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Local authors back independent bookshops

PUBLISHED: 11:17 24 December 2008 | UPDATED: 15:44 07 September 2010

LOCAL authors have thrown their weight behind the Ham&High's Keep It Local campaign to encourage readers to buy from small independent shops this Christmas. December is the most crucial time of the year for independent shops – especially bookshops – and i

LOCAL authors have thrown their weight behind the Ham&High's Keep It Local campaign to encourage readers to buy from small independent shops this Christmas.

December is the most crucial time of the year for independent shops - especially bookshops - and it is when they make most of their money.

But many across Hampstead and Highgate are on tenterhooks, hoping the Christmas rush will rid them of their credit crunch woes.

The economic downturn has caused a drop in business for all retailers. But it is small shops that are hit the hardest and they need your support to keep going.

Nobel Prize winner Doris Lessing, who lives in West Hampstead, said: "I always support bookshops. The one in West End Lane is fantastic and I would urge people to shop there.

"It is really up to us to support them. They are having a hard time so we should definitely lend our support. Independent bookshops offer something a bit more special than chain stores or the internet and I think we should all be shopping in them - especially at this time of year."

Bestselling author and South Hampstead resident Kathy Lette added: "What does a woman really want in bed? Breakfast - and a really good book.

"It's the perfect Christmas present. Not only do you get a week's worth of entertainment out of it, but you can always use it later for kindling or loo paper or simply to throw at someone annoying.

"Bookcases make excellent insulation too in a cold winter.

"And the place to buy your Chrissy book is a local independent book shop.

"Big bookshop chains are so impersonal. West End Lane books, my local, offers specialised service, hand picking appropriate tomes. Speaking of which, my latest To Love, Honour And Betray- (Till Divorce Do Us Part) would surely make anyone's Christmas more comedic. I do so hope you slip between my covers."

Independent bookshops do not have an easy time of it - competing with larger chain stores and the internet which has seen phenomenal growth in the last three years.

They cannot compete with the prices or special offers but many hope they offer something uniquely different to the larger stores.

Brett Croft, manager of Daunt Books, which has stores in Hampstead, Belsize Park and Marylebone, said: "We have been offering something very different for years and years and books are still material things that people like to browse.

"We are a browsing bookshop which is unique and not like buying from a chain bookstore or the internet.

"Customers come in to find something new that they haven't seen before and there is only one way to do that - come into the shop.

"I think there is still plenty of room for independent bookshops because we offer a unique service."

The Ham&High's Keep It Local campaign has been encouraging readers to shop on their high street this Christmas and save those independent shops without which the high streets' character would be lost forever.


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