Nestled in the heart of St Martin’s Square is Leicester’s independent book shop, Fox Books.

Stocking a wide range of books for both adults and children, including a number of local authors, Fox Books has been a very popular addition to the Square since they opened. We caught up with owner, Ieuan, for this week’s BID Spotlight.

How would you describe Fox Books in 5 words?

Leicester’s cosy, award-winning independent bookshop.

fox books leicester

Where did the inspiration for Fox Books come from?

During the first Covid lockdown I made an extra effort to shop locally (as one of the lucky ones who could work from home in a secure job) but when I tried to buy some books from a local independent I realised there wasn’t one! I’ve grown up in Leicester and knew there wasn’t an indie bookshop in town but thought there might be in Clarendon Park or Stoneygate. It turned out the closest was Kibworth Books, which is a great bookshop but quite far from the city. That started the ball rolling, and within a year Fox Books was open.    

What is your favourite thing about your location in St Martin’s Square?

The variety and quality of independent businesses in St Martin’s is fantastic. There’s a nice community feel in the square too, especially amongst the independents. Once I’d decided to open the shop it was the only place I looked for a unit.

What have some of your most popular titles been since opening?

We’ve been quite lucky that there have been some massive releases in the last year or so. Richard Osman’s Thursday Murder Club and Beautiful World, Where Are You? by Sally Rooney have both been incredibly popular. One of the nice things about being a small indie is that some of our most popular titles are a little off the beaten track. Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi is a great example – it’s about a time travelling café in Tokyo.

fox books leicester

What is your favourite book?

Such a difficult question! My favourite author is Colson Whitehead (The Underground Railroad, The Nickel Boys etc.) but if I had to pick one book it would be Dissolution by CJ Samson. It’s the first in a wonderful series of murder mysteries set in Tudor London. I remember devouring it over an Easter weekend as a teenager – it’s the book that made me a reader.

How do independent book shops compete with the likes of Amazon and major chains?

The main difference between independents and our competitors is the level of service we offer. I love talking to customers about books, giving recommendations and searching for obscure titles that customers have requested. Our ordering service is also as quick, if not quicker, than the chains and website. Anything that’s in stock with our main supplier (which is about 95% of titles people order) we can have in store the next working day. We’re also very keen to support local authors by stocking their books, hosting book launches etc.

What has been your highlight since opening?

There are a lot to choose from but our Leicester Comedy Festival children’s book readings stand out. We hosted four fantastic children’s authors/comedians in February. It was great to welcome so many people to the shop and hopefully get more children interested in reading. To top it off, we won the Spirit of the Festival Award at the Leicester Comedy Festival Awards in March – I was very excited to briefly share a stage with Stewart Lee.

fox books leicester

Who are some of your other favourite independents?

We’re spoilt for choice in Leicester, especially in St Martin’s. Crafty Burger has to be up there, Pai too. It takes a lot of restraint for me not to spend all our takings on cannoli from Just So Italian. I’m also very excited about our incoming neighbours although I can’t say who they are yet. Other than food, I love the gifts and eco-friendly products at Just Fair Trade and the friendly service at Northside Bikes – they’re both social enterprises too.

Where can people find out more on Fox Books?

We’re on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (@FoxBooksLtd). We also have a monthly newsletter which you can subscribe to here (https://www.foxbooksltd.com/newsletter). Our website at www.foxbooksltd.com is the best way to contact us to order titles we don’t have in stock, enquire about using the shop for an event, or anything else.

Fox Books is located at 9 Silver Walk, St Martin’s Square.

 

Our BID Spotlight features are brought to you in collaboration with BID Leicester.