Interview: Lindum Books

When you enter Lindum Books, the little independent bookshop in Lincoln’s Bailgate, you can’t help but want to sit down in the cosy chair in the back of the shop and dive straight into another world. Owner Sasha Drennan talked to me about the shop – and, of course, books.

How did Lindum Books start?

I’ve always been a veracious reader and had been thinking about running my own business for years, so when I got made redundant, I decided to combine that and open a bookshop. The shop will be three years old in April, and I haven’t regretted it a single second.

What is the best and the worst thing about owning the shop?

The best thing is that I can do everything my way. And there’s also the huge satisfaction of sending someone away with a book you think they’re going to love.

Ironically, now that I have a bookshop, I have very little time to read anything. That’s horrible! It’s wonderful and satisfying to own an entire shop full of books, though.

Why did you choose a location in the Cathedral Quarter?

In order for the business to work, it needed to be up here. There are so many visitors, and, much as we don’t like to admit it, there’s a divide between the people who live and work and shop downhill and those who live and work and shop uphill. Uphill is wealthier, and more likely to spend money on culture. I’m an independent bookseller and can’t afford to discount books. I use the same suppliers as all the chains, but they get much bigger trade discounts for buying in huge quantities, so I simply wouldn’t be able to compete downhill.

What distinguishes Lindum Books from other book shops?

We can’t compete on price, so we compete on the experience and service. For example, we can get books for our customers that large chain booksellers such as Waterstones perhaps can’t. They have a corporate buying hub who choose what the chain stocks. Store managers can request books for their individual stores, but the corporate buyers don’t always agree. We, by contrast, can get you anything available in print in Britain.

You sell second-hand and new books. How do you get the second-hand books?

Most of our second-hand stock gets donated to us. Many people have their houses filled with books, and if they want or need to clear out, it’s quite difficult these days. Ebay and Amazon Marketplace aren’t for everyone, and charity shops are getting quite picky as to what and how much they will take. We take everything that’s not mouldy or really falling to bits. I’ve literally had house-loads of books coming.

You regularly host events at the shop. Why?

It was a condition of Gill, one of my employees, to come and work for me. We both think it’s very important to get authors and readers together. People who love reading books love meeting the people who write them, it’s almost like meeting you favourite music or movie star. And it brings literature to life. It shows that it’s kind of a living, breathing thing, that there is a human being behind every story. We’ve had big names come and do events with us, like Joanne Harris and Kate Morton, but also local authors. People seem to like this mix very much.

In 2016, print sales went up by seven % in the UK. Was that visible here at the shop too?

Yes. I think it’s because publishers finally seem to have realised that if they still want to sell physical books, they have to make the physical copy worth owning. For a long time, there’s been little effort made to make books look lovely. Now, there are so many incredibly beautifully designed books – you look at them, and you want to own them. A lot of our customers say they have a Kindle but aren’t really using it anymore because they’d rather have physical copies.

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