Friday, 17 July 2009

where have all the second hand books gone

so today, among other reasons, i headed into stirling with the thought that, it being a universoty town and all, there must be classics sections in the second hand book stores. of the definite possibilities, two are now shut, one the owner died and the other i think just went out of business. and now the final one, it turns out is a shoe shop, or boutique.

so many shops are closed yet people seem to be going about as if nothing is happening. there is a proliferation of coffee shops and a few people are in those but not enough to sustain a business i wouldn't have thought. and even in the shopping centres there seems less old people, tho it wasn't so cold today.

have the book stores been driven out of business by the charities? i've heard of this pressure in london so maybe. certainly oxfam has a book store but it seems a bit of a slow time for them. no classics. not a one. unless you count the morte d'arthur. which at least had the quality of being old going for it. almost everything else was numbingly contemporary, a pattern which manifested itself in the next four charity shops i went to.

the sum total of classic fiction i came across was a copy of the woman in white. other than that nothing. no poetry, no plays, nothing. i recalled a conversation i'd had with andrew about his hopes for buying some classics while in the uk - not much hope i'd said, nobody reads them and on this outing i'd say that view has been depressingly confirmed. either that or people are so into them they never give them away!

but where do all the old books go. i have an image in my head of that character in the bohumil hrabal book - is it too loud a solitude? - where the main character is gradually buried under the waste manuscripts he's charged with disposing of.

oh well, down to town tomorrow to continue the search. in the meantime the kicking i've given my immune system appears to have resulted in a cold. i can scarcely believe it. the bike is looking at me and seems to be sighing. i don't blame it...


Titus said...

Second-hand bookshop in our largest local village has also sadly died recently.

I have noticed, however, that the best finds are in the Church Fetes and other such unlikely community-type events. It seems that people donating with no hope of monetary return have good taste.

Get well soon! Summer colds always seem a bit of an insult to me.

apprentice said...

Hi Swiss, it is a shame that they are all disappearing -overheads I fear!

I used to love all the ones that were around the West Port in Edinburgh.

But this is an amazing site for seconhand books, provided you know what your after:

Rachel Fox said...

Yes, lots sold online - so cheap can shops compete.

There's always the library...


swiss said...

cold and flu have passed at last but appear to have left me with hayfever which is a bit of a puzzle

there's still a few old book stores aorund the west port. i got a really nice wee leaflet for them at stanza this year. there seems to be some involvement with the anon magazine but i couldn't quite figure it out!

there are plenty of second hand online stores, as you point out but it just isn't the same as a good musty browse. and i do miss those old covers!

apprentice said...

On book covers I will hopefully pick this up second hand some day:

I agree you can't beat a good rummage. Some of the charity shops up the High St in Edinburgh have excellennt book shelves, as does Stockbridge

swiss said...

i have this very book on my wish list of things that would be nice to have but not really essential, along with one on penguins that appears similar.

both however are languishing far behind the documentary helvetica which will be arriving on my doorstep next month. just the thought of it gives me a warm fuzzy feeling!