How to Survive the Bookshop Crawl

Updated: Feb 7, 2020

This is a guest post and the penultimate in our little pre-London Bookshop Crawl 2018 series. We hope they've been helpful to you in planning your bookshop crawl weekend. This post has been updated ahead of the 2020 London Bookshop Crawl.

This post was guest written for us by my very good friend Laura of Devouring Texts. She's been part of the bookshop crawl since the beginning and she and another good friend of ours Katie are part of the reason I had the guts to give the bookshop crawl idea a go in the first place.

I have never in my life found an even that is better suited to me than the Bookshop Crawl. I’m lucky enough to have been to both London Bookshop Crawls, as well as the two summer Bookshop Crawls in Bath and Oxford, and they have been real highlights of the last couple of years. I’m even lucky enough to have been on some much smaller scale Bookshop Crawls with Bex (our fearless leader!), Katie, and a whole host of assorted internet folk, because what else would book bloggers do when they meet in real life? Exactly.

With that in mind, I consider myself uniquely qualified to give Bookshop Crawl advice. Everything you’ve never thought of, and would never have cared enough to ask, I’m here as a veteran to answer all your unasked questions! Important note: This advice can be applied to any Bookshop Crawl journey you may undertake, but let’s start with the London one, shall we?

  • Prepare yourself: You know what’s unpredictable in England? The weather. In February, it’s especially important to be ready for rain, but even in August it can rain- amiright, Oxford Bookshop Crawlers? So, don’t forget your umbrellas, load up with tote bags (the bookshop crawl exclusive one is particularly good - Bex) to avoid those pesky 5p charges and prepare yourself in any other way/s you see fit. I recommend a good nights sleep and comfy shoes, but you do you, people. I also find that the twitter chats Bex runs not long before the crawl are an especially good way to prepare for the day, amping up the excitement by chatting with likeminded folks. (this years' one is on Sunday 16th Feb at 8pm using #LondonBookshopCrawl - do join us!)

  • Don’t worry about the social part: Ok, so if you’re bookshop crawling with a couple of buds, you should probably talk to them. If you’re joining a crawl where you don’t really know anybody, then you can pretty much talk as little or as much as you like. My shy booklovers, I feel ya, and there’s no obligation to talk to anyone if you don’t want to, we’re cool with it. Basically, if you’re mostly there for the books, fab; if you’re mostly there to talk books, also fab. I mostly rock up to buy an obscene amount of books, and to lovingly annoy Bex, but sometimes book recommendations just fall out of my mouth because, like most bookshop crawlers I have encountered, I just can’t help myself.

  • Don’t worry about budget… Or maybe do. It depends: Because this is helpful advice… Ok, when it comes to money, literally all I can do is advise on what I do, which is probably nothing sensible. For me, the Bookshop Crawl is the first time all year I buy books, which helps me justify spending more than I would normally do. I also save my small change all year and use that to avoid spending too much of my January pay, but other than that I’m pretty lenient with myself because hey, I work hard and I’m supporting indie business! I am hyper aware that my situation may not be your situation, and I feel pretty lucky not to have too many ‘grown up’ responsibilities, so I beg of you, exercise caution and make sure you leave the crawl still able to afford to eat for the rest of the month etc etc.

  • Do your own thing: Much with your budget, much with your level of social interaction, when buying books, do your own thing! Only want to buy one book? Buy that one book and treasure it! Want to take every recommendation? Buy those 10 books and bring someone strong with you to carry them! Want to buy zero books and just buy cake? Do that, we’ll still be happy to have you along! Essentially, there is no wrong way to bookshop crawl, as long as you’re enjoying yourself, and getting all nerdy about books.

So, there you have it. A guide to the Bookshop Crawl that will help approximately no one, but hopefully captures some of the joy that is the Bookshop Crawl. Essentially, the only way you can do it wrong is by not visiting any bookshops, and why on earth would you do that to yourself? I hope you enjoy your Bookshop Crawl, whether you’re joining an organised crawl or not, and especially enjoy those tasty tasty discounts!

The Big List of participating bookshops plus the perks & discounts they're offering is available here.


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