What is it that makes an independent bookshop truly great? Personal recommendations, community atmosphere and lots of good conversations – at their best, indies are the beating heart of the bookselling industry.
In this new series, Penguin.co.uk will be speaking to staff from independent bookshops from across the country, gleaning the stories and tips that keep customers coming back.
This week, meet Layla, bookseller from Round Table Books in Brixton, South London, to hear about the shop, the books it sells and the stories that are told there.
How would you describe your bookshop?
We are an inclusive bookshop, and are dedicated to selling and championing books with diverse characters. We also make sure that our shop is a safe space for all who come and visit us, and for all kids who come to us for book buying advice.
What’s your go-to book recommendation for a gift?
For a gift, my go-to is currently Exceptional Men in Black History by Vashti Harrison. It's a superb book, and perfect for ages 8+. Kids will be able to learn about many Black men in history, and it looks beautiful on a bookshelf! There's also an equivalent for women, Bold Women in Black History.
What’s your favourite story from behind the till?
There are so many, and every day gives us a new story. One of my personal favourites is seeing the reaction of a parent who came into the shop and cried due to seeing the representation on the covers of the books we sell. She was overwhelmed with seeing that there were books she could buy her daughter that she never had herself as a child, and heartwarming stories like that always make my day.
Which forthcoming book are you most excited to put on the shelves?
There are so many amazing titles coming out soon, but I'm particularly excited for My Dad Is A Grizzly Bear by Swapna Haddow and Dapo Adeola. It's not out until next year as it was pushed back, but I really can't wait for such a delightful sounding book!
Even after a day of being surrounded by books, which book do you never tire of reading?
That would definitely have to be Heartstopper by Alice Oseman. I've read it countless times, but the book still brings a smile to my face. It's a wonderful book!