In Town: Bags of Books, Lewes

exterior-bags-of-books-lewes
Doesn’t the outside of Bags of Books just make you want to GO IN?

I have a special affection for children’s bookshops. As a girl who grew up to be a writer, I was obsessed with books as a child. My dad nurtured this obsession and I still get a thrill when I go into a bookshop – especially an independent.

So in honour of my obsession, the first place in the Little Lewes ‘In Town’ series – for introducing great child-friendly or -focused Lewes shops, businesses, cafés and restaurants to visitors and new residents (and perhaps showing those long-standing ones another side to the places they often visit) – is the brilliant Bags of Books.

window-display-bags-of-books
The little window facing South Street always calls to me…

THE ESSENTIALS

Address: 1 South Street, BN7 2LZ

Tel no.: 01273 479320

Website: bags-of-books.co.uk

Hours: Mon-Sat, 9.30am-5.30pm

activity-sheets-bags-of-books
As if there weren’t enough to occupy your kids – Bags of Books provides activity sheets

THE DETAILS

  • This small, stuffed bookshop is in a one-time bakery-turned-antiques-shop that dates back to 1577 (or so think the owners, Anna and Gavin).
  • Neatly organised into sections are its stock of 8,000 books.
  • Since my children are one and four, I don’t know much about Junior Fiction, Young Fiction and Teen Fiction, but am told the staff read as many of them as possible. So someone can give you the inside edge on whether a book’s content is suitable for your tween/teen.
  • There are two new carousels in the middle of the shop:
    * An expanded audio selection, because girls and boys less into reading and more into films and video games find this a more appealing way to absorb stories. Cool.
    * Classics – abridged so five-year-olds (or unabridged so 15-year-olds) can enjoy, say, The Count of Monte Cristo. Double-cool.
  • Bags of Books is bursting with ideas for author events and whole days of things to entertain and inspire children. But they report they’re often not full to capacity – a disappointment for them and a shame for those attending. It’s largely because they’re not on the main drag.

LITTLE LEWES LOVES

Chatting

I have done this with every member of staff there. I love chatting. I love children’s books. I love chatting about children’s books.

I always enjoy a good chinwag with Karen. She’s the longest-serving staff member at Bags of Books, and has three sons. She has boy anecdotes, and when I’m worn out she thoroughly sympathises. Which I love.

baby-room-bags-of-books
The embracing Baby Room

Baby Room

The shop may not thank me for saying this, but before my baby came along, I made an activity of Bags of Books with my toddler on rainy days. Sitting on a beanbag with him in the Baby Room, looking at board books (from the well-loved samples), playing with the Topsy and Tim puppets… It felt embracing.

NB: Yes we love the library, and yes it’s free, but my toddler was – and my nearly-five-year-old still is – obsessed with twirling the DVD carousels and listening to the wall-mounted CDs. So I’d end up in a pog about him not wanting to look at books with me.

spring-seasonal-bags-of-books
A springtime display – with some gift books to the left

Gifts and advice

I always try to go to Bags of Books for presents. They do beautiful displays of ‘special occasion’ books for births, christenings and so on. And I love their seasonally-themed shelves.

our-recommendations-bags-of-books
Bags of Books’ own recommendations, sorted into unusual categories

Their advice is more than just verbal. They do a section of revolving ‘Our Recommendations’ that are organised by unusual themes/subjects such as ‘Top Five Stories That Are Silly’ or ‘Top Five Books About Books’. Genius.

Books to order

Amazon isn’t popular with many people in the town anyway – tax avoidance is a thumbs-down and Lewes likes to keep it local. But many don’t know that Bags of Books promises to have books you order within two days – and that they often have them by the next day.

ALL IN ALL

They run a great loyalty scheme. And they have that cosy corner. And a slide. And I’ll say it again: I like the chatting.

Want to see more photos of Bags of Books? Check out the Little Lewes Bags of Books Pinterest board. This includes a  watercolour of the shop by Lyndsey Smith.

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I’m Kate, a copywriter, brand consultant and editor who creates messages that are clear and clean. I create these for brands and agencies both big and boutique, in areas including design, homes and interiors, travel, fashion, lifestyle, beauty, food, and kids and families. I believe clear, clean messages bolster brands and businesses. They evoke emotion and ignite inspiration, and when written well, they’re easier to absorb – and respond to. I live in Copenhagen and am half-English, half-Danish. I write as comfortably in American English as in British, and behind the scenes I'm also studying Danish. Need help getting your message out? Contact me.

3 thoughts on “In Town: Bags of Books, Lewes

  1. Went to lovely author event here last Saturday with the author telling, acting out the story of the Magic Bojabi Tree with something represent each animal.

  2. Hi Sophie, That DOES sound lovely. There is another event there this Saturday that I’m going to put in Weekending tomorrow, and then another towards the end of the month with an unconfirmed illustrator who happens to be a great friend of mine. I’m hoping to ask her to do a guest post before then… Watch this space! Thank you for the comment! Kate x

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