On the way from Durham to Manchester we stop off for an hour at Drake’s Bookshop in Silver Street, Stockton-on-Tees.
I’m always keen to support independent book shops. Waterstones has made a crucial contribution to having books on sale in the High St. and there is no paradox between lauding their efforts and supporting the Indie’s.
It’s Amazon that poses the biggest threat to retail sales but after a difficult few years book shop sales are on the up. Richard and Mel have run Drake’s for three years in two Stockton venues. Now well established in Silver St. there is tea brewing and coffee on tap when we arrive. I enjoy a happy hour talking to some wonderful people all of whom seem to know each other. A probation officer tells me how tough the job has become; the Deputy Leader of the Council fills me in on local political issues (my old friend Alex Cunningham is a hard working and popular MP here) and the mother of an eight month old boy asks me to sign a book for him – my youngest reader!