Former Waterstones bookseller to open indie bookshop in Salisbury

Former Waterstones bookseller to open indie bookshop in Salisbury

A former Waterstones bookseller is preparing to open an independent children’s bookshop in Salisbury next year. 

The Rocketship Bookshop on Bridge Street will stock a wide range of titles from baby and picture books, through to YA, with a small curated selection of adult titles, with owner Jo Boyles planning to support new authors. 

Boyles, who worked as a children’s bookseller at Waterstones in Salisbury, has 15 years experience in bookselling and plans to open the shop in February 2020.

The former bar boasts three floors and has a bookselling heritage that Boyles is keen to build on. From the 1970s to 1991, the site was The Everyman Bookshop, which attracted big names such as Terry Pratchett. 

“The response has been fantastic,” said Boyles. “I think a lot of people are really excited to see it as a bookshop again. It’s got so much heritage and I want to build on that. It was originally a wine cellar, so the building has got lots of character.” 

Discussing her vision for the shop and its offering, Boyles said: “The main priority of the shop will be to listen to young people and give them a space that they feel involved in. I don’t want to focus on the idea of saying ‘This is the book that will change your life’, but rather focus on the therapeutic act of reading in and of itself, whether that’s fiction, non fiction, a epic series or a short story. And offering a choice of books that best reflects each young readers identity, aspirations and interests

“It’s going to be called The Rocketship and I like the idea of it looking towards the future and encouraging children to look to their own futures as well. I really want to support new authors, as well as stocking the classics. We have this strong literary heritage of children’s classics but we also have some amazing new authors and I want to support them. I do want to have a specially curated adult section as well to include local authors. I also love books so much that when speaking to customers it would be odd not to have a title in that I have recommended. I also think it’s important to have that crossover for teenagers.”

Initially Boyles plans to run the shop on her own but says she is interested in hiring booksellers, who like her, are single parents. “I would quite like to help out single parents. I know how tough it can be to find a job that you find rewarding and fit in around being a single parent. My children are a little older now, and I just thought now was the right time to open the shop.”

The Rocketship, which will open just around the corner from Waterstones, will be Salisbury’s second independent bookstore alongside religious bookshop Sarum College. “The Waterstones I worked at was a fantastic shop and it would be nice to work alongside them to give children in Salisbury as much choice as possible and Sarum, as another independent, has already been incredibly supportive,” said Boyles.

Booksellers Association m.d. Meryl Halls welcomed the new bookshop. She said: “We have seen a few children’s specialists open recently, and it is always heartening and gratifying to see a new bookshop join the ranks – especially in a city like Salisbury, which has the demographic to support such an endeavour.  We wish Jo Boyles and her team all the best with the new shop and welcome her to the most supportive and encouraging tribe of bookshop owners and booksellers.  More bookshops mean stronger high streets, more books sold and more children given the opportunity to read for pleasure and change their lives for the better.”