My second post this Independent Bookshop Week (IBW) is a bittersweet one because the bookshop in question is closing this Saturday, 1 July, and my squirrel sidekick and I will miss our trips there very much.
Run by Sarah Rees and her friendly staff, who always give us a warm welcome and sound book suggestions no matter how busy they are, Cover to Cover is a gorgeous little bookshop in Mumbles.
Squizzey and I first discovered it when we included it in our inaugural IBW bookshop crawl. Since then, we’ve seized every opportunity to add it to a Swansea or Gower-bound road trip itinerary. It’s a real treat to head round Swansea Bay, parking up overlooking the mud flats of Mumbles and climbing the hill past Oystermouth Castle to visit Sarah’s shop on Newton Road.
Cover to Cover always has great window displays to entice you in after spending a proper amount of time admiring them. I especially like this one featuring The Girl in the Red Coat, or the coat at least, which was done for a Kate Hamer event.
The shop entrance is off to the right-hand side which always made me feel as if I were sneaking in. That first sight of the interior is magical and a little overwhelming; here is an Aladdin’s cave filled with bookish treasure and pretty gifts to tempt you.
From children’s books and soft toys at the front of the shop, it progresses from young adult to adult to crime fiction along the side wall on the left until you reach the till. I can understand Sarah and her team wanting to place the crime section right in front of where they’re working, so they can keep an eye on things! New releases and hardbacks are behind the counter and in the middle of the front of the shop, gift ideas. A narrow passageway lined with bookish totes and maps and notebooks leads you through to poetry, nature, travel and other non-fiction sections.
It’s a lively, friendly shop with people popping in for book chat and recommendations, to place or pick up orders, and to put their names down for an author event. I particularly enjoyed going to a nearby beach cafe for a Kirsty Logan event where she read from and talked about her wonderful floating circus book, The Gracekeepers, while we munched on Gracekeeper character cookies and mobiles spun about above our heads. And afternoon tea with Susan Fletcher in a small hall was really fun and entertaining when she was there to talk about her novel featuring Vincent van Gogh, Let Me Tell You About a Man I Knew.
So, this is my THANK YOU to Sarah for always being so welcoming, and especially for being so squirrel-friendly. (I know it’s not always easy!)
Thank you for making us feel as if we were your only customers even when the shop was busy with others.
Thank you for somehow remembering small things said on an earlier visit.
Thank you for always making time to chat and recommend books to us.
Thank you for all the books, cakes, chocolate and cookies, and tote bags.
Most of all, thank you for being there. We’ll miss you!
UPDATE: Since writing this post, Sarah’s been in touch and while the shop is closing this Saturday, it will reopen in August under the ownership of Tim Batcup which is wonderful news. We won’t miss her any less but it’s good news that this marvellous Mumbles bookshop stays on our road trip itineraries.