Saturday, August 18, 2012

Disappearing bookshops

In the world of books and authors and the business people among them, things and people come and go just like everywhere else. Stephen Covey, familiar isn't he?, of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People fame passed away at 79 last month, July 16th. Bookseller Irving Oaklander, is also dead at 88 on August 8th. I am not very familiar with Oaklander but certain words in a tribute written for him by Steven Heller endears me to the kind of person he was -

"... he kept a booth at the Greenwich Village Antiquarian Book Fair... beckoning all passersby to feast their eyes as they page through the material.... He invited me to his Upper West Side book business... the main bookcase -the spines said it all. Indeed, Irving had them all. Every classic and many obscure volumes that I would have died for then... Irving was the Trader Joe of rare design books."

It's not just book people leaving. Bookshops are too. With the full-blown utilization of the internet our reading lives have been revolutionized by e-readers. Amazon, what a giant! We see traditional bookshops disappearing. We mourn, yes and then what? Mourning does not exactly resurrect dead bookshops.

 (Photo credit: beckvalleybooks)

Fortunately everything is not dead or lost yet. Hope is alive as there are still a few bookstores existing around us. This is where we are advised to invest in our hope. In other words stop lamenting and put your money behind what you love. When a bookstore is in danger of being closed down, do something.

St Mark's Bookshop in New York is in danger of being closed down due to high rental costs. Karen the Small Press Librarian lists ten reasons why people should help the bookshop survive. The scenario is not so different from the future of other bookstores anywhere else in the world. There is one among Karen's reasons that I think we can relate with - the bookshop is "not just a place that sells (and curates) culture and history, it IS living history." Isn't it quite compelling when put like that? Any book lover in his right mind and heart would not be willing to part with such a thing of beauty as a bookshop without first putting up a fight, i.e. investing in hope.


  1. I'm a librarian, and I would never want to part with my books. Ebooks and readers can never take the place of good old books. Reading for me is a total experience. Call me weird, but when I read, I like to smell the pages.
    Ye Old Book Shoppes need reviving. Yes, they are a part of culture and history.

  2. me and my kids love going to bookshops, especially during book sale, i really allot a budget in buying good books to read. my youngest son prefers to read the printed book over ebooks too.

    i agree with what had Pepper said :)

  3. Reminds me of the movie You Got Mail with Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks. I personally love these novelty bookshops. They really know their stuff, and you could find some treasures here. I just hope that this one doesn't bite the dust like what happened to the Shop Around the Corner in the movie.

  4. It's right, bookshops now are disappearing. It's rare to see bookshops especially in the rural areas.

  5. We do not go to book shops except when there is a book fair at my kids' school. I always buy books for them to read.

  6. I hope traditional bookshops won't disappear altogether. There will always be a market for books and reading materials.

  7. It's sad that in the advent of ebooks, book shops are disappearing. I still prefer reading soft and hard bound books rather than ebooks.

  8. Oh I love books! That's why I love book shops :p

  9. You've got mail, Notting Hill :) These were films involving bookshops and I love them both, it's quite heartbreaking to see bookshops close, I like going in to corner bookshops, they are just like a treasure trove of trinkets...I still love holding a book than holding an e-reader---I bet you too!

  10. The ebook is killing the book industry. I am wondering if the future generations would still be able to feel and smell book pages. :(



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