Thursday, July 09, 2009

Restoring my faith in independent bookshops

Spent part of my lunch hour at Topping & Co, Bookseller in Ely. It isn't huge, but it does restore your faith in the bookselling business.

Unlike the big chains, the fiction shelves weren't crammed with the latest, ephemeral titles, prised into the shop by publishers as 3-for-the-price-of-2s.

I can't say I recognized every book on the shelves (that would spoil the fun). I thought I could pick the main theme though. Whoever buys for this shop loves good books, in all their idiosyncracy, stubbornness, contrariness, brilliance. Books, mostly, that will still be good books a generation from now. Today's publishers, in contrast, seem to worship me-tooism and celebrity and the moment.

They love hardbacks at Toppings, and good luck to them. I wish I had enough money to buy a hardback every time. They hold very frequent author evenings with your ticket price redeemable against the (presumably) signed, hardback price. Sometimes they hold the evenings in the shop, at others, at the local village hall, which (this being Ely) happens to be an 11th century Cathedral.

Books aren't products. People aren't consumers. Books are filet of mind and people are people. May this shop last as long as the Cathedral has.

Friday, July 03, 2009