There is a future…
This whole bookshop theme was started by finding out about the Barge Bookshop- a bookshop on a narrow boat. I was all for rushing to find it and buy books from it, but it seems it now specialises in ‘little libraries’. Sarah Henshaw, the owner, the owner, has written an excellent book, “The Bookshop that Floated Away”.
So, what bookshops are still around? Sadly, I can think of few. I have mentioned Foyles and Blackwells. All my ‘real’ books tend to come from Waterstones, who generally have a good selection. W.H. Smith seem to have a reasonable range, but smaller than in the past. After that.. I read that Haye on Wye is a gold mine. I hear rumours of lovely shops in out of the way places. I see very few independent booksellers. Why?
Sarah Henshaw of the Book Barge cites the familiar problems of Kindles, Amazon and the like. Ah yes, Kindles. I have one. There, I’ve admitted it. Why? Because there are lots of free and cheap books available. Money is an issue for most of us. A Kindle is very convenient if I’m away. I once horrified my new in-laws by taking a huge bag of books to Spain. As you can see, I have muddled collections of books all round the house; the Kindle keeps Mrs Oblique happier.
And, yes, I buy some books from Amazon. Price again, you see. I do know the issues involved, including tax. I can’t however blame people for the convenience of online shopping. But honestly, I have never been to a bookshop, found a book and gone home to get it cheaper online.
Charity booksellers must take a good deal of trade from independents. Again, there is the pleasure of finding the unexpected. I really love the little rows of books one finds being sold for funds in unexpected places, such as churches.
I still buy from bookshops. I have no answer to the death of the independent bookshop. I wish I had the money to regularly use them- if I could find them. My resolution is to buy something from every one I come across.
Since starting this post, I found the following link which proves there are some bookshops alive and selling out there. Let me know of any you recommend, especially in Hampshire.