As well as “being surrounded by books all day” Imagined Things Bookshop owner Georgia Duffy says the best part of opening to business has been “encouraging people to read” she takes pleasure from engaging with her customers and helping them find what they are looking for. The shop cultivates a warm, friendly atmosphere and a fine range of books, where there is something for everyone. For more mature readers, I was very pleased to see parents steering their children towards Sir Terry Pratchett, pre-ordering copies of the latest hardback editions of his Discworld novels for themselves. I confess Pratchett was the beloved author that fostered my love of reading.
Indeed, the shop boasts a very healthy fantasy section. On entering the shop, to the far walls on the left, cabinets dedicated to Harry Potter merchandise and jewellery can be seen. Duffy, a Potter fan herself believes “it’s sure to satisfy the appetites of many local fanboys and fangirls and spark the interest of young people.” This gives readers the chance to visit new worlds through books, as well as old ones. The shop itself has a magical feel.
Duffy has a keen eye for detail, I noticed as I scanned the sci-fi section under Gaiman for American Gods and Neverwhere, where I found the latter, but the former so I learned had already been snatched up. No matter, for I learnt the stores pledge: that any book can be ordered through Imagined Things and is due to arrive in stock within 1-3 working days. The shop pledge too to stock books by local authors, hire local staff and host book signings, so there will be many exciting events to come. A baby blue telephone rings. The shop stocks greetings cards by local artists, dyslexia friendly books, pocket toys, stationary, notebooks, bedtime stories and yes, even umbrellas. It is a homely, warm and welcoming place to seek refuge from this rainy weather we’ve been having recently, it residing in the sheltered part of Parliament Street, Westminister Arcade. There is an undeniably charming, retro-British atmosphere here…
Duffy believes there is a place for both eBooks and printed books, saying “while eBooks have declined in sales, print books recently have had a revival.” She has been a bookworm for as long as she can remember, a love that runs in the family “my nan and my mum have always loved books”, so it is very understandable how fostering that same excitement in the children now is very important to the young author. For fantasy fans she recommends “the Mad Adam trilogy by Margaret Atwood and Philip Pullman His Dark Materials”.
Before following her dream, Duffy was a radiographer for 6 years. This she feels did not ignite her creative side. She is now a published author, with a crowded funded publisher. Georgia Duffy wishes to nurture in children an enthusiasm for reading and writing. There is evidence of this too in-store, with titles for younger readers ranging from activity books like “Young Writers Handbook” to … “Rebel Girls” short stories. A lover of the arts, her advice to aspiring authors “Keep writing. Use Scribbler. Don’t give up.” she also recommends taking part in “National Novel Writing Month, 50,000 words sequel to my book Futurespan, a fantasy novel.” In future she wishes to get involved with children in the local community.
Prior to its opening, Imagined Things Bookshop made sure to build up their profile on social media. Many customers first discovered Imagined Things through social media (I myself included), originally visiting the shop simply out of wanting to “support local independent bookshop” and now upon revisiting this little bookstore two weeks on from its official opening, those customers keep coming back for more. Georgia Duffy is the face of the shop, one customer testimony describing her to be “friendly, lets you browse without interruption.” This shows Harrogate’s first indie bookshop in 20 years has begun to build a very important personal relationship with the booklovers of the town. Watch out, Waterstones!