The Edge of the World Bookshop
The Edge of the World Independent Bookshop – Penzance
By Joseph Nicholson
From outside on Market Jew Street, the shop front is bold and exciting; on one hand, The Edge of the World fits perfectly into its surrounding Penzance home as another eccentric character of the town and on the other, stands out with its big personality.
When I walk through the front door, it is for the very first time and my eyes cannot help themselves. Beautiful books are lined up on the walls, some tucked away in secret corners that you discover the more you explore.
Husband and wife team Rachael and James Howorth, who have been navigating The Edge of the World for the past three years, seem to have built an impressive rapport with the customers that walk in – many of whom exchange greetings and goodbyes with their first names. Although not a regular, I’m still treated to a warm welcome from behind the counter.
I have arrived on a Monday, just before lunch and James is in today; already there are a number of people looking around and buying bits and pieces – there’s an extensive range of other treats on offer as well as the books, including greetings cards, stationery and beautiful, unusual gifts. In between transactions, I step over to ask James a few questions about the The Edge of the World, the first being how they came up with the great name.
‘We wanted to be as anti-corporate as we could, on the fringes, and really push the independence. We’re also at the end of Cornwall, so it just works.’ As well as a quirky business name, The Edge of the World is very active on social media, including twitter, which has an equally punchy address: @edgybooks.
I ask what it is James enjoys most about the bookshop, what qualities it possesses and the best thing about living and working in Cornwall.
‘It’s an Aladdin’s cave of books,’ he says with passion in his voice. ‘There’s a great range of titles for people to choose from. We support local authors and have a local author table at the front of the shop. As for living and working in Cornwall? It’s the scenery and the atmosphere. The place is full of misfits, so we fit right in!’
I really like James’ attitude to work and the fact that The Edge of the World is promoting local authors to both residents and visitors to Penzance. It is a supportive way of giving writers the chance to have their work discovered. Of course, I have to ask James what his favourite book and author is.
That’s a tough one,’ he says and I can tell I have put him in a difficult position to choose just one book, which is cruel of me. ‘Wind up Bird Chronicle by Murakami is brilliant. I’m also a big fan of Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea.’
As I buy a few cards to take away with me as a memento of my visit, I ask James where he would recommend people visit when they come to Penzance, to which he smiles: ‘The Edge of the World of course!’
Penzance LitFest is delighted to once again be working alongside The Edge of the World Bookshop, Penzance’s own vibrant, independent booksellers. As well as the Market Jew Street shop, The Edge of the World will have a selection of titles by LitFest authors available to buy from The Acorn during Penzance LitFest 2015. Be sure to stop by and say hello, have a browse and pick up titles by your favourite LitFest authors.