The Bookshop Q&A: Kemptown Bookshop

Kemptown Bookshop

Kemptown Bookshop

91 St George’s Road, Brighton, East Sussex BN2 1EE

How long have you been open?
17 years. The owner/manager is Mr Darion Goodwin and the shop manager is Mr Kristian Berggreen.

What sort of books do you sell?
We sell new books, covering most subjects. Particularly strong sections are paperback fiction, children’s books, art, cookery and local books. We also sell the Bookroom Art Press, limited edition fine art prints and a large range of high quality greeting cards, stationery and games.

How did you get into bookselling?
I did a four-year apprenticeship in Bookselling in Denmark 1958-1962, then worked in two different bookshops before moving to England in 1970. I was the manager of Sussex University Bookshop from 1970 until my retirement in 2006, when it was sold to John Smith & Son. I stayed on until 2007 to help the new owners settle in and have since worked here at Kemptown Bookshop.

What are you reading at the moment?
Jo Nesbo’s The Snowman and Nigel Slater’s Toast.

Describe a typical day in the shop
There are two booksellers who take it in turn (I work Tuesday-Thursday only) so when you are on duty it involves every aspect of working in a small bookshop; from answering the phone and emails to unpacking the parcels, serving the customers and ordering books for stock and customer orders. We generally only stock one copy of each book, in order to enable us to have a wide range. Any book sold will be reordered the same day, mainly from wholesalers, and will often be back in stock the next day. We also supply books to several local schools and colleges. We have a coffee shop on the first floor, which is separately staffed. This is very convenient for lunch and a steady supply of lovely coffee.

Which books are popular in the shop at the moment?
Local author Peter James and Stieg Larsson are popular at the moment, as well as several of the many ‘new’ Scandinavian crime writers such as Jo Nesbo. Also selling well is Edmund de Waal’s The Hare with Amber Eyes. Brighton Rock has been popular due to the recent film release and other local authors, especially Nick Cave with The Death of Bunny Monro. Other ones include books related to our fine art prints: Clare Leighton, Ravilious, Edward Ardizzone (Tim & Lucy etc), and poetry, especially Jo Shapcott.

Have you got anything exciting coming up in the next couple of months?
There is nothing arranged at the moment, but we are running writing and poetry courses all through the year. We recently had a launch party for local author Marc Abraham’s Vet on Call.

Why should people shop at independent book stores?
You often get a more interesting range; it may be local or specialist. Also you get a more personal service, with the ability to order books not in stock, for next day delivery.

For more information, visit

Tel. 01273 682110


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