Calling all book lovers – a new bookshop specialising in crime fiction and true crime is set to open in York.
Criminally Good Books will open on 14 Colliergate next year. The location was previously home to gallery and shop Village Gallery, which closed earlier this year.
The specialist bookshop will stock all kinds of crime fiction, such as historical crime, cosy crime, thriller, mystery, police procedural, and detective fiction, as well as true crime books, special editions, book-related gifts and mystery-themed items.
The mastermind behind Criminally Good Books is Isla Coole, who lives in York with her family.
Isla and her husband took over the lease of 14 Colliergate on 1 November and there’s “a lot do before we can open.”
“I believe there is room for a specialist crime independent bookstore alongside the other great bookstores in the city,” said Isla.
“Crime and mystery is one of the most popular and fastest-growing book genres.
“True crime books are increasingly popular with the rise of these true crime podcasts, true crime documentaries and shows, as well as crime conventions. We want to tap into this market and will stock a range of true crime literature.”
In addition to stocking crime books, Criminally Good Books will have special themed events like author signings and fingerprint classes, as well as incorporating a recording studio for podcasters.
“We want to focus our efforts on providing our customers with a really great customer journey from the moment they enter the store.
“Our booksellers will be avid readers with specialist knowledge in sub-crime genres able to engage with customers and provide book and gift recommendations.”
For Isla, opening a bookshop has been a dream for years. She first started working in bookstores when she was 17, and has also had jobs in academic publishing and charity fundraising. Isla has loved books and reading since she was a child.
“My love of books started with my dad who worked for Harper Collins Publishers and who used to come home with bags of books on a weekly basis for the family to rummage through,” she said.
“We were brought up on Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot as well as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes.”
It was after lockdown that Isla decided it was time to chase her dream of owning her own bookshop. “My husband convinced me that now was the right time to set up Criminally Good Books, so I quit a well-paid job in London to follow my dream and spend more time with family.”
As well as a lifelong passion for reading crime fiction, Isla’s interest and fascination with true crime was furthered by the true crime podcast Switchblade Sisters Social Club, which is hosted by her friends Dee and Randa Safieh.
The reaction to Criminally Good Books has been “overwhelmingly positive” so far.
“We have met several authors over the last year either in person or on social media who when hearing about the store have asked to do events for us,” said Isla.
“People have messaged asking when we are opening, asking if they can work in the shop, if they can bring their well-behaved dogs in whilst they browse.
“The reaction from local independents has been great too with lots of shop owners offering their advice.”
The opening is particularly good news for York readers who have lost several independent bookshops in York in the last couple of years. Those to have closed included Fossgate Books on Fossgate, Ken Spelman on Micklegate, and The Grimoire Bookshop on High Petergate.
“York has a proud history linked to books, printing, and publishing. We want to continue and support the tradition of books in York, promote literacy, and support our community,” said Isla.
“We hope to be welcoming readers in the new year.”