The South West encompasses an area of predominantly rural England stretching from the Midlands and the Welsh Marches down to Britain's most westerly point at Land's End in Cornwall. Cities are few with small market towns being the norm.
Sadly, the number of non-charity bookshops in Bristol has continued to decline, reduced to barely half the number it enjoyed some years ago. One can only hope that the fact that five charity bookshops continue to trade successfully will encourage more independents to have a go.
Cornwall has a scattering of shops along its three main tourist routes but most of them are to be found around Truro, Penzance, and Falmouth. Truro still has two established bookshops, both of which are worth a visit, but there have been two recent closures in Falmouth. Penzance Rare Books closed at the end of 2008, but the reopening of Newlyn Books in new premises in Penzance is good news. And up on the moors, Bodmin currently boasts two shops.
Devon's bookshops tend to be concentrated along the coasts, particularly around Barnstaple and Bideford in the north and Exeter and Plymouth in the south. The Dartmoor Bookshop in Ashburton is still worth a visit, while the three bookshops in nearby Totnes offer a great diversity of stock. Honiton to the east claims to have "three of the best secondhand and antiquarian bookshops in the West Contry", but Honiton Old Bookshop is now by appointment only.
Bookshops are still fairly plentiful in Gloucestershire, with the greatest concentration around Cheltenham and Stroud. In the south of the county, Wotton-under-Edge once again has a bookshop. In Cheltenham Peter Lyons Books is good for art, children's and modern firsts, Moss Books has a brisk turnover, and there are now no less than three charity bookshops.
Extraordinary as it seems, Bath is now reduced to three shops, but the prestigious George Bayntun and the multi-dealer Bath Old Books are still worth a visit. Crewkerne in the south of the county has two shops, including Gresham Books. Rothwell And Dunworth in Dulverton are worth a visit, particularly if you are interested country pursuits.
With the closure of Water Lane and Ellwood Books, Salisbury and is currently home to only one of Wiltshire's rather thinly spread shops. Anthony Spranger's closure reduced Marlborough's bookshops to just two, but there are books in the Antique market as well. Bradford on Avon, once something of a Mecca in the early 90's now has no bookshops at all.