Mostly Books interview – World Book Day 2024

 In Indie Oxford Interviews

I had the absolute pleasure to chat with Sarah Dennis, owner of Mostly Books, recently. She kindly gave up some time ahead of World Book Day – one of the busiest times of the year for her and the team at Mostly Books. With her dog Alfie panting in the background, I got to ask her a few of my burning questions…

Alfie and Sarah Dennis Mostly Books

Is there a book that changed everything for you? One that made you decide to build a career around literature?

“Ironically, we ask that question on our podcast, ‘Mostly Books Meets…’ For me, there was one book in particular that changed my business mindset. It’s called Anyone Can Do It, written by the brother and sister business moguls behind Coffee Republic.

My mum actually gave me the book after I quit my job and went travelling. It’s an amazing read, and incredibly inspiring.

If anyone is thinking about doing something crazy and starting a new business, I tell them to read it. Although Coffee Republic is a major corporation, the principle behind how it started is the same as any small, independent business.”

Can you tell me a little more about how Mostly Books came about?

“I come from a finance background. I had an incredibly busy career, working globally, and then one day I thought, this isn’t for me. So I quit my job and went travelling for a year.

My mum gave me the book I mentioned above, and then I decided that books was where my future lay.

Mostly Books in Abingdon already existed before I bought it. It was founded in 2006 and the owners were selling as one half of the couple was a published author and wanted to focus on her writing.

So we took over in 2017 and it was a testing time at the start. The shop was well loved by locals and I think they were worried I was going to come in and change everything.

But, we took Mostly Books to a whole new level. We make sure everything is high quality – from the experience you have in our shop, to the outreach we do with schools, to the events we host regularly.

I wanted to foster and continue the sense of community, something really important to me, so we do a lot of outreach with schools. It’s constant!

In 2021, we also bought a 50-year-old bookshop in Stow-on-the-Wold, called Borzoi Bookshop (named after the ex-owners dog breed – books and dogs seem to go hand in hand!)

We’re a great team, we all love books, and we all love what we do – it’s so important to have that when you’re running a small, independent business.

But 2023 was a hard year. The cost of living crisis, and the general cost of maintaining a small business, took its toll. Our customers are so aware of how expensive everything is now, that it’s affected our sales and people attending our events.

I hope this year will be better, and people realise how vital it is to keep shopping with local businesses, especially the smaller ones.”

I’m an avid reader and am making conscious choices these days about where I buy my books – it’s no longer Amazon! Do you think I’m alone or are you seeing a change in customer purchasing?

“There is definitely a set of conscious customers who focus on supporting businesses like mine. Especially pre and post pandemic, we noticed an increase in people specifically saying that they’re happy to pay £2 more to buy from us rather than places like Amazon. 

We hear it a lot in the shop, how they feel that their high street matters, our business matters, and they’re willing to shop here instead of online.

Having said that, it’s key that we continue to encourage the love of books and reading. So often, if we see that someone is concerned about the price of a book, we tell them to buy from We still get a cut, and it’s more supportive of independent bookshops like ours.

There’s an assumption that the cheapest books can be found on Amazon, but we’ve noticed this isn’t always the case. Some discounts are not great and therefore it’s actually better to buy from us or another independent bookshop!”

Mostly Books close up

Obviously, we’re chatting to you because World Book Day is coming up – how are you celebrating?

“It’s a huge week and as much as it’s tiring, I absolutely love it. Every year, we celebrate in the shop with author events, World Book Day books, fancy dress and prizes.

Outside of the shop, we continue with our outreach and visit schools. This year, we’re going to 4 schools in the county. Three are places we’ve been before, but I’m so happy that we have a new one on our roster!”

And now, for the impossible question – what’s your favourite book? Maybe of all time, or one that you’ve read recently that you want to tell everyone about!

You can’t choose your favourite book, that’s like trying to choose your favourite child!

I have to say that one book that has truly moved me recently is Alice Winn’s In Memoriam. This is the first time in 7 years that the whole Mostly Books team has read the same book, at the same time, and had the same reaction.

It is phenomenal.

The story revolves around two boys who meet at school – there is an unrequited, confusing and unacknowledged love. Their friendship is broken up as they go to fight in WW1. I don’t want to say anymore because I don’t want to ruin it.

It’s just beautiful, heart-breaking, stunning, and so sad.

We’re so thrilled that the author will be joining us for an event at the end of the month. I can’t wait to meet her and tell her how much I loved her debut.”


You can find Mostly Books in the heart of Abingdon, on Stert Street.

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  • Mrs Fiona M Perkins

    And we are so glad you are in Abingdon with your team Sarah, along with the books there is so many gift ideas and a fabulous selection of cards, my go to shop for birthday cards, book and even wrapping paper #onestopshop

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