The Bookshop Q&A: City Books

City Books

City Books

In the heart of Brunswick – 23 Western Road, Hove, East Sussex. A couple of minutes walk from the sea and ten minutes from Brighton’s town centre.

How long have you been open?
We celebrate our 25th anniversary this year, having been in the same location since 1986.

What sort of books do you sell?
We sell new books, with a particularly strong fiction section, and non-fiction on all the subjects you’d expect in a great bookshop. We also have many signed editions due to the amount of author events we have hosted or assisted at.

How did you get into book-selling?
Paul and Inge Sweetman, the owners, started the shop after working together at WHSmith for some years. Personally, I have been here three years, but started in books after leaving university and joining Methven’s in Worthing.

How would you describe a typical customer?
Well, this is Brighton and Hove, so there are no typical customers! But generally you could say our customers are pretty well read and are always keen to try new authors and take us up on our recommendations. They are also politically engaged so we sell a lot of socio-economic interest titles – The Spirit Level was really big for us last year.

What is your favourite book in the shop?
There are too many to mention, but David Mitchell’s hardback of The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet is just beautiful, a great read – and it’s signed of course.

What are you reading at the moment?
At the moment I’m reading Edmund de Waal’s The Hare with Amber Eyes, Patrick O’Brian’s Yellow Admiral, Zadie Smith’s The Autograph Man and Tristan Gooley’s book The Natural Navigator. I don’t believe in just one book at a time.

Are you looking forward to any upcoming book releases?
David Lodge’s new fictional biography of H G Wells A Man of Parts looks intriguing and there is a new Ali Smith – There But For The – in June. She is one of the few writers I always stop everything for when the new one comes out.

What makes your shop different from chain stores?
We have a very busy schedule of literary events throughout the year as well as supplying bookselling for many outside events including the Charleston festival every May. We have the personal service you only get in a community shop like ours and we will order in any book we don’t have, in many cases on an overnight delivery which beats the chain booksellers hands-down. We are proud of the variety and depth of our stock – if you can’t find something you absolutely MUST HAVE in our shop, you just aren’t trying!

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