Sunday, December 09, 2012

Bookstores, Second-hand

An elegiac article from Theodore Dalrymple in the Telegraph about the slow demise of the second-hand bookstore. It is a thing to be regretted, but he is wise enough to know that fulminations and grandiose plans to arrest their imminent doom are useless and foolish. Here is the best paragraph.
Customers of second-hand booksellers, such as I, are also a rum lot. What kind of person spends two-and-a-half hours in a shop and then havers indecisively over whether he really wants a copy of Augustine Birrell’s (unjustly) forgotten essays marked at £3? If he fails to buy it, he will regret it the moment the shop has closed or he can’t get back to it. If, on the other hand, he (and customers are almost always he) buys a book that his wife will find outrageously expensive by comparison, say, with a pair of shoes, or even a single shoe, he will ask the bookseller to rub out the price. All booksellers are so familiar with this pattern that they are ready with their rubbers even as their customers buy.
And if you liked that, here's another article he write a few years back on the same topic.