosey at The Book Case. I’d only recently heard about this independent bookshop, and the opportunity to combine a day trip with book browsing is never something I pass up. For years, friends have told me how beautiful Hebden Bridge is, and I’m slightly ashamed to say this was my first ever visit. I’m now campaigning hard for my Mum to move there…

Currently celebrating ‘500 years of creativity’ (and 500 hundred years of the namesake bridge), this West Yorkshire town is bloody marvellous: arts events a-plenty, scenic canal-side walks, streets lined with independent traders – grocers, cafés , bookshops, florists – and more charity shops than you can shake a stick at, people actually stopping to say hello to each other, a pub with an 80s night called ‘Pretty in Pink’… Perfect! Hebden Bridge has long been known for its unique community spirit and welcoming attitude and The Book Case, like Hebden, is a bit special.

Trading since 1984, this independent store isn’t a sprawling multi-floor affair, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in charm. The in-store stock is varied – fiction, classics, children’s, travel and an excellent selection of local history books. If you can’t find what you need, there’s an ordering service – I got a free magnet with this info on, so temptation is doubled every time I go to the fridge! But whilst I was in there I caught a glimpse of what might be the shop’s biggest draw: the staff. I was only there for about 10 minutes, but during that time a couple of people stopped by asking about hard to find or out-of-print books; the staff seem very knowledgeable and in possession of that curiosity and passion for books that means they are happy to take time out to talk to customers or go the extra mile to seek out a rarity. The lady on the till even recognised someone walking past and popped her head out to ask how they’d been and chat about some books they had bought. The Book Case also does a lot to support the community and showcase local talent, featuring local authors, publishers and events on their website.

So, that’s the lowdown. But this is a bookshop that keeps on giving. I picked up a copy of Maps and Legends by Michael Chabon and a big red “Go Away, I’m Reading” bag (if you’re in London, you’ll have the chance to win the exact same one if you come to our pub quiz event next Thursday). I was more than happy with my treats, but because I’d spent over £10, I also got one of these lovely cotton bags for free:

The Book Case bag

You can send pictures in to the website of you on holiday with your bag, with the best entries winning goodies. If you’ve any suggestions of what adventures mine should accompany me on, then please let me know in the comments!

You can follow The Book Case on Twitter, check out the website or even better, pop in to: The Book Case, 29 Market Street, Hebden Bridge.

Any if you have any recommendations of other independent bookshops we should be featuring in our weekly Battle of the Bookshops feature, then email us or tell us your favourites in the comments.

Post by Alex Herod

Comments

  • Kate says:

    I love this feature, even though it makes me feel sad at the thought of all the beautiful bookshops I’ll probably never see!

    May I suggest another candidate? Much Ado Books in Alfriston in Sussex. I was there yesterday, while visiting my parents, and it’s an absolutely gorgeous shop. The fittings are all light wood and it lives over several levels with a garden at the back, which makes exploring it a pleasure in itself. The selection of new books is fairly compact but very well chosen. Scanning their fiction section I saw a huge number of books which I love, which made me confident that I had a good chance of liking many of the books I didn’t already know.

    They’re also one of the few dedicated stockists of my favourite published, Persephone, and half of the shop is given over to an eclectic selection of second hand volumes. There’s a busy noticeboard with talks and events being advertised, and it seems to function as something of a community hub in a small village.

    I always visit whenever I’m in Sussex, and always come away with armfuls of books. It’s partly because I want to support a true independent bookshop and partly because it’s impossible to resist. Yesterday I also came away with a mouthful of delicious home-made lavender shortbread which I was offered at the till…

    Looking back on this, I think it reads a bit like I’m a shill for the shop but I honestly am just a happy customer. Anyway, it’s one I hope you might like to consider…I shall look forward to reading about wherever you choose to go next!

    • Jane Bradley says:

      Thanks so much for the suggestion Kate, I’m a massive fan of Persephone books so this one’s sounding like it would tick all my boxes! We’ll investigate and try to get it featured on the site soon…

  • Alex Herod says:

    Hi Kate,

    Thanks for the tip – Much Ado Books sounds lovely – I especially like the idea of a bookshop with a garden… For Books’ Sake day trip?… So very tempting.

  • Ann says:

    Hi there, do you by any chance have this book:- A Laureate’s Landscape: Walks Around Ted Hughes’ Mytholmroyd?