a homely refuge and social hub
Nestled (or hidden), as we are, equidistant between Matlock Bath and Wirksworth – even within the tiny village of Cromford itself, the bookshop is somewhat tucked away, overlooking the pond – we are not necessarily the kind of place you just happen to stumble upon but more of a ‘destination bookshop’; one that you decide to seek out, to deliberately pay a visit to and we do our utmost to show our appreciation for your efforts by attempting to give you the ‘compleat (sic) bookshop experience’. This shouldn’t just be another retail experience, where you pop somewhere to pick up a necessity, but rather somewhere you come to savour, to escape to – to enjoy.
We are not perfect, far from it. When books are coming through our doors at an alarming rate (which is often), we can be more than a little untidy, and finding what you are after can sometimes feel like something of a quest, but we try our very best. And we want you to feel relaxed, to be a part of what Dave Mitchell, our proprietor, describes in our video as “a sort of museum that visitors are allowed to buy a little piece of”.
You will never feel pressured to have to buy something (though of course it’s always welcomed if you do) by pushy staff (we have a WONDERFUL team). I hope you will always get a warm welcome and we are always bursting with advice and recommendations should you choose to seek it. But if you would rather curl up quietly in an armchair somewhere (the Art Room is a particular favourite of many regulars) with a book or two to look through, then please do just that. Or perhaps you are here to meet friends and have a natter over a cuppa and a slice of cake in our wonderful vegetarian cafe – what could be nicer?
There are always events planned – author signings, interest group meetings, discussion groups, etc – and you can find out more by viewing our ‘What’s On’ board on the ground floor or by checking this website or our social media pages. This is an area we hope to expand on further over the coming months and years as Charlotte, our newly appointed ‘Events Co-ordinator’, looks to improve and diversify the range and frequency of activities we currently offer.
Over the forty-plus years we have now been trading we’ve built up an incredibly loyal customer base and it’s often recommendations from frequent visitors that brings in the new. 2015’s Crowd Funding campaign to raise money for urgent building work was an incredible – and deeply humbling – reminder of how well loved Scarthin Books has become and we are deeply appreciative of the continued support our customers give, especially in a troubled climate for retail, and for bookshops in particular. However, we continue to thrive and the year 2015-2016 saw the sharpest rise in takings for many, MANY years and we plan to be a fixture of Cromford and a destination for book lovers for at least another forty-plus years.
by David Booker, General Manager (2017)
Customer testimonials, gathered from emails, online and from our Visitors Book
I’ve never felt drawn to write a letter like this before but your shop has given me so much pleasure that I felt that you deserve to hear such praise. We’re always so quick to complain but never give credit where it’s due do we? Well, we came to your shop with my son and our grandchildren a few Saturdays ago now (first time in quite a few years) and what a treat our day out was. When we arrived recently it was like stepping back into a time that we thought no longer existed, in so much as from the very moment we stepped into the shop it was like we were welcomed into a magical wonderland where everyone there was having the time of their lives. Our grandchildren could have spent all day in the delightful children’s room and my husband in the art room and the way everything seems so much better organised now meant it was a shear delight to browse. I think we bought everything from your gifts room enough to keep us stocked in Christmas presents for years to come. We had our lunch in the cafe as we always do and the staff you have in there were just as delightful! Thank you for your kind hospitality and thank you for running such a truly wonderful, wonderful shop that is clearly experiencing its heyday. Mr & Mrs Roper (Derby), by email, 2015
This is the loveliest bookshop I’ve ever seen. Mario & Palma (Spain), in the Visitors Book, 2017
Divide a century by four, and that’s how long since I first came, to lift the latch on ‘Scarthin’s’ door. So glad to find it’s much the same! David Sissons (Sheffield), in the Visitors Book, 2017
We come here a lot. There are lots of lovely memories we have here and it’s always a great hideout on a rainy day. Don’t know what I’ll do without it at uni. (Only thing that would make it better is a cat). Wayne & Rebekah Stillweel (Derby), in the Visitors Book, 2017
