The bookshop chain with an independent heart

My Booklover’s Guide to Bookshops  is primarily a celebration of the independent booksellers, but there are a few shops that deserve to be part of such a celebration even if they are part of a larger chain.

I’ve already taken on the flagship shop of Blackwell’s in Oxford, but I just had to include the Oxford branch of Waterstones, a short distance away at the other end of Broad Street. And here’s why…

It may not have ‘technically’ been a Waterstones at the time (I think it may have still been a Dillons at the time when this took place) when I went into this building of neo-classical architecture in search of a book to give to my Dad for his birthday. The thing is I had forgotten what the book was called and who had written when I went up to the front desk to ask. 

I would have been ‘that nightmare of a customer’ for the poor bookseller, when I went up to them and boldly asked them if they had this book…

Do you have a book – I can’t remember the title, umm, or the author. It’s about the same size and shape as Longitude, but it’s not from that publisher. And it’s about a ship’s cat…

For a moment the bookseller looked understandably perplexed, and had a brief look on the computer, pointlessly before remembering something and going off to another part of the shop and coming back a few minutes later with Caroline Alexander’s Mrs Chippy’s Last Expedition

It’s a great book and thank you to the bookshop that found it for me from the most useless of descriptions. And that is why Waterstones Oxford is included in my Booklover’s Guide to Bookshops.