Indie Bookshop Week: Q&A With Dan from Storysmith

Posted on May 3, 2022 in South West

In the run-up to Independent Bookshop Week (June 15th – mark your calendars!), we spoke to Dan from Storysmith about our shared love of indie bookshops and what exciting things Storysmith have going on this year!

  1. We love our indie bookshops because they each bring their own personality to bookselling and the wider book community – what it is that you think makes Storysmith special? Is there anything that you want to shout about (awards, or just things that you do that are really great!)

Hopefully what makes us special is our curation and the (very skeptical of using this word too seriously) ‘experience’ of being in the shop itself. We always wanted the shop to feel like an extension of our own tastes and enthusiasms as booksellers, rather than just stuff it with bestsellers you can almost certainly pick up in the supermarket. It makes for much more interesting conversations in the shop and we know that customers come to us specifically for that – to be tempted and engaged by a book they haven’t seen before and to talk to someone who really understands why it might be their new favourite. 

We moved premises in November to a much larger shop (still on our beloved North Street) and the amount of building work required was pretty substantial, which gave us a real one-off opportunity to design our perfect bookshop right from the bare bones of the building. As a result, we think the space is really unique – full of little design quirks that make browsing that bit easier and more intuitive. There’s nothing we love more than seeing customers sipping on coffee while they have a sweet browse of genuinely exploratory literature.

And obviously, our amazing small team of booksellers makes the shop completely unique besides the curation and the space. We’re so fortunate to have such eager and adventurous readers on staff – they’re a constant source of new recommendations and the highest quality book chat (guaranteed). Also our shop dog Roy. He makes everything special.

  1. You’ve got a great school initiative, book subscription and events schedule – is there anything in particular that you’ve got coming up that you’re really excited about and would like to highlight? 

This year is all about events! Unlike a lot of bookshops, we decided not to attempt any online events at all during the pandemic – we just felt the magic of our events was in actually being there and actively engaging, not watching it on a screen. Now that circumstances are a bit more conducive we’ve really focused on bringing amazing authors to our city (specifically to our shop), and we’ve managed to bag some of our all-time favourites – already this year we’ve had Deborah Levy, Max Porter, Ralf Webb and more wowing our customers with their wit and general writerly prowess in the shop, and very soon we’ll be welcoming Candice Carty-Williams, Natasha Brown, Tom Cox, Fernanda Melchor (holy sh*t everyone needs to read Paradais), Jessica Andrews and hopefully many more to be announced…

  1. Your lists of literary distinctions really highlight the variety of titles you’ve got on offer – is there any title, series, theme or something else that you’re loving promoting at the moment? Or perhaps an area which you’d love to explore further?

Thank you for highlighting what is definitely our nerdiest area! Perhaps predictably we’re working our way through geographical territories, but we’re always open to following a weird impulse (hence lists on literary cats, millennial ennui etc). We just dropped a list featuring select titles from some of our very favourite small presses, which we loved compiling – it’s such a big part of what we do as booksellers, so we take any opportunity we can to trumpet the virtues of books and publishers who might not always make it to the tables of the major high street bookshops. And four books we’re loving in the shop at the moment – Chilean Poet by Alejandro Zambra, Ruth & Pen by Emilie Pine (this was our subscription book for May!), Paradais by Fernanda Melchor, and Seven Steeples by Sara Baume.