A CHERISHED family-run and independent book shop in Taunton celebrates 35 years in town this year since being founded in 1989.

Brendon Books, in Bath Place, is run by Lionel and Jo Ward and has seen generations of customers since first opening in the late eighties.

“The lovely thing about being here for so long is remembering grown-ups from when they were children," Jo said.

“They came into buy children's books when they were little and now they come and bring their children in."

The owners of the charming shop, which spans 2,200 square feet over two floors packed with over 15,000 books, pride themselves on their connection with Taunton.Somerset County Gazette: The shop stocks almost 20,000 books.The shop stocks almost 20,000 books. (Image: NQ Staff)

In 2014, Brendon Books became a community interest company, meaning all of its profits go towards benefitting the community.

“We felt so embedded and close to the community – it was probably at a time when things were difficult for all shops," Lionel said.

“It felt so natural for us because we’d been here so long and we’d put on so many talks.

“It seemed like a natural direction for us to go.”

Each year, the local book shops hosts around 50 talks from local and national authors, including those which take place at Taunton Literary Festival, run by Lionel and Jo.Somerset County Gazette: Brendon Books also offers a large selection of children's books.Brendon Books also offers a large selection of children's books. (Image: NQ Staff)

The shop stocks a wide array of both new and used books – something Lionel and Jo feel has helped business during the cost-of-living crisis and the decline of in-person shopping since the coronavirus pandemic.

“We’ve noticed at the moment, times are tough for people, they are very cautious," Lionel said.

“You can just pick up something for £2 or £3 second hand rather than an expensive new book.

“What I love is that discovering a new book/author is fabulous.

“Sometimes, you can come across something really fascinating from 50 years ago that you’d never known about.

“It’s something that you can't do anywhere else in town."Somerset County Gazette: Every sort of book you could possibly imagine can be found over the shop's two floors.Every sort of book you could possibly imagine can be found over the shop's two floors. (Image: NQ Staff)

Brendon Books attracts literature lovers from as far as Exmoor coming in to pick up a book, even though an online delivery service is offered.

And it's this that sets the book shop apart from others, as Lionel and Jo hold high value for their relationships with those who come into the store.

“I think a lot of our customers are friends, I really do," said Lionel.

“Sometimes we will get asked about books to recommend – we do talk about books, we talk about family, each other's children…

“People sometimes come in for a chat, sometimes a grumble."Somerset County Gazette: Lionel and Jo always enjoy a chat with their customers.Lionel and Jo always enjoy a chat with their customers. (Image: NQ Staff)

Those who work at the shop are treated with respect and care, and Lionel recalls a time he helped a young woman on work experience to get into university through clearing.

During a shift, Lionel spoke with several institutions over the phone and helped her get into Cheltenham University - and she eventually went on to become a drama teacher.

"We couldn’t do it without our volunteers. We couldn't manage without them," Lionel said.

“Thanks for supporting us for all these years, we do appreciate it."