Family-owned bookshop thriving with bustling author book signings

Anara Peach and Paul Angel <i>(Image: Newsquest)</i>
Anara Peach and Paul Angel (Image: Newsquest)

A FAMILY-owned bookshop is thriving in Bournemouth with popular authors launching books and hosting signings at the store.

Westbourne Bookshop is one of three independent businesses run by the Angel family, who are keeping established stores alive.

The site, in Poole Road, first opened as a bookshop in 1903 but has been known under its current name since 1994.

Bournemouth Echo: Anara Peach and Paul Angel
Bournemouth Echo: Anara Peach and Paul Angel

Now, Paul Angel owns the popular shop along with Gullivers Bookshop and Square Records, with his mum, dad and sister.

Paul said he and his family grew up in Wimborne and have always dabbled in business, with their first store being a toy shop.

As a firm bookworm, like the rest of his family, Paul worked in Gullivers in the early 1990s before moving onto his career in web development.

“We took over Westbourne Bookshop in 2015 and I wanted an excuse to get away from the computer,” said Paul.

Bournemouth Echo: Westbourne Bookshop
Bournemouth Echo: Westbourne Bookshop

He added that independent bookshops were decreasing but when lockdown hit they saw a resurgence of young customers.

“It reminded people that sitting with something made out of paper was really nice,” said Paul.

Soon after, Anara Peach joined the team as shop manager and has kickstarted the store’s popular author visits.

Bournemouth Echo: Rachel McLean at Gullivers
Bournemouth Echo: Rachel McLean at Gullivers

Rachel McLean at Gullivers (Image: Gullivers Bookshop)

“We have been lucky with how many [author visits] we have had,” said Anara.

“People love the signed copies.”

Bournemouth Echo: Rachel McLean
Bournemouth Echo: Rachel McLean

Westbourne Bookshop was visited last month by thriller writer Rachel McLean, who bases a number of her books in Dorset.

Bournemouth Echo: Samantha Shannon (right)
Bournemouth Echo: Samantha Shannon (right)

Staff were also honoured with meeting author of The Priory of the Orange Tree and The Bone Season, Samantha Shannon.

Bournemouth Echo: Kristen Perrin
Bournemouth Echo: Kristen Perrin

The shop features signed books from the authors, with some showcasing a special twist such as Kristen Perrin’s freshly-inked skull and crow with each signature on How to Solve Your Own Murder.

Anara said the visits from authors help the promotion of their books and also catches customers attention who are fans of them.

After working at the shop for four years, Anara said her favourite part is speaking to those in the community.

She said: “For some people you are the only person they have spoken to all day.

“We get to meet different people and hear so many different views.”

The bookshop is also unique to chain stores in that it only stocks a few copies of each book, meaning it can host around 3,000 titles.

Customers can also benefit from free books to review, which are sent in by publishers, and receive a discount at the store after.