I’m in a bit of a quandry here. I love book shops. I love the smell, I love picking up a book and having a quick glance. Book shops have this wonderful atmosphere, similar to libraries. You know a wonderful world of adventure awaits and all it takes is to find the right book. So in a way its a bit like pot luck, always searching for the book that’ll get you hooked.
And then there is the staff. The best shops have the sort of staff you wish you could work with. Always helpful, sometimes offering a beverage (where do they get these people from?!) and just generally being great.
Here’s my problem. Not all book vendors are created equal (let’s not get into books being sold at the supermarket. I’m just as guilty, but it isn’t right). There are the awesome sort of book shops that I described above and then there are discount book shops.
The atmosphere is totally different in a discount book shop. In my experience (let me stress this point here and now. I have not been to every book shop ever so I can’t comment on all of them) they are filled with, how can I describe this? Books that you can’t seem to buy anywhere else. Is this a good thing? It depends on what you are after.
At the risk of sounding snobby (okay, fine, I’m being really snobby here) books at discount stores seem to be of a lesser quality. I don’t know, perhaps its just me, after all when they are sat on the shelf, I can’t tell them apart.
Anyway, back to my quandry. Today I spent a grand total of three pounds sterling on three books (that’s right, one pound each). This is ridiculously cheap. There is a reason for this. They were bought at a discount bookshop that was having a closing down sale.
So being snobby (I think we’ve established this point) I should feel happy about the shop closing, but I’m not. Going through the books on display made me feel like a vulture picking the meat off a corpse. Dare I say it, I felt a little, dirty.
I don’t want to see bookshops go under, no matter what they are like. But what can I do to save them? Perhaps I should get off my overfed western backside and do something rather than just complain about the disintegration of the high street. Now there’s a novel idea.