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Bookshop love: Barter Books

  • Submitted: 21st August 2012

I was lucky enough to stumble upon the Barter Books at the weekend. Travelling around the Northumberland coast, I stopped off here – one of the largest second hand bookshops in Britain.

It was opened in 1991 by Mary Manley who runs the shop with her husband and is located in the old victorian station of Alnwick. And wow! What an experience they have created!

Barter Books

Imagine – book heaven – shelves and shelves of lovely old books – where you can smell history in the pages and delight at the crinkle of the covers. Now that’s not to say all books are historical artifacts – in fact most aren’t  – the books are all second hand but its often hard to tell as I picked up several novels including The Help by Kathryn Stockett, that I don’t think had been touched!

Barter books is not just a book shop. Its a book haven, a book heaven….you get the idea. Nestled in the old surroundings, it breathes history and warmth. I got the feeling each book felt honoured to spend time here on the shelves. They are divided into sections and so you need a map to navigate, which is fun in itself.I felt like a pirate looking for treasure. A map to find your way round a book shop that is housed in a station? I was ready for the adventure.

The store is full of lovely touches such as the coffee and biscuit corner complete with armchairs and an honesty box as you walk in. A roaring fire in the winter, a model railway running around the store from up above and the reading rooms – the red room, green room , blue room and my personal favourite, the old waiting room, where you can read, chill, eat, drink and relax. There’s cushions, comfy seats, a very impressive chandelier and a table with a chess board painted on. (Chess pieces are also provided)

When I first arrived, I planned to have a browse, buy a book then maybe go through to Alnwick or Beadnell to read it and relax. Instead I stayed in Barter Books for 6 hours, drank 5 cups of coffee, had 3 yummy ginger cookies, did several circuits of the store and bought 9 books.

Now I can’t wait to read my stash. I may have to hibernate. Until it’s time to get up and go back to Barter Books of course!


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