We opened our shop in July 2009. We spent months brainstorming exciting names – (my particular favourite was The Lobster Quadrille) - but decided that we wanted to be clear about what we were. We're small, we sell books and we’re in Ripon, North Yorkshire, 12 miles from Harrogate and a stone’s throw from the glorious Fountain’s Abbey.
People told us not to bother opening a bookshop. "Others have tried!" they cried. "Everyone shops online," they moaned. We knew of the difficulties we would encounter, but we had just moved to the area and thought it was sad that a Cathedral city with good schools and an educated population didn’t have an independent bookshop. We’d both been involved in the book trade before – Simon in information and supply chain management and Gill as a marketing manager for a school supplier – and we felt that we would enjoy building a bookshop in the community because...
We love books. We love the physical product the paper, the size, the colours, the titles, the words, the smell. We love the humour, the passion, the excitement of the stories (not all of them) and we love sharing this with our customers who ask for recommendations.and probably wish they hadn’t asked as we say ‘oh and there’s this one, and this one, but you wouldn’t want to miss this one.’ Our bestsellers are definitely the ones we personally love and champion.
And when I say 'we' I mean all of us. It’s a family affair with the two of us, our twin boys, Alex and Harry, who work at the weekends, and our daughters Izzy, who gives us honest feedback from around the world, and Phoebe, who can be found, most days, doing, or planning something creative for our windows. We are supported by our fabulous staff – Dianne, Bridget, Sue and two Annas – who offer their own expertise and enthusiasms. Dianne’s creative skills are often apparent in the windows - one summer we had a wonderful, yellow knitted bike in the window to celebrate the Tour de France! We're also joined by another Phoebe on Saturdays!
Our range of books is exciting and changes constantly. We work hard to balance new publications with classics and old favourites. We can't stock everything but if you are looking for a particular book and we do not have it in stock, we can usually get it by the following day. We sell beautiful cards and stationery as well as maps, literary DVDs and reading related gifts. We even offer a free gift-wrapping service (but make sure you don't ask the Gruffalo to do this - he's not very good at corners!).
Fictional Family I'd like to have been part of: I'd have enjoyed crossing the prairies with Pa and Ma Ingalls, Laura and Mary.
Literary Ship I would most like to Captain: The HMS Surprise from Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin series.
Literary Town I would like to have lived in: Middlemarch - I'd like to prevent Lydgate from marrying Rosamond.
Favourite Cookery Book: Anything by Mary Berry but especially her book "Cook Now Eat Later"
Fictional school I wish I'd attended: Moving staircases and a room of requirement? Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry - No contest.
Harry & Alex
Favourite Children's picture book:
It's a definite toss-up between 'I Want My Hat Back' and 'Thank You, Mr Panda'
A mouse tastes good on a slice of bread.
Least Favourite Food: Definitely Gruffalo Crumble
Valentino's Restaurant and
Ripon Spa Baths and Ripon Town Hall
Studley Roger and Sharow (2 miles)
Thirsk and Harrogate (10 miles)
Newcastle and Sheffield (55 miles)
Edinburgh and Cambridge (150 miles)
Londonderry and The Hague (250 miles)
Reykjavik and Rome (1,000 miles)
The Lofoten Islands and Lisbon (1,100 miles)
The North Pole and The Sahara Desert (2,500 miles)
*All distances are estimated and calculated as the crow flies.
Please do not rely on this information when planning your journey!
For more accurate directions please go to our Contact page.
The 22nd September, 2018 was the official opening day of our newly expanded shop. After nine years in number 13 Westgate, we are excited to have the chance to stretch our legs nextdoor.