It surely has not escaped your attention that the almighty bookshop still exists. Their existence was presumed doomed when e-books loomed in every corner of the internet. But for those (like me) who firmly believe in the magic of holding a book, turning real pages and being mesmerized by a cover, the bookshop (and the library obviously) would always be the preferred portal to other worlds.

What is truly amazing is the increase in independent bookshops in most notably smaller New Zealand towns, as if the pandemic thrusted people in finally plunging into the deep unknown but oh so exciting dark and murky waters of pursuing dreams.

Point in case is Chicken & Frog in Featherston, opened about 8 months ago by Joanna Ludbrook, a retired school librarian.

We visited just a couple of days ago, because Featherston, New Zealand’s own booktown, was on my to-do list. We didn’t manage to visit all of Featherston’s bookshops (a simple reason to revisit), in fact we only got to number one, two and three out of seven. We enjoyed time browsing and lounging with a hot chocolate in Loco Coffee and Books (second hand) and loved inspecting every corner of The Featherston Ferret (second hand).

And number three was Chicken & Frog, housed in previous medical rooms now transformed into themed spaces, cozy spots and reading nooks. The bookshop is filled with such an inspiring collection of children’s books including a wide range of non-fiction books because that is Joanna’s passion.

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Greytown, only a stone’s throw away from Featherston, has not had an independent bookshop in decades until Mrs Blackwell’s Village Bookshop opened its doors a few months ago. The old Greytown Library building has been put to excellent use with book covers demanding to be picked up for a closer look and fine stationary to drool over (I’m like Pavlov’s dog when I see or smell stationary).

Looking into the topic of independent booksellers in NZ, I came across so many wonderful bookstores, each making their mark in a unique way and surviving. Does anyone have a list that I can share?

When you visit a new place, check out their local library and if you manage to restrain yourself to buying only one book in the local bookshop you’re a legend.

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