Manchester’s literary landscape is as vibrant as ever
DESPITE dwindling bookstores nationwide and the persistent threat of online giants like Amazon breathing down booksellers’ necks, Manchester bibliophiles need not worry as there are nevertheless still plenty to go at. From hidden gems like Sharston Books to the high street delights of Waterstones, here’s our handy guide to the best of the bunch.
One of the city’s newest additions, having opened in April this year, Chapter One has already gained a following in its Northern Quarter homeland and its quirky, dynamic approach to bookselling is fast garnering citywide popularity.
With contemporary wooden panels and a contrasting vintage aesthetic created through quaint typewriter booths and antique style furniture, that the store is a labour of love for sister owners Christine Cafun and Lyndsy Kirkman is immediately apparent and the cafe is no less welcoming, with a myriad of sweet treats to munch on while you indulge your inner bookworm.
Topping it off are frequent literary events and a host of more unusual titles, alongside mainstream bestsellers, you’d be otherwise hard pressed to find. Fast becoming a cultural and community icon, this is one to watch.
Best feature: Typewriter booths to get those creative juices flowing
Chapter One, 19 Lever Street, M1 1BY
THE DIDSBURY VILLAGE BOOKSHOP
Tucked away directly behind bustling cafe bar The Art of Tea, here books and culinary delights complement one another perfectly. The synthesis has proved popular with staff and customers alike, owner Bob enjoying a steady stream of hot chocolates and visitors benefitting from the twin joys of lunching and literature under one roof.
A retired professor, the second hand bookstore is now Bob’s full time hobby and his passion for the written word shines through. As a result of over 90% of stock being bought through people coming in to sell their old tomes, his collection is extensive and full of character; expect to find everything from beautifully bound Persian poetry to old British classics to contemporary foreign fiction.
Whilst prone to random outbursts of favourite musician Frank Sinatra, you can also expect Bob to give you personalised knowledge with a sprinkling of wry humour.
Best feature: Owner Bob to slake your literary thirst
Didsbury Village Bookshop, Inside The Art of Tea, 47 Barlow Moor Road, M20 6TW
Prior to visiting, people often confuse this with a second hand store but actually the stock is new. Current bestsellers are guaranteed, along with many other titles arranged by genre and a great selection of related merchandise such as Paperblank notebooks and fun 3D bookmarks.
Spacious and tasteful, the bookstore also includes a great children’s area complete with toys so harassed parents can browse in peace. With discounted titles a common occurrence, there is many a bargain to be had, and a helpful bookseller is never far away.
Threatened with closure last year due to the proposal of a new bar next door, the family favourite remains after hundreds turned up to protest and its position as a valued venue for the Chorlton commune was truly cemented. Quite right too.
Best feature: Easy navigation to find just what you’re looking for
Chorlton Bookshop, 506 Wilbraham Road, M21 9AW
Ok, perhaps it’s a bit of an obvious one but Tim Waterstone’s brainchild has changed considerably since it opened in 1982 and, in a bid to keep up with the rapid pace of publishing, has developed several initiatives that ensure the nationwide old timer stays firmly in the present.
Perhaps most notable is the recent ‘no one size fits all’ concept. Whereas in times past, chains across the UK were pretty much standard, now customers can expect a more localised approach; from serving local produce in the store’s Cafe W to stocking more titles from independent publishers.
Stores are still are as conducive to browsing as ever, with snug seats galore and loads of passionate staff at hand, but customers can expect more going on; for example, frequent author events and a weekly book club.
Best feature: Comfy chairs to sit back and relax with your perfect read.
91 Deansgate, M3 2BW /Arndale, Market Street, M4 3AQ
This bookish bonanza might look like an uninspiring warehouse at first glance but peer beneath the surface and you’ll see why that old adage of not judging by covers rings so true. Venture inside to find an interior crammed full of treasures in art, literature, history, drama and popular science; plus magazines, translations and no doubt anything else you can imagine.
Extensive biography and fiction sections occupy shipping containers outside and, if you can’t make the trip down, worry not as the ordering system is very comprehensive.
This place makes no pretences but, with such a dizzying inventory, it doesn’t have to.
Best feature: Over 40,000 titles to order direct or online
Sharston Books, Unit 15 Wearlee Works, Longley Lane, Sharston, M22 4WT