One of the best loved small shops in Bucks is closing down.

When news spread on the grapevine last weekend there was an emotional outpouring on social media. It came from customers who regard The Cottage Bookshop in Penn as an institution.

With 65,000 secondhand hard backs and paperbacks crammed onto the shelves, some two deep, it was standing room only most Saturdays until e-books enabled the minimalist generation to read from a tablet and avoid spoiling the clutter-free surfaces in their designer homes.

A message from owner Allan Campbell on the bookshop website this week states: “After 60 years of trading, it is now no longer a viable business.

"It is with regret I have had to make the sad decision to close. We will continue to trade as long as possible. I would like to thank all our loyal customers who have supported us over the years.”

According to a recent report, bookshop numbers in the UK have halved in the past seven years.

Sixty seven independently-owned stores closed last year. The secondhand bookshop in Penn is the latest victim of lifestyles that have adapted to the age of technology.

Speaking to the Free Press on Monday Mr Campbell said he had already received a few inquiries.

The shop officially comes on the market on Friday through the Wycombe office of Keegan White.

The asking price is £650,000, not including the stock which isn’t limited to what’s on display.

The bookshop is in a traffic free narrow lane off the main road that runs through the village. It still looks like the cottage it once was.  

The windows are larger than when it was the home of the district nurse at the beginning of the last century but otherwise the outward character of the building hasn’t changed even though there has been a changing cast of occupiers since the nurse finally pedalled off to a new abode.

After she left, the cottage became first a fish and chip shop, then a branch of Barclays Bank; in the Second World War it was a store where sugar was kept during rationing, then it became Gravestock’s electrical shop, following that the village cobbler Fred Baker set up business there until in 1951, Mr Campbell’s father-in-law Fred Baddeley was able to buy it.  

Mr Baddeley and his brother had been born in the house next door, now a music shop, previously an antique shop but in the early years of the last century it was his family’s general store.

Fred Baddeley worked for the Chesham Building Society. He was on the board by the time his son-in-law married his daughter Wendy in 1972.

“Fred loved books,” Allan remembers. “After buying the cottage, he put a dozen books in the window for a shilling each. When they sold quickly it sowed the seed which led to it becoming a business. Eventually he retired from the building society and ran the bookshop.”

Over the years the quirky character of the shop has attracted location managers looking for a backdrop for  scenes in a TV series.

Twice it has been used as a set for Midsomer Murders – once for an episode called Tale of Two Hamlets and more recently for the backdrop to A Rare Bird.  

The producers of Blue Peter have also used it twice so have the production team on The Chuckle Brothers. It’s also believed to have been the inspiration for the late author Terry Pratchetts’ library in his Discworld novels.

After Fred Baddeley died in the early 1990s, Wendy took over the shop. Following her death in 2003, the ownership passed to her husband. Before he retired Mr Campbell was an NVQ verifier, having been an assessor prior to that for 10 years.

He gives most of the credit for the long running success of the bookshop to the highly knowledgeable five-strong front of house team who operate a rota, especially the manager who has worked for the family firm for more than 40 years.

“When a customer asks for a specific book, if they don’t know instantly whether they have a copy in stock they’ll point them to where it’s likely to be and nine times out of ten, they’ll find the actual book in five minutes.”

More details about the sale The Cottage Bookshop in Elm Road, Penn from the agents Keegan White (01494  417007).