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Aldeburgh BookshopCongratulations To The Aldeburgh Bookshop!

AbeBooks would like to congratulate The Aldeburgh Bookshop for winning the prestigious 2005 Aurum Independent Bookstore of the Year Award.

Read below for a brief description about The Aldeburgh Bookshop and owners Mary and John James.

Search Aldeburgh Bookshop's inventory on AbeBooks to find all the books you're looking for. [Browse Inventory]

The Aldeburgh Bookshop has been in business for over 50 years. John and I bought the shop in 2000, and moved our lives and our two small children up to Suffolk from London to do so. John was a chartered surveyor specializing in investment property; Mary had been an antiquarian bookseller for over 15 years, working for the West End firm Bernard Quaritch. Neither of us had experience of running our own business or selling new books, so we had to learn as we went--fast. The previous owners, who were retiring, were very helpful, but we have inevitably introduced our own style.

The shop is a small independent general bookshop with a popular children's department and a good range of fiction, history and biography (Mary was one of the Judges last year on the Whitbread Biography Prize). The bookshop is situated in the picturesque seaside town of Aldeburgh--we can see the North Sea from our office window--so our busiest times are the holidays. We have recently finished the third phase of refurbishment and modest expansion incorporating the little gallery next door.

Literary Festival
In 2001 we started our own Literary Festival and we have been fortunate to have hosted Alan Bennett, P. D. James, Alexander McCall Smith, Doris Lessing, Richard Dawkins, Craig Brown, Harold Pinter and Lady Antonia Fraser amongst many others over the last four years. We have also published two books since we took over the shop: a reprint of an anthology of Suffolk verse illustrated by John Nash with a new introduction by Ronald Blythe called Parnassian Molehill; and a new translation by Irene Noel Baker of Book Ten of Plato's Republic.

We have gradually introduced a booksearch service for our customers, and we have found AbeBooks.co.uk invaluable for this. I personally hardly consider using any of the other sites for second hand books. We have built up a very small stock of second books relating to Aldeburgh, Suffolk, Benjamin Britten and the Aldeburgh Festival. Having used AbeBooks for years, we have recently decided to advertise our stock on the site. I have only catalogued one batch of books so far, so we do not have many books listed yet. One of my favourites is the limited edition of our famous local poet Michael Hamburger's In Suffolk. Michael and his wife Anne Beresford have given some wonderful poetry readings in our shop.

Top Ten Book Recommendations From The Aldeburgh Bookshop:


Orlando the Marmalade Cat: A Seaside Holiday
Kathleen Hale
This is set in Aldeburgh (or Owlbarrow as the town is called in the book)


George Crabbe
Neil Powell
Local poet and author Neil launched this book in our shop.


From the Land of Green Ghosts
Pascal Khoo Thwe
This has continued to sell well since Pascal's wonderful talk at our Literary Festival last year.


The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency (& all the sequels)
Alexander McCall Smith
All of these books have sold well here since they first appeared in 2000.


These Foolish Things
Deborah Moggach
Deborah appeared at our most recent Literary Festival and was extremely popular.

My Heart is My Own, The life of Mary Queen of Scots
John Guy
Winner of the Whitbread Biography Prize.


How Mumbo Jumbo Conquered the World
Francis Wheen
A speaker at this year's Aldeburgh Literary Festival.


Matisse The Master
Hilary Spurling
The long awaited second volume of Hilary Spurling's excellent biography of Matisse.


A New Translation of Book Ten of Plato's Republic, The One and the Many
Irene Noel-Baker
Published by the Aldeburgh Bookshop. A recent article on it in the Financial Times has brought orders from around the world.


The Reckoning of King Raedwald
Dr Sam Newton
A local historian brings the ship burial at Sutton Hoo to life