'We sold one book' - Bookshop owners on a year of highs and lows

Pam Horrocks and Keith Britten at the Holt Bookshop, which reopened just over a year ago in a new location.

Pam Horrocks and Keith Britten at the Holt Bookshop, which reopened just over a year ago in a new location. - Credit: Supplied by Tess Goode

Opening a bookshop could be considered a risky venture at the best of times, let alone in the middle of a global pandemic.

But one year on from launching The Holt Bookshop in Lion House Court, owners Keith Britten, 54, and Pam Horrocks, 58, are delighted with how it is going. 

A scene from the one year anniversary of the reopening of the Holt Bookshop. 

A scene from the one year anniversary of the reopening of the Holt Bookshop. - Credit: Supplied by Tess Goode

Mr Britten said: "We've done a lot better than we thought we would have.

"We did a business plan before we opened and were incredibly cautious. But so many of our old regulars have been very complimentary about the new shop and how it's laid out." 

Mr Britten said the second and third coronavirus lockdowns had made planning difficult, and although they kept selling books via click-and-collect and delivery services, times got tough. 


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"Our very worst day was when we only sold one book," he said. "But the deliveries we were doing made a real difference to us, and the support money that came from the government meant we kept our head above water for that quarter." 

Musicians at the one year anniversary of the reopening of the Holt Bookshop. 

Musicians at the one year anniversary of the reopening of the Holt Bookshop. - Credit: Supplied by Tess Goode

The shop used to be based at nearby Appleyard, but after previous owner David Makinson retired, Mr Britten and Ms Horrocks, who used to help out there, decided to take it on and relaunch the shop at a new location.

They marked the anniversary with a day of children's story time and crafting sessions, live music and a conversation event with an author, Bruce Lindsay, whose new book explores the lives of folk musicians Sam Larner and Harry Cox.   

The Holt Bookshop, which was reopened in a new location under new ownership in 2020. 

The Holt Bookshop, which was reopened in a new location under new ownership in 2020. - Credit: Supplied by Tess Goode

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Keith Britten said sales had been strong over summer, with plenty of domestic tourists keen to get stuck into a good book during their north Norfolk holiday.

He said the paperback releases of Richard Osman's The Thursday Murder Club and Hilary Mantel's The Mirror and the Light had been among the best sellers. 

"We're also selling a lot of children's books - because of the older demographic of this area, a lot of children come to stay with their grandparents around here," he said.

Michael Morpurgo's latest offering, The Puffin Keeper, and Judith Kerr's classics including The Tiger Who Came to Tea have been among books popular with younger readers. 

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