Gallery: Black Country bookshop is full of hidden treasures

What do Billy Wright’s football album, a Shakespeare book-end, Thunderbirds figurines and retro music badges all have in common?

Gallery: Black Country bookshop is full of hidden treasures

David Wilsdon, from Penn Fields, who is the 43-year-old owner of Wolverhampton Books in Victoria Street, Wolverhampton

They can all be found in a bookshop in the Black Country.

Wolverhampton Books, in Victoria Street, also sells teapots, football programmes, super hero toys, nostalgic ornaments – oh and some books, of course.

And these quirky gifts are helping to keep the store – which is one of less than 1,000 independent bookshops left in the country – in business.

The store’s owner, David Wilsdon, says expanding into other areas is something that will help keep the business going for much longer.

Mr Wilsdon, 43, said: “We’ve been at this shop for four-and-a-half years now, and in Wolverhampton for 12 years.

“We sell a lot of antique books but also lots of other little bits and bobs that help as well.

“It’s a mixture of everything really. If someone likes a certain book and novelist then they may also like the little things that we sell to go along with them.”

Martin Eggleton, who works at the store, said: “We have a lot of collectables from TV and film, militaria, old postcards and photographs, and for each section of collectables we will also have a section of books for that too.

“We have books that go for around £2 but then we also have antiques that can sell for up to four figures, but that doesn’t happen every day unfortunately.”

Wolverhampton Books gets a regular stream of customers.

Mr Eggleton said their position in the city centre, in the Lindy Lou house in Victoria Street, also helps.

He said: “We are in this wonderful building that people get intrigued by and it sits very well with what we sell.

“We get a lot of people come in just to have a look around or look at the architecture.”

The Lindy Lou building, also known as the Copper Kettle, is dated 1300 but was most likely built in the early 17th century with an 18th century extension.

In its past it has been a gift shop, bakers, a tea shop and a toy shop – which is where the Lindy Lou name comes from.

Mr Wilsdon said bookshops still serve an important purpose in towns and cities across the country.

The decline of independent bookshops has been blamed by some people on the rise of the internet, and e-books.

But Mr Wilsdon said there are some similarities between some of the internet sites which now dominate book sales. He said: “In a way we are like eBay and Amazon. They’re basically massive bookshops now, but like us they sell other things too, but on a grander scale.

“We ship all over the world, to places like Japan, and we do quite well from it.

“It’s down to two things, time and money. People don’t have a couple of hours spare to read through a few books in a shop.

“There are other things for them to do with television and playing games and that sort of thing.”

And Mr Wilsdon said the nostalgia and enjoyment people get from browsing a book shop will keep them open. He said: “Nostalgia is a big thing and people might revert and regress when they want cheering up.

“We have people come in quite a lot just to have a look around and we like that.

“I don’t see anything wrong with someone going into a bookshop and having a read of a few books, as a way to kill a couple of hours.

“But like I say, people can watch television or go on the internet these days so they busy themselves with other things.

“We have a wide variety of books here and we also have some that are incredibly old and this helps keep us going.

“There isn’t many places you can get very old books so that also helps us. We have people coming from all over to get books from here.”

The total number of independent bookshops in the UK is now 987, down from 1,028 a year earlier. The association’s figures for last year showed that 67 independent bookshops had closed, while 26 opened during the same period.

But Tim Godfray, head of the Booksellers Association, said the future of bookshops are at risk. He said: “Bookshops are important cultural and community hubs, and make a vital contribution to the health of our high streets and local economies.”

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