On my return from holiday I got the sad news that the wonderful England's Lane Books will be no more.
High rents and rates, other popular bookshops nearby and a low footfall, as well as the decline in sales of physical books all contributed to the decision to close down this locally loved independent bookshop. I will mourn it for a long time, not only for the wonderful time I had working there, but also for the changing times a closure like this signifies.
I myself use a Kindle to read many books now, and only really buy hardbacks or special editions of paper backs. So I can see how it's no wonder small independent bookshops fail.
I do still harbour a dream that if an indy bookshop is in the right place (busy shopping street with no other bookshops around), and, if you combine book selling with a busy schedule of events, community projects and effective online (Twitter rules!) and a local marketing campaign, as well as possibly a coffee shop, the venture would succeed. Dream on, you may say.
Anyway, here's a sad farewell to my favourite bookshop. The doors will close at the end of July. If you possibly can, go and visit England's Lane Books before it goes. They are selling all the stock at huge discounts - you never know you might find that rare book you couldn't get anywhere at England's Lane for a pound!
But there is some good news. Even though England's Lane Books will close, it's sister shop, West End Lane Books is thriving. There you will find much of the similarly varied stock of books, and a large children's section. They also run monthly book groups, have regular author readings and friendly and helpful staff. And it's only a bus ride away from England's Lane in West Hampstead.
Life and book selling goes on!