Meet Golden Hare Books – A Unique Independent Bookshop
Edinburgh has seen a recent resurgence of local bookshops, which is certainly a boon for the UNESCO City of Literature. What better time is there to curl up with a good book than on these chilly winter days? If you’re unsure of what your next read will be or where you may find it, we may have the perfect bookshop to inspire you. And this one’s especially ideal for winter, with a real fire!
Perhaps one of the city’s most charming and thoughtfully curated independent booksellers is Golden Hare in Stockbridge. This welcoming shop is full of charm and looks like a small gallery, where beautifully designed book-covers take centre stage. The difference here is that you can touch the art, pick it up and discover what’s inside. There’s something so special about walking into a bookshop and getting excited when you discover a new book; it’s almost like being a child again.
Thankfully at Golden Hare Books browsing is encouraged and with the launch of their new ‘LitFix’ service, anyone can discover new books and refresh their bookshelf. We asked them about this unique offering and to tell us more about their story.
1. Could you tell us about your business and how it started?
Golden Hare Books was started by Mark Jones in 2012. His background is as a museum curator and art historian. At the time, Edinburgh’s independent bookshop landscape was in a bad way but Mark always believed in the power of a good book and so he opened Golden Hare. At first, it was in the Grassmarket area of Edinburgh but moved to Stockbridge in 2014. The location on St. Stephen Street suits us much better. There is such a vibrant community of like-minded local businesses and a wide base of customers there who really care about the continued existence of small and independent shops.
2. What makes an excellent bookshop and Golden Hare Books unique?
I think the most important thing is feeling welcome and that no matter what you’re looking for you will likely find something for yourself or a special gift for someone else. We want everyone coming into the bookshop to have a great experience. In a world that’s increasingly uncertain, I think it’s important to have somewhere to visit where you know what you can expect – you can have a conversation with one of our booksellers or even just a quiet browse. We have a small selection of books (maximum 3,000 titles at a time) but everything has been carefully chosen and represents the books we love and think are really important right now.
3. What’s your favorite thing about running a bookshop and what is a typical workday like in Stockbridge?
There’s so much and every day is so different, which is what I love most about it. Some days I can have back-to-back meetings with publisher reps showing us new books coming out; sometimes I’m pitching for events, working with schools or packing up subscription boxes. Thankfully we are busy enough now to support two brilliant booksellers who are pretty much full time and they have their own projects too. It’s always great to be working towards something and we’re never out of ideas.
My favourite days are when I can be in the bookshop and spend time among the books and customers we know as well as welcoming new faces. I love it when someone discovers us for the first time, and even more when they come back next time with a friend! But the very, very best thing is seeing a kid who’s excited about books. There’s nothing like it.
4. With so much to choose from, how do you select which books to stock?
It’s a constant struggle but really fun. There are four of us working at Golden Hare just now and the bookshop naturally reflects our different tastes. Although the selection is small, we want it to be as wide-ranging as possible. We’re given a lot of freedom because we can order nearly any book for a customer or the shop so long as it’s in print in the UK. Splitting the bookshop into three rooms – nonfiction, fiction/poetry and children’s – helps us keep an eye on what we’re missing. It’s important to all of us that we have a diverse range of books reflecting lots of different experiences – it opens our world and knowledge, which is what a bookshop is meant to do, we think. Because our range is small it changes constantly – the idea is that you never visit the same bookshop twice.
5. What do you think makes a good book?
I know this is a cop-out but it depends what you’re in the mood for. Mostly I look for books – usually novels – which are going to inform me about an experience, time or place.
They say never judge a book by its cover, but books are coming back partly because they are beautiful, meaningful things that people own forever, like records. Publishers are beginning to realise that people connect with books in lots of different ways, and it’s about the experience of coming into a bookshop, a design catching your eye, reading the blurb and thinking ‘that’s for me’ and the pleasure of taking it home. It’s a real treat and why we set the shop out the way we do – lots of face-out covers waiting for you to pick one up! A book you choose says something about who you are, which is why books are coming back in a big way.
