Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Bookshops - Do you buy new or secondhand?

I made a little observation recently while I was sitting in a corner of a Waterstones book store desperately hoping to sell some books, or at the very least entice someone to speak with me for a minute or two. Looking around at the neatly organized shelves, I saw the bright, shiny, clean covers of new books fresh from the printing press. I love the smell of a new book. I love the texture, and the way you can smooth your hand over the covers knowing that it holds treasures and adventures yet to be discovered.

 Independent bookshops are a dying breed on the British high street these days, so whenever I do come across such a place on my travels, I have to step inside just to experience the cornucopia of pleasure that it contains. I have to inhale the smell of new books, admire the artwork on the covers, hold a paperback and a hardback in my hands one after the other, and simply worship the magnificent tome, whatever its subject matter.

High street bookshops are all very well in their place. I enjoy visiting Waterstones, and I appreciate what they do for the industry. But my heart will always be in the old days. By that I mean I absolutely adore secondhand bookshops. They sit nestled in fabulous old buildings, usually medieval or eighteenth century. I step over the threshold into a dimly lit interior, and the smell of old books hits me like the welcome aroma of hot chocolate on a cold day. One thing I notice is that although these bookshops are dimly lit, you can always see all of the books with amazing clarity!

Then there are those crazy, obscure places that match the ethos of eccentric Britain. This is my territory! Only in Britain can you find a bookshop literally in the gardens of an ancient castle. This one is at Hay-on-Wye in Wales, just over the border from Herefordshire in England. Hay-on-Wye is known as 'the book town' and it is wonderful! Here you have a mixture of bookshops for old and new, but my favourite has to be the castle bookshop...

Do you have a favourite bookshop? Indeed, do you even bother with good old-fashioned books anymore, or are you an advocate for the e-reader? Please share your thoughts and observations...

1 comment:

  1. What a lovely description you have made of the different outlets for getting hold of that all important book/s.
    It reminds me of one occasion at work when we had a delivery of books from these reps that call in on a regular basis. As usual there was the little huddle of people seeing what was on offer and admiring/commenting on their particular choice. I remember holding a book and fanning myself with the pages so that I could breath in the 'newness smell' of the pages. This then led to another discussion among ourselves about other people's like of doing this 'ritual'. As usual there were also comments from those who thought we were completely mad.