So I find myself with a free bit of time for once and I thought this is something I would talk about.
If you’re like me and you find nothing more comforting than physical books, browsing in bookshops and libraries and spending as much time as is humanly possible surrounded by shelves overflowing (but well organised!) books, then you will understand that online giants like Amazon are killing our beloved bookshops. Of course, it is understandable why people prefer to buy books from places such as Amazon, it’s usually always cheaper to buy books and easier to find box sets and, let’s face it, sometimes you just don’t want to interact with people. And that’s great because Amazon and ebooks and audiobooks give us access to literature literally anywhere in the world, the world needs more books, but it impacts the bookshops, our high street stores, and worst of all, our libraries.
Growing up in Scotland, I’ve become accustomed to Waterstones being only of the biggest chain bookshops that are readily available in all major cities, with just a few standalone stores. Where I can, I will always buy my books from there and I tend to take any excuse to go into my nearest Waterstones to buy them, rather than online. (Except they have started to refurbish Waterstones stores and make them all fancy and modern and it makes me quite sad. It’s not quite so cosy there anymore). But I’m always interested in finding new, unique places to shop for my books. I was recently in Inverness and my younger brother introduced me to the secondhand bookshop there. Wow. Just… Wow. I’ve never been in anything like it. Found inside an old church, Leakey’s Bookshop in Inverness is something to behold. It is filled (literally overflowing) with old books, fiction and non-fiction, maps, journals, old-authentic sketches. It smells like old books and it feels comfortable, worn and comfortable. There are a lot of similar shops in Boston and they are just wonderful places to be. You feel life and death and love and hurt in the works lining the shelves and it is beauty.
I envy those with access to a Barnes and Nobles store because they are brilliant bookstores and there are often so many beautiful editions of books available. I visited one in Boston last in 2017 and it was definitely something to cross off of my bucket list. Charity shops are always excellent places to find books but so underrated. It gives to a good cause and you always find a great bargain. I bought my Series of Unfortunate Events books (all hardback, of the same edition, in excellent condition) in an Oxfam bookshop for less than £30 and, considering that you can’t seem to buy it cheaper than about £70 online or in shops, I’ll consider that a win.
Every town and city has a library and there is access for all, meaning that no matter what your background that you have access to such wonders. There is space to think and work and read, something that is so hard to find these days in our busy lives. Libraries are so underrated, undervalued but they are such a vital part of life of all ages. I did work experience in a library a few years back and it was one of the better experiences in my life, something I would return to if given half the chance. One of my favourite parts of the job, apart from being surround by books, was the people that came in. They came in from all walks of life, each with their own business and daily routine. But so many of them found the time to pop in for a little bit of downtime, each content to be in the company of so many loved and worn books. There are so many beautiful libraries all over the world too, it would be a shame to miss out on experiencing these places first hand.
But the shift to electronic versions of books is causing the shops and libraries to struggle, to always buy books online causes stock and variety to dwindle in shops and libraries and places to close. Electronic versions of books and online shopping work well within the busy and chaotic lives that we lead nowadays but it is still so important to find time for the paperbacks, quiet space local amenities. Support your local businesses, support your libraries, protect our quiet spaces. Donate old books to your library and find the time to visit that bookshop that you walk past but never go in rather than always turning to online stores. Make the memories and experience it all first hand.
Show me your local bookshops, libraries and favourite places to buy or loan your books. I want to enjoy these spaces with you.
Until next time,