The Winchester Bookshop has been in Winchester for nearly 30 years and is run today by a group of enthusiastic booksellers who between them have a wide range of knowledge and experience of all the subjects on offer. We talk to one of the booksellers, Anne-Louise Barton, who joined the team nine years ago to hear what it’s like to work at The Winchester Bookshop.
I joined the business following in the footsteps of my father, who was one of the original book dealers when the business first began in 1991. It was then that an enterprising Michael Green, who ran a successful newsagents in Parchment Street, invited three book selling colleagues to join him in starting up a secondhand bookshop in premises just round the corner in St George’s Street.
We have three floors of books covering a wide range of subjects, with a ground floor of mainly antiquarian books. A frequently asked question is ‘How old is your oldest book?’ The oldest one I have found so far is 1658. There are not many retail establishments that have stock with an age range of over three hundred years! Our price range is pretty wide too, from an outside cupboard where you will find bargains from 50p to £1 for paperbacks, to affordable editions of Shakespeare, Dickens and Jane Austen through to more expensive and collectable volumes. So we like to think there is something for everyone. If you cant find it in our store we can also search for out of print titles. We have a beautiful stock of vintage prints and magazines, ephemera and maps too.
I think what customers love about secondhand bookshops is the anticipation of not knowing what might be found amongst the shelves. It may be something they once owned as a child, or perhaps a writer or artist they have not come across before. Or it could be another book to add to a collection on a favourite subject.
Regret of not buying that unusual and perhaps scarce secondhand book when you see it can be a terrible thing!
We feel we offer something different and unique, and that is what I enjoy about being a bookseller of secondhand books. You never know who is going to pop in or what they might be looking for, or what books might turn up for sale. It’s encouraging to see students come in having heard about the shop from friends, or a young child happy to be browsing through vintage books. That gives me hope for the future of secondhand books and bookshops.
We are currently limiting numbers of customers into the shop, and with the regular cleaning of touch-points and provision of sanitiser, are ensuring that shopping and browsing at the Winchester Bookshop remains safe for all our customers and staff.