Whether you enjoy a good crime, with all the twists and turns of the detective and criminal; a good romance, with the perfect blend of emotional complexity; a historical drama, with the power of kings and queens; a fantasy/scfi, with the hero triumphing over a great evil; a children’s book to make you laugh out loud, or a biography with wit and charm. Books On The Hill bookshop is here for you. W are situated on the Hill Road area with numerous independent shops and restaurants.
Literature is part of Clevedon’s history. Poets’ Walk, a popular footpath that runs along the coast and around Wain’s Hill and Church Hill at the southern end of Clevedon, is said to have inspired poets such as Alfred Tennyson, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Makepeace Thackeray who visited Clevedon Court – now a National Trust property.
The bookshop is still young, just 4 year old and is the brainchild of avid readers, Dr. Alistair Sims and his partner, Chloe Smirk. Alistair, who has a doctorate in archaeology, had difficulty reading until he was 13. Since his introduction to the written word (more years ago than he’d like to count), he has fallen in love with books. His partner Chloe Smirk was a prodigious reader aged 8 and her love of books hasn’t waned. Both have dreamed and joked about opening a bookshop as long as they can remember.
When we started the Bookshop the local paper went with the headline “Dyslexia man opens book store.” Many of my family and friends put forward such quips as ‘Dyslexic Man saves the day’ and other puns on being a super hero. This is far from the truth, those who have encouraged me and supported me are the heroes. And so I wanted the bookshop to help others who are in my position, to support and encourage them. Dyslexic hasn’t stopped me dreaming and enjoying a good book, nor should it stop anyone else from doing so. Everyone has the right to enjoy a good story.
One of the most gratifying things since opening are those moments where you have made a difference. We had one child frightened of going into a bookshop or library and after helping him find a dyslexic friendly book and being able have a chat with him, he wasn’t scared anymore and has since come in again and again. There have been many instances where we as a bookshop have made a difference in our small way.
Although starting out as a general bookshop, Alistair and Chloe couldn’t stop their passion from spilling over. They now specialise in Fantasy, Scifi and small Indie Press publishers of the genre online. And of course considering Alistair’s obsessions — loose leaf Tea and Dyslexic friendly books.
We wanted to work with the Indie Press publishers, such as Grimbold and PS Publishing in the Fantasy and Scifi genre because there are some talented authors with great books. Coupled with our tea. Perfect combination. Our customers have really enjoyed our tea tasting events, where they depart with a pack of loose-leaf tea and a good book. In their spare time (or a sneaky teabreak) you can find Alistair reading an epic fantasy and drinking a cup of tea (loose leaf obviously!). While Chloe drinks a coffee while reading anything based on a fairy-tale.
One of the biggest decisions for us since opening the shop has been to go online. There are so many other online shops out there, and so we decided to concentrate on our passion of Fantasy and Scifi and offer signed copies, where we work with publishers and authors directly.
We love working outside the shop as much as possible, a bookshop has to reach out to its customers, going to schools and libraries with authors. We are avid Convention attendees, and love selling our books and tea at these events including the BristolCon, NovaCon and FantasyCon We meet some brilliant authors and fellow enthusiasts. We are also big supporters of the Gemmell Awards. To us they are a benchmark for British fantasy and we will be going again this year at Edge Lit in July.
We have also been supremely lucky to have some lovely authors come and sign at the shop, including Stan Nicholls, Sophie Tallis, Joanne Hall, John Llewellyn Probert, and New York Times Bestseller, Robin Hobb. We have also had the pleasure of facilitating an evening with the TV presenter Nick Knowles at the Curzon cinema.