The Rise And Fall Of A Secondhand Bookshop

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  • CoolHandBondCoolHandBond Mactan IslandPosts: 4,041MI6 Agent

    Happy to see there are some secondhand bookshops still in your area, Silhouette Man. I always enjoy going into some when I return to England to visit family and friends, but there always seems to be less and less every time ☹️

    Yeah, well, sometimes nothin' can be a real cool hand.
  • Silhouette ManSilhouette Man The last refuge of a scoundrelPosts: 7,689MI6 Agent
    edited May 24

    Yes, they are a big part of the lifeblood of the cultural future of our towns and cities so long may they continue. That said, I'm afraid several good secondhand bookshops or charity shops that sell books in my local area have closed over the last decade. That regrettably includes a very good secondhand bookshop in my nearest town which sadly closed down in September 2014. It was my first experience with a secondhand bookshop as a child and I regularly visited it and bought books from it right up until its closure. The owner blamed its eventual closure on a grocery shop in the same town which had a big charity table of secondhand books for sale at around 20p - 50p each. It raised tens of thousands of pounds for the charity involved but obviously the bookshop owner couldn't compete with those sorts of charity prices and still make a profit so he was eventually forced to close. I'm sure there were other factors at play too but that was certainly one of them that led to him hastening his retirement.

    I was later told by another bookseller who knew him that he had still a wry sense of humour about his competitor in the book world as he had an imitation tin of Heinz Baked Beans on his shelves placed along with his books. I remember seeing the bean can on the shelves myself but never thought anything of it (as there were other odds and ends on the shelves too) until the other bookseller told me about what it meant. If they were going to start to sell books he would start to "sell" groceries! You could call it a kind of visual representation of Stewart Lee's joke recounted above about the inappropriateness of supermarkets or grocery stores selling books and undercutting independent booksellers and ultimately putting them out of business.

    "The tough man of the world. The Secret Agent. The man who was only a silhouette." - Ian Fleming, Moonraker (1955).
  • Silhouette ManSilhouette Man The last refuge of a scoundrelPosts: 7,689MI6 Agent
    edited June 2

    Here's an interesting article from the Guardian on a scheme to benefit authors by means of secondhand sales of their books as well as the primary sales when their books are new. I thought this quote from the article was especially interesting:

    Previously, authors could only receive royalties on sales of new books, but the growth of the used book market, which is predicted to be worth £563m in the UK by 2025, had seen calls for a new approach to writer remuneration.

    So who's to say the secondhand book market in the UK is dead yet with those type of projected figures? Of course that's presumably counting online sales as well but it's evidently a service people still want so bricks and mortar secondhand bookshops should hopefully benefit too.

    https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/amp.theguardian.com/books/2021/jun/01/authors-to-earn-royalties-on-secondhand-books-for-first-time

    "The tough man of the world. The Secret Agent. The man who was only a silhouette." - Ian Fleming, Moonraker (1955).
  • 007Downunder007Downunder Hobart, Australia Posts: 312MI6 Agent

    Fantastic story can’t believe just saw it. I too loved second hand book shops as a kid. I saw a reference to JT Edson I loved them from about 9 to 14 years old. I had dozens of them. Anyway whilst clearing out under the house I found a bag of water ruined cowboy books most JT.

    In a fit of nostalgia I decided I’d get them all He wrote 137 books I still had about 25. I live in a capital city but no second hand shops. So as commented upon went to the internet and after a couple of months had them all . I think for one hard to get one I paid about $140 ( an indulgence for a slim paperback).

    again thanks for sharing this .

    Anthony
  • CoolHandBondCoolHandBond Mactan IslandPosts: 4,041MI6 Agent

    Wow, what a feat to own the entire JT Edson collection!

    JT Edson sold very well (The Floating Outfit was his most popular series), and I had a lot of loyal collectors of the Western genre.

    Yeah, well, sometimes nothin' can be a real cool hand.
  • 007Downunder007Downunder Hobart, Australