Author Jen Campbell explores the quirky world of bookshops

Author Jen Campbell.
Author Jen Campbell.
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THE weird and wonderful world of bookshops proved to be a real page turner for a Sunderland author.

Jen Campbell unearths some of the globe’s most quirky bookshops, from a one-book bookshop to a bookshop on a barge, for her new non-fiction work, The Bookshop Book.

The 27-year-old, from Cleadon, has already had success with Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops which was a Sunday Times bestseller, but now she has turned her attention to the booksellers themselves.

She’s been inspired by her time spent working in bookshops and interviewing top authors including Ian Rankin, Tracy Chevalier and Jacqueline Wilson about their favourite places to pick up a novel.

Jen, a former Whitburn School pupil, said: “I actually started this book in 2011 before Weird Things, which only focused on the weird things customers say. I wanted to show that there are some amazing booksellers out there too.

“Like a bookshop in Mongolia, run by a French guy, who sells books to herders of the Altai mountains, a book barge run by a girl named Sarah who sails canals of the UK, to a one book bookshop in Arizona. No one would publish this man’s book, so he self-published it and opened a bookshop which only sells his book. I like his dedication.”

Jen, who now lives in North London, added: “I’ve worked in bookshops for seven years now, with new and old books, in England and in Scotland, and find them to be magical places, instilling a sense of wonder and adventure in children, and offering a haven in a busy world for all of us to stop and think.”

The author and poet recalls how lessons with former teacher Mr Binz at Cleadon Primary School helped inspire her passion for penning her own stories.

“I’ve written since I was little girl,” she said. “I remember writing really late at night on a really loud typewriter and writing a story about my dead hamster and sending it to Penguin, asking if they could publish it before Christmas.

“They wrote a very polite letter back, but they didn’t publish it.”

•The Bookshop Book is out now priced £12.99.

Win a copy

We’ve teamed up with publishers Constable to give away five copies of The Bookshop Book. To be in with a chance of winning, answer this question: where did Jen grow up?




Email your answer and details to Closing date: October 15.