6. Do you have a favorite book or series of books?
Oh boy. You can always tell our favourite books because they’re never out of the shop. Just a few of mine are Middlemarch by George Eliot, A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki and Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell. Last year for the Muriel Spark Centenary, all 22 of her novels were published by Edinburgh press Polygon, which was my favourite series to put in people’s hands. I also love to support really small presses, their books always look great together and are brilliantly curated – I’ll read anything published by Charco Press, Tilted Axis or & Other Stories.
7. What are your most popular/best-selling books at the moment?
Every month our pick for the monthly book group tops the sales list – this month it’s Little by Edward Carey, which is a novel about the Revolutionary Paris of the 18th century, narrated by the urchin who would later become Madame Toussaud! Other books that are doing really well just now are new novels My Sister the Serial Killer by Okinyan Braithwaite and Peach by Emma Glass. There’s a great new series of short stories old and newly published by Faber & Faber to celebrate their 90th year, which we can’t restock quick enough. A lot of Scottish authors too – The Living Mountain by Nan Shepherd is consistently popular and for very good reason.
8. Where’s your favorite place to curl up and read?
There are so many great cafes in Edinburgh – ever since Lovecrumbs moved into Stockbridge I’m there at least once a week reading, and in the evening there’s nowhere I’d rather be than Smith and Gertrude just along the road on Hamilton Place. It’s my happy place, and we’ve just started a cheese and wine book group with them which is really fun and popular!
9. Here at Dickins, we’re all about Edinburgh. What would your ideal day out in Edinburgh be?
It might be a busman’s holiday but I’ll trawl other bookshops quite happily, and Edinburgh has such a good selection of new and second-hand bookshops that you can choose a location and go. But really my favourite thing to do is wander around Stockbridge and nearby, starting with a coffee and wander around the shops on St. Stephen Street and Raeburn Place, then heading through Inverleith Park. Making my way up to the Botanic Gardens and back round, I’d probably be stopping for a coffee again around Canonmills and then maybe wandering along the Water of Leith past the beautiful Glenogle Colonies. Then I’d head back into Stockbridge for a cocktail at the Last Word Saloon or charcuterie board at Smith & Gertrude!
10. What does 2019 have in store for Golden Hare?
Now that would be telling! This year we want to expand even further into our community, working more closely with schools and local businesses – we already work with Lovecrumbs and Smith & Gertrude on events, and this year we are launching a gift box for newborns with the wonderful Bon Tot. We have plans for a book festival in Stockbridge – more to come soon. 2018 was our best year ever in terms of sales and experiences – we were shortlisted for Children’s Bookseller of the year and travelled to the British Book Awards, introduced a subscription box, ran some amazing events and took on more staff – and we have no intention of slowing down!
11. And last but not least, can you tell us about the unique prize you’ll be offering our readers?
We are giving away one experience voucher to enjoy ‘LitFix’, a new and special way to think about your reading and refresh your bookshelf with the help of one of our friendly, knowledgeable booksellers.
You’ll start in Golden Hare Books to meet a bookseller, then go for a drink, cake and a chat about books along the road at Lovecrumbs, receiving lots of book recommendations tailored to your reading preferences, before heading back to the bookshop for some browsing and to spend a £50 voucher! It lasts around an hour, and we’re also throwing in one of our bespoke designed 100% eco-cotton tote bags. The prize in total is worth £87 and it’s a fantastic experience.
(This competition is now closed)
Win a ‘LitFix’ experience voucher from Golden Hare Books!
This fantastic prize includes a drink & cake at Lovecrumbs where you’ll receive personalised book recommendations tailored to you, a £50 voucher to spend at Golden Hare Books and one of their beautifully designed eco-cotton tote bags.
To read more about the ‘LitFix’ offering, visit the Golden Hare website here.
The competition runs from Thursday the 31st of January until midnight on Wednesday the 6th of February, 2019.
The giveaway is open to everybody over 18 in the UK. We will pick the winner within 24 hours after the competition has ended and contact the lucky person through the social media platform they have used to enter the giveaway. The £50 voucher is valid only in Golden Hare Books. This promotion is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
For a chance to win, choose from one of the following options:
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