This is a new feature on my blog: I will be posting on the various bookstores I visit.

Yesterday, I went to do my Christmas shopping and visited my favourite bookstore in Cork: Vibes & Scribes.  They actually have three stores in the city.  The first two, on Lavitt’s Quay, are adjacent.  One is dedicated to crafts and the other to art and photography books. 

Craft store sign

Art book store sign


The art book store

There is a huge choice of books on various topics such as cooking, travel, Irish interest, etc, and many gift ideas, which are presented on display tables.  They also have a section for children’s books and fiction/classics, although it is much smaller than in their other store.  It is a nice store but I find its layout a little too open for my liking.  I think it is too bright and modern, but the selection there is fantastic.

Bridge Street store

Bridge Street store: entrance to another world

The store on Bridge Street is my favourite.  The door itself is inviting.  It is an old building with floors made of wood and apparent beams on the ceiling of the top floor.  There is a nice atmosphere and customers tend to take their time and be absorbed browsing. 

The ground floor has an interesting choice of fiction, classics and children’s books, as well as a sample of art books and the likes.  The first floor is the domain of second-hand books.  They are categorised and alphabetically ordered, which is rare for second-hand bookshops.  I could spend hours there, I love browsing the shelves and the music they play is always great, although maybe not to everybody’s taste (it was brilliant as a relief from Christmas music).  I also appreciate the fact that they have separated chick lit from fiction.  They also have a section for classics, drama/poetry/short stories and foreign books.  However, I was disappointed not to see their section for literary criticism yesterday.

Ground floor: new books

First floor: second-hand books

Their prices are reasonable and they usually have many special offers.  Yesterday, you could get 3 new books for €12 and the choice was great.  I had to refrain myself from buying everything.  I also spotted the paperback edition of The Year of the Flood for €6.99; I was impressed!  One of the books you can always find at the counter is The Little Prince by St Exupery; it’s the Wordsworth edition and is therefore cheap (they also have an Irish version of it).  I always add a copy of it to my shopping as I love offering this book.  However, I found their prices for second-hand books a bit dear: they were mostly at €4.99 or €5.99.  That’s more than the new ones on special offer.  I tend to buy second-hand because it allows me to get more books and books I would not necessarily have bought otherwise, but as I did not find any that were at the top of my list, I resisted the impulse.

At the minute, books that are at the top of my list are written by Canadians and I did not see that many.  Of course, Atwood, Munro, Martell and Shields were there, and there might have been others I did not see, but the choice was quite limited.  I suppose it is normal; after all, it is a bookshop in Ireland and it should promote its own national literature, which it does.  You could therefore find Room by Emma Donoghue on one of the tables suggesting gift ideas (I’m just teasing).