Of course there are other ways of getting books. New ones are readily available online, sometime cheaper than in shops. But there’s a hidden cost: between 1995 and 2016 the number of independent sellers of new (rather than second-hand) books in the UK more than halved – from 1,894 to 867. Things have picked up slightly since, as people perhaps recognise the threat, and bookshops become more innovative (a licensed bookshop in Pinner, a community-run bookshop in Wymondham). But we have only four (in Diss, Halesworth, Beccles and Southwold) and we don’t want to lose any of them.
There is, controversially, a fifth. Southwold Books is actually part of Waterstones, the dominant UK chain. We didn’t include it in our directory to begin with. Some claim the shop is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Others see it as an asset – including, not surprisingly, the manager. ‘In reality we have more autonomy, as we don’t have to operate under the ‘constraints’ of the Waterstones branding and are encouraged to work independently of the rest of the company, with a view to Southwold Books having a look and feel and range of stock that you wouldn’t find in other branches.’ Anyway, we have relented and now include it – for better or worse (let us know if you disagree).
There are other chain bookshops as well of course, WH Smith as well as Waterstones – in Diss, Beccles, Great Yarmouth, and Lowestoft. It’s up to you, but we haven’t included them in our directory.
Second-hand bookshops, too, have suffered, at least partly through competition via the internet. There are no official figures, but our research suggests that there are perhaps half what there used to be along the Waveney and Blyth. The other competition comes from charity shops, whose overheads are lower. The word from the trade is: give to Oxfam but buy from bookshops. All the second-hand bookshops listed have books of all sorts – fiction and non-fiction. Some also have specialities, which are listed here.
Diss Publishing bookshop is a locally run business, incorporated in 1925 and established in 1864, offering a variety of books, stationery, gifts etc to the local community and surrounding areas of this South Norfolk market town. Situated in the heart of Mere Street we also welcome customers to our warm and friendly coffee shop. We can offer you a wide selection of goods at the best possible prices available to us. Offering you an ‘old-fashioned’ service so you never have to be afraid to ask for help, at the Diss Publishing Bookshop the customer always comes first. Signings and other events listed on website.
Mere’s Mouth , Mere Street IP22 4AH . Tel 01379 644612
We are well stocked with a wide range of fiction, maps, cookery books, travel guides and an impressive selection of local books. The children’s department caters for all ages and reading abilities has a magnificent Where the Wild Things Are mural and hosts regular story-telling and craft sessions. Check out our Facebook page (Halesworth Book Shop) for details of upcoming events, for both children and adults. There is also a large choice of greeting cards, postcards, notebooks, gift-wrap and other stationery goods with items. We also offer an efficient ordering service for new and second-hand books, DVDs and CDs.
42 Thoroughfare IP19 8AR. Tel 01986 873840
Mon-Sat 9-5 (4 on Sat)
Beccles Books is the place for quality books at bargain prices. Founded in 2011, we have thousands of titles in stock, most at least 50% off the recommended retail price, and offer the very best in customer service to help you find what you need. We can get order in most new books by the next working day. As well as books, we have a wide range of cards and notebooks, specialising in the beautiful local products produced by Green Pebble Cards as well as Love Country Emma Ball and many more. We are a one-stop destination for books, cards, DVDs and much, much more.
Exchange Square NR34 9HH. Tel 01502 716806
Southwold Books is part of the Waterstones family, but operates with the ethos of an independent shop. Housed in the beautiful Olde Bank House, that dates back to the 18th century, the bookshop aims to reflect the eclectic and artistic heritage of this special part of the world. We stock a broad range of titles, from local interest and literary fiction and non-fiction to a packed children’s department at the rear of the shop. We have a thriving book group and we hold literary signings and events throughout the year.
69 High St, Southwold IP18 6DS. Tel 01502 722873
Mon-Fri 9.30-6 (5.30 in winter)
Sun 10-5 (4.30 in winter)
Wells of Southwold
Modest stock of books; music also
4-6 Queen Street, Southwold IP18 6EQ. Tel 01502 723906
Mon, Tue, Thu, Fri, Sat 11-4
‘Second hand books are wild books, homeless books; they have come together in vast flocks of variegated feather, and have a charm which the domesticated volumes of the library lack.’ ― Virginia Woolf
Ann Green Halesworth
Almshouses, 2 Steeple End, Halesworth IP19 8LL. Tel 01986 874447
Tue, Wed, Fri, Sat 10-4
Local, military, transport, craft, spiritual
Olland Bookshop Bungay
22 Upper Olland Street,Bungay NR35 1BH. Tel 01986 894026
Books, CDs, vinyl and DVDs
Besleys Books Beccles
4 Blyburgate, Beccles NR34 9TA. Tel 01502 715762
Mon, Tue, Thu, Fri, Sat 9.30-5
Antiquarian, Norfolk and Suffolk private press books
Barnabees Books Westleton
Yoxford Road, Westleton IP17 3AF. Tel 07456 609790
Chapel Books Westleton
The Street, Westleton IP17 3AA. Tel 01728 648616
All week 12-5 (longer in summer)
Books and vinyl
The Book Shop Great Yarmouth
Victoria Arcade, Great Yarmouth NR30 2NU. Tel 07426 039920
Mon-Sat 10-4 (Some Sundays and longer hours in summer)
Military, art, classics
Othello’s Bookshop Lowestoft
9 Bevan Street East,Lowestoft NR32 2AA. Tel 01502 500229 or 07710 764175
Mainly non-fiction, military