Storysmith Bookshop based in Bristol has specially curated lists breaking away from usual bookshop categories, such as the books featuring important cat’s distinction. As you browse these unique lists you can also enjoy delicious coffee and cakes served by the bookshop. In celebration of Independent Bookshop Week, Comma Press spoke with Dan, co-owner of Storysmith Bookshop.

Q: How did Storysmith get started as a bookshop?

A: We (Emily and Dan) opened the shop in October 2018, after a year of location scouting in Bristol and general planning/loan applying/daydreaming. Emily worked in children’s publishing for 10 years, and Dan worked as a journalist, but we’d always harboured a dream of opening a bookshop curated specifically to our own tastes and inspired by the brilliant independent bookshops around us in South East London. Still can’t really believe it worked!

Q: Can you share some pinnacle moments in the history of this bookshop?

A: Our favourite memories are usually tied to events we’ve held in the shop, inevitably. Rebecca Tamas cast a penis hex on her audience, for example, which will definitely stay with us for a long time. There are more obvious pinnacle moments like making it onto awards shortlists or bagging an author we love for an event, but to be honest, we’re lucky enough to have little pinnacle moments every day – someone feeding back about the book we recommended to them last week, someone rediscovering reading as a necessary activity, or just a nice comment about the shop. We welcome all little pinnacle moments!

Q: What makes Storysmith unique?

A: Hopefully it’s our curation and our openness. We encourage wide reading, but we also believe that wide reading shouldn’t impact on quality. There are stunning and revelatory books from all corners of society (and outside it too), and our job is to funnel the good stuff directly onto our shelves and tables – ideally that sense of curation is clear in everything we do.

Q: Why do you think bookshops are important?

A: Let’s be clear on this: your local bookseller is as vital to the health of the community as the greengrocer or the publican. Books are a necessary indulgence and your local bookseller is best placed to administer it for you. The conversations we have in bookshops and the discoveries we make can tell you so much about the surrounding area: its reading habits, the issues that affect the community, and obviously their taste in books. Bookshops are vital spaces we don’t always realise we need.

Q: What do you love most about Storysmith?

A: The customers! Our regulars give us such joy, and catching up with them as we discuss the book they last read is a huge part of what we do. There are also excellent perks to running your own bookshop – you get to tyrannically control each creative decision about your stock, there’s a coffee machine, and every day is bring-your-dog-to-work day.

photo credit: Jon Craig

You can shop for books at Storysmith directly from their online shop: Shop – Storysmith (storysmithbooks.com)

By Khadisha Thomas

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