P&G Wells is an independent bookshop, near Winchester Cathedral, which is approaching its 300th anniversary. 

The earliest P&G Wells record found is from 1729.

Steve Scholey, the manager, said: “The opportunity to share the importance of being interested, especially for youngsters is my favourite thing about working in a bookshop.

“We enjoy helping to find exactly the right book for a customer and are pleased to support our customer’s mental wellbeing – something we were made particularly aware of during the lockdowns.”

The Covid-19 pandemic saw a significant increase in a love for literature, most likely due to more time at home and therefore an opportunity to slow down.

During the first lockdown in spring 2020, children and young people's enjoyment of reading increased from 47.8 per cent pre-lockdown to 55.9 per cent post-lockdown, as revealed by the National Literary Trust.

Steve said: “I love to be entertained, to find a bit of escapism, to be enlightened or to be challenged. Great fiction releases the imagination in a way that moving pictures just can’t. And I find many TV documentaries annoyingly dumbed down. A good book gives you time to take it all in.” 

It is understandable that today, many find it difficult to make time for reading, on top of work, school, family and general daily life.

Steve said: “I guess it’s like riding a bicycle – while you’re not going to forget how, reading regularly is a great way to exercise your mental health and wellbeing.”

Reading offers an opportunity to escape the present and transport yourself somewhere else for a while. Building reading into your daily routine by setting aside an amount of time each day can help to make it a bigger part of your life.

Steve said: “Reading doesn’t have to involve a major time commitment. How about a chapter each evening to help settle you down to sleep?”

Picking up a book before bed can, as well as offering literary comfort, give you a break from screen time, relieve stress and even give an improved quality of sleep.

In our world of today, there is no doubt that many have become consumed by the rapid development of technology, which may be the thing drawing many of us further and further away from the love of a book.

Steve said: “I think it is important to learn something new every day. A book by its nature will be a more considered view than we can absorb through other channels.”

Whilst the figures suggest that UK book sales have reduced, Steve is not so certain. 

He said: “I’m not convinced that people are reading less. Yes, many people have moved to electronic books, but they don’t lend themselves to skipping back a few pages or annotating the margins. The perfect physical form of ‘real’ books hasn’t changed much in centuries, and I doubt will be disappearing anytime soon.”  

  • This article was written by Olivia Wilks, from Peter Symonds College, as part of Newsquest's Young Reporter Scheme.