Support independent Isle of Wight bookshops, says MP

Bob Seely says small independent bookshops provide a social hub, as well as contributing to the fabric of our town centres

bob seely and gail middleton posing in bookshop for photo

In advance of the Isle of Wight Literary Festival, MP Bob Seely has called on Islanders to support local bookshops.

Bob said that the ongoing success of the Festival showed interest in literature and reading was as strong as ever but that traditional small bookstores were increasingly coming under threat from online providers and non-specialist outlets like supermarkets.

Seely: Contributing to the fabric of our town centres
Bob said:

“It is these smaller local stores that offer not just a good selection of books, but the staff have a unique experience, knowledge and passion for books and literature.

“These shops also provide a social hub as well as contributing to the fabric of our town centres. It is too easy to browse the Internet and purchase online and forget that there are smaller independent retailers right on our doorstep that offer excellent choice and value.”

His comments were echoed by local bookstores.

Sames: Over 100,000 books in ten rooms
Mark Sames, from Ryde Bookshop in Ryde High Street, said:

“We were established in 1988, we have over 100,000 books in ten rooms on three floors. There are both second hand and new books on virtually every subject, so we are able to offer great choice and excellent value.

“Why browse virtually on the Internet when you can browse for real – and walk away there and then with your book of choice. We are open seven days a week including bank holidays.”

Norris: What’s not to like?
Margaret Norris from Books2Love in Pyle Street Newport said:

“Customers love to browse in this old-fashioned bookshop with knowledgeable staff giving a personal service and a huge selection of books both new and second-hand to choose from.

“Toasted teacakes and a variety of coffee – what’s not to like?”

Middleton: Bucking the trend in High Street demise
Gail Middleton from Mrs Middleton’s bookshop in Freshwater said:

“George Orwell wrote of his stint as a Bookseller back in 1936; ‘The combines can never be allowed to squeeze the small independent Bookseller out of existence as they have squeezed the grocer and the milkman’.

“Fortunately, the Milkman seems to be making a resurgence, and in Freshwater at least – we are bucking the trend in High Street demise, as four independent retailers have opened in the vicinity recently, joining us, the Butcher, The Baker, if not the Candlestick Maker – though Whistle and Hound next door does do Candle making workshops.”

Sklaroff: Established for more than 25 years
Les Sklaroff of Cameron House Books in Freshwater Bay said:

“Cameron House Books, established for more than 25 years, is located in the former home of Julia Margaret Cameron, the pioneer portrait photographer. 

“You will find here a wide-ranging stock of quality second-hand books in most subject areas, including archaeology, crime fiction, children’s books, poetry, photography and philosophy. 

“The main emphasis is on literature (from George Buchanan to Alice Oswald) and illustrated books (special collections include Mervyn Peake, Charles Keeping, Michael Ayrton and Eric Fraser).”

Simpson-Little: Continuing the legacy of Aldous Pembroke
Reuben Simpson-Little from Babushka Books and Framing Gallery in Regent Street, Shanklin said:

“Babushka Books was started in 1957 by eccentric book and art collector Aldous Pembroke when he opened a small lending library and gallery on the Isle of Wight. He moved to London where he specialised in the importation and sale of unusual publications and assorted curiosities. In the late 1960s as the shop was forced to close due to Pembroke’s continued distribution of banned literature.

“Since 1969 Babushka Books has been selling and inspiring in the heart of the Island. Aldous died in 1981 and the shop was kept alive by various book sellers and supporters. To this day the shop continues the legacy of Aldous Pembroke’s original Babushka Books store, working closely with local writers, poets and artists. This is the way Babushka Books will always be run.

“Recently the shop has expanded to include bespoke picture framing and was featured in Time Out magazine showcasing our devotion to restoring typewriters. We are the last remaining typewriter sale and repair shop on the Island and have sold machines all around the world.”

Major event in UK’s literary calendar
Bob also paid tribute to the IW Literary Festival which runs at Northwood House, Cowes between 10th and 13th October. 

“We are extremely fortunate to have a festival that has quickly become one of the major events in the UK’s literary calendar. This is down to the efforts of a small but dedicated and knowledgeable group of people with the support of many organisations and businesses.

“This year’s event will once again ensure reading and books continue to entertain, inspire and inform and I hope the interest in literature the event instils and stimulates will lead to even more people supporting our local bookshops.”

Full details of the Literary Festival can be found on the Website.

The latest addition to the Isle of Wight bookshop scene is Medina Books in Cowes. The new venture for Medina Publishing, specialising in literary works related to the Island, is a small, friendly book shop on the High Street.

News shared by the office of Isle of Wight Conservative MP, Robert Seely. Ed

Tuesday, 8th October, 2019 1:12pm



Filed under: Business, Island-wide, Isle of Wight News, Small Business, Top story

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5 Comments on "Support independent Isle of Wight bookshops, says MP"

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Vix Lowthion
We also need to support our local libraries by funding them properly, keeping them open throughout the week and not reliant on volunteers to keep them open. Bob Seely and the Conservative government are no friends of libraries and widening participation in reading. Great to have small local bookshops for those who can afford to buy books. But for the majority of islanders, we need to also… Read more »

Bob’s no friend of books?

But he’s clutching one, close to his heart, in the photo. Do you think he’s trying to hoodwink us all ahead of a General Election?


Yes, vote catching…

Benny C

So am I right in thinking one way the government and local authorities have supported local retail is by revaluing business rates and imposing such huge increases (by severely restricting transitional relief) that a significant number have been forced to close, just at a time when retail spend and sakes are subdued and demand for space is so low many stores are . Genius, Bob.

Jenny Smart

I think Bob is about to jump ship.

He’s holding what suspiciously looks like a little red book,