This place is SPECTACULAR! I literally want to empty the contents on my wallet into your till. Please can I move in? xx Elein, in the Visitors Book, 2016
I have visited Cromford and Scarthin Books before and was lookling forward to my return this February…It brings about such peace of mind, such warmth and fascination in my heart…Aesthetically it is a timeless home, so evocative and intriguing…There is a clutter and an order residing in the shelves and the carpet; harmoniously and mischeviously…The ticking of the clock, in this room, and a ringing old fashiomed telephone…have a splending hypnotic presence which makes me smile, then there is the homity pie; delicious and the old letters framed on the wall…This bookshop arranges my thoughts most gracefully and footnotes my heart most kindly…Thank you… James Trott (Manchester), in the Visitors Book, 2016
Pure heaven. If I could, I would live here. Of an evening or on weekends close the doors, turn off the ‘phones, make a quantity of coffee, sit down, and read. But I would add some vintage radio records. This is a lovely, lovely place. David Neale (Burbage), in the Visitors Book, 2016
Please help! We have lost our way and are trapped in a tiny book-crammed corridor. Voices are weak now, not much strength left. Make haste… Big F & Kay Smith (Cornwall), in the Visitors Book, 2016
Often in Scarthin Bookshop I lurk, / Mining its very rich seam of quirk, / Digging out gems in the stratified books, / Opening up treasures hiding in nooks, / Discarding dead volumes to stifling to read, / Seeking the book that I’ll know I shall need. / Here are books that will live, books that will die, / Buried in cliffs that reach to the sky. / Here I can tunnel through paper and ink, / Digging through minds, minds that could think, / Or minds that meandered through thoughts made of dust. / Minds made of gold, minds turning to rust. / Who knows what you’ll find when you come to this shop? / Start coming here, and you’ll never stop. Witheld, in the Visitors Book, 2015
Wonderful bookshop – friendly children’s area – cafe delicious! – especially homity pie. Staff – very welcoming & homely. Highly recommended. Catherine & Tony (London), in the Visitors Book, 2013
Scarthin Books is one of the most wonderful bookshops you could ever visit! Every trip is like a treasure hunt in a magical old house. Whatever your interests, you are quite likely to find something here to delight your mind and entice your interest in life. Highly recommended! Vishwam Heckert, Google Reviews, 2017
An amazing bookshop with just about everything you could hope for, books that you dream of finding are just there for you to find. That odd request for a book most people have never heard of is welcomed by the staff and they will do their best to find it for you. Andy Barker, Google Reviews, 2017
If you want to read it, it’s very likely to be here and if it isn’t then the friendly staff will offer suggestions and/or order it in if they can. Scarthin Books is a treasure before you even look properly at their shelves – much like Hamley’s toy shop or Willy Wonka’s factory it has the air and appearance of a magical bookshop imagined by true book lovers. The shelves are packed and those shelves are everywhere, the books strain and fill every wall, corner and crevice and I can’t imagine every managing to ‘just pop in’. Its a major bonus that the shop also has a fab cafe serving lovely food and good coffee – endless books and tasty vegan food in one place! The books here are new and used, from the latest releases to very vintage tomes and the prices are reasonable. Parking to visit can be a bit tricky as the shop is tucked up a narrow street and you need to find parking on the main road but there is usually space within a short walking distance. Just make yourself a promise that you’ll only leave with what you can easily carry! – Red P (Chesterfield), Trip Advisor, 2016
“A homely refuge and a social hub” is the tagline Scarthin Books uses to describe itself, and it was a wonderful find for any booklover. From antiquarian books to old Penguin paperbacks to modern literature, Scarthin is a delight for any book lover. They say they have almost 100,000 titles in stock, and I believe them. Many rooms make exploring like a treasure hunt, and all the books stuffed inside them are well indexed by category, so it is pretty easy to locate your favorites. A good children’s book room would keep most kids entranced, too. Add to the allure of the books themselves, there is a small but very good cafe (mostly vegetarian I think) that was perfect for a coffee or lunch break midway through your book rambling. I was really happy to find Scarthin Books, and spent a great afternoon there. If I lived nearby, I would spend a lot more time there…happily. – MJP-22, Trip Advisor, 2014