Newest Review: ... older style, but this was in keeping with the rest of the building so it wasn't too bad. Overall I like Barter Books, but I only visit whe... more
Easily the Best Book Shop In the Country!
Member Name: nickyct
Advantages: This is a book lovers dream .
Disadvantages: Alnwick is a little out of the way for most readers .
Barter books is was originally opened back in 1991 by Mary Manley. It is housed in Alnwick's old Victorian railway station which gives it a quaint old feel.
When we enter we are taken first to a small room in which one finds the paperbacks by there hundreds; autobiographies, fiction, crime, romance, you name it. There are also old tapes although I havn't looked at these in any detail. A traditional open fire heats this small first room but it can get cold as you move back into the old station.
The second room contains the travel books, art, poetry and plays as well as a small section containing second hand DVD's and videos. A toy train runs along the tops of the shelves and above you you will see Peter Dodd's 'Famous Writers' Mural, a huge (38' x 16') mural comprising 40 life-size famous writers in the English language from 1800 on. There's Dickens and Salman Rushdie, Charlotte Bronte, Shakesphere, Keats and Owen, amongst many other. This second room also contains the pay till and there are usually books which have yet to be housed liberally piled up along the benches and the floor.
The main room is filled with shelves containing books on just about every imaginable subject: history, photography, law, religion, gardening, foriegn language, humour, cookery, art, music, science.... The hardback fiction books are also contained within a section right at the back where they are easy to miss. The edges of this room contain the locked display cabinets which house the rarer books, leather backed first editions and such like which are definitely worth browsing just out of interest.
Off this central room there are a number of waiting room, one leads to the toilets, another contains comfy sofas and tables for reading and yet another contains an ample childrens section with a good number of toys if books aren't enough to keep the little ones entertained!!
Fancy a Cuppa?
There is real coffee brewing continuously. If you fancy a cuppa or a slection of teabags, both English and herbal. Drinks are just 20p. Money in the honesty box please. There are also homemade biscuits available for 25p.
Have a seat on the sofa next to the open fire in the first room and puruse the books you have picked out or wander through to one of the old waiting rooms where there is a selection of newspapers waiting to be read, completely free of charge.
Barter or Buy?
The last time I went to Barter books I learnt about the barter system from a member of staff. Simply take in your old books and they will buy them from you, allowing you to create an account with them. Your name and information goes in a little draw (no computers here) and when you return you can buy using the credit on your account. Previously I have only bought books so I cannot comment on the success of this system, although from what I have seen so far the shop is efficent and well run. I doubt there are any problems in this respect and I plan to make good use of the service in the future.
Prices are very reasonable and vary according to the quality of the item for purchase. I have bought a number of paperback fiction books none of which I have paid anymore than £2.50 for. I also bought a hardbacked cookery book which set me back £4.50, a substantial reduction on the original price which was something in the region of £20.
How do I get there?
Take the A1 north of Newcastle (about a 45 minutes drive in total) and take the first junction off sign-posted 'Alnwick'. Head into the Town Centre and you will pass it on your right hand side up a sloped driveway. Be warned that it is easy to miss. If you get to the Town itself you have gone too far.
Parking and other information
October to March: 9.00 to 5.00 everyday including Sunday and 9.00 to 7.00 Thursdays
April to September, and Bank Holidays 9.00 to 7.00 everyday
You can usually get a parking spot right outside although on Saturdays it is likely to be busy.
The bookshop is wheelchair friendly and there are reserved disables places right outside.
In addition to Barter bookds Alnwick is a great place to spend a day and the town it is just a short walk/drive from Barter Books. It is a quaint Market Town with a number of good shops, pubs and coffee shops. In addition there is the Alnwick Castle (where Harry Potter is, in part, filmed) and Gardens. I haven't been in the castle but the gardens are definitely worth a look. They are fantastic and contain Europes biggest tree house, some wonderful fountains and a poison garden.
Where can I find out more?
Check out the website at www.barterbooks.co.uk, they have a book ordering service and a facility which allows you to browse through the rare books collection.
Alnwick Station, Northumberland, NE66 2NP, England
Tel: International +44 1665 604888
I love this book shop. We shoot up to Anwick at the weekend every now and then and it is easy to while away a few hours in here. If you are a book lover and you are passing through the area I definitely recommend that you pop in for a look and grab yourself a couple of bargains. You won't regret it!
Summary: This is a wonderful place, a haven for book lovers to waste away a sunder afternoon. Lovely!