Bookshops, General book stuff, Literary North East

Five minutes with Drake The Bookshop

Drake The Bookshop is the newest indie bookshop in the North East.

Based in Stockton, it provides books (of course), opportunities to meet fellow readers and has some exciting new activities coming up.

We caught up with owner Richard to find out more about this wonderfully bookish venture in Teesside.

Tell us about Drake The Bookshop

We are a family-run independent that will be two years old on 22 September. Richard, Melanie and Matthew are the three people who can usually be found holding the tiller, though my mum and aunt have been drafted in on a few occasions to help out.

We’re a general bookshop, and we are especially proud of our family-friendly feel and children’s corner. We love our storytime sessions and indeed will accept any excuse to do spontaneous storytelling.

Drake The Bookshop is a strong community hub, with five reading groups (including a Young Bookworms and Teen Readers) as well as two groups who use our space to meet. We have some creative writing groups starting up this autumn as well.

We would like to think of ourselves as a little bit quirky. How many children’s author events do you find hosted in a pub? Not many I guess, but the 80 people who attended and Sue Hendra and Paul Linnet (the authors in question) has a great time.

Why did you want to set up an indie bookshop?

We were visiting a bookshop and café in Penrith (sadly no longer there) and, as I had become more and more frustrated with teaching, we thought “we could do that”.

As time went on and we kept revisiting the idea our son, Matthew, mentioned how we kept talking about it. So, in January 2015 I took the plunge and handed in my notice and started down the road to opening a bookshop. Our rep and friend (probably not in that order) Adrienne Burrow was a huge help in answering my many crazy questions and the rest, as they say, is history!

What’s the biggest challenge facing indie bookshops right now?

Discounting! I could get on my high horse about this (and indeed have done), but I can’t get my head around an industry that is willing to sell its flagship product for less than half price the day it is released! It seems that quite a lot of people with more clout than me think this is silly too, so maybe something will begin to change.

In the meantime we just have to try to champion the books that people have not yet heard about and offer that personal service that you don’t get in supermarkets or online.

Which book do Stockton readers ask for the most? 

Our bestseller is Holmes by Melvyn Small. It’s a series of short stories set around Baker Street in Middlesbrough under the premise that Sherlock Homes is alive and well and sleuthing in modern day ‘Boro.

Other favourites include the Oi Frog, Dog and Cat series by Kes Gray; John Nicholson’s Teesside detective series sell well as we are Stockton’s only supplier of these book by the local author. Homo Deus has been the surprise non-fiction pick this summer.

What’s next for Drake The Bookshop?

Apart from world domination you mean? Well, Bookshop Day is our 2nd birthday party so we’re looking forward to that and the author event we have on the same day.

Beyond that, lots more of the same with us continuing to find new book-loving customers in Stockton.

Having spent the first year of our life in an Enterprise Arcade where we were limited by opening times and space (these are two very small limitations of an otherwise incredible first year of support from this initiative), we’re now looking to expand the number of groups (both reading, writing and maybe other social gatherings) and the number of events.

We would also like to get more involved with events that are touring. Stockton really isn’t off the beaten track and certainly isn’t that far from London. If we can introduce more authors (and publishers) to the joys of the North East of the country we would be thrilled!

Find out more about Drake The Bookshop on its website. 

Feature pic credit: The Bookseller

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