Collected is a new independent bookshop now open in Durham City, specializing in work written by women. At Collected, the only thing we love more than talking about books is reading them, and we can't wait to talk and share books with you.
We have all sorts of reading delights for you to discover here on our website as well as in our new bookshop in Durham's Riverwalk, unit 44. You will find the shop a warm and welcoming place to visit, where you can browse and buy from our carefully curated collection as well as sit and read while enjoying a delicious coffee and cake . We are always happy to talk about and recommend books, and you can purchase in store, online, or via our affiliate site on bookshop.org. Alternatively, take a look at our subscriptions and book bundles – an ideal way to keep your own book supply well-stocked or to gift to others.
Collected grew from the heart and dreams of Emma Hamlett – lifelong bookworm and inveterate recommender of books. Describing herself as a “Covid cliché”, Emma exited stage left from her career as a museum curator in 2020 and began to explore what else might be possible. But, in everything she did and tried, there was no getting away from books. And so, in late 2021, the decision was made and Collected was born. Starting as an online and mobile shop, with Cordelia the bookshop van, the business moved into a 'bricks and mortar' shop in September 2022.
Why work by women?
With the likes of Margaret Atwood, Bernadine Evaristo, and Hilary Mantel winning critical acclaim, and Agatha Christie, J. K. Rowling, and Danielle Steel being some of the biggest-selling authors of all time, you might ask why focus on writing by women.
It is true that the bestseller lists are more evenly balanced between women and men than they used to be, but this is in spite of there still being a marked gender bias in publishing, the media, and reading habits. Fewer women than men have been shortlisted for and won the Booker Prize – which is perhaps not all that surprising when you learn that publishers put more books by men, and fewer books by women, forward for consideration. In a similar way, newspaper and magazine book reviews have been shown to look at fewer books by women than by men – but then those same periodicals commission more reviews from male critics than from female ones. And then perhaps most staggering are the findings of the recent study on diversity in GCSE English Literature by Penguin Random House and the Runnymede Trust – that less than 1% of students study work written by a person of colour, and less than 7% study work written by a female author.
More of the books that are put in front of us – reviewed, prized, and studied - come from the mind and the pen of men and, as it happens, also tend to be about men. And it is around these books that our reading habits form.
At Collected, we simply LOVE books and reading – and talking books and reading – and we think that lots of other people love books and reading, too! But what if most of us are just paddling in the shallows when there are depths into which we might be diving?
Let's jump in together.