June’s Bookshop of the Month takes us to Herefordshire to the legendary Ledbury Books and Maps, which has occupied a prominent place in Ledbury’s heart for over thirty years. With its wide range of new fiction and non-fiction books, the Ledbury Books and Maps team has a wealth of knowledge and is well-equipped to make personalised customer recommendations – even in the midst of this period of lockdown. We spoke to the shop’s manager, Lindsay, to find out more about this impressive independent bookshop.
1. When you took over Ledbury Books and Maps in 2010, what was your bookselling vision? How has the shop developed and grown over the past decade?
I’m not sure I had a vision as such – I just wanted to share my love of books. The previous owner had put about half the shop over to classical CDs. Over the next few years, I whittled that away to make room for more books! I also do a few events and run a very successful book group from the shop.
2. What has been your experience of selling maps in the GoogleMaps age? What types of maps do you find your customers are most interested in? Do you yourself have a favourite map?
Amazingly, I do sell a huge number of Ordnance Survey maps. People still like the idea of a physical map and the undiscovered places they offer. We’re very close to the Malvern Hills and the walks in the Wye Valley and the Forest of Dean are fairly close so maps of those areas are very popular. I love all kinds of maps – geological, socio-economic, landuse – I have a degree in Geography so that might be where that comes from!
3. Under normal circumstances, Ledbury itself is renown for hosting the UK’s biggest Poetry Festival – the Ledbury poetry festival. Does Ledbury Books and Maps ordinarily do anything special around this exciting event?
Ledbury has a real buzz when the Poetry Festival is on and usually the weather is glorious. I have held a few Festival events in my shop over the past few years but last year I was lucky enough to be the bookseller at all the events. We had three Poet Laureates in town as well as Margaret Atwood, which was amazing (she bought some books from me!). The shop is also the venue for various talks the Festival organises throughout the year.
4. What do you hope your shop brings to the local area – both during this period of lockdown as well as when it is business as usual?
Ledbury is a lovely little town, full of interesting independent shops so I hope I add to that mix. During lockdown, I have been out delivering books within the local area and posting further afield. Customers are still phoning up for recommendations which I love doing!
5. And finally, do you have any exciting plans for the shops in the coming months that you’d like to share with us?
Every year I say I’m going to do more events – but I mean it this time! Also, lockdown has made me rethink the types of books I buy in – and the quantities!
To find out more about Ledbury Books and Maps, visit their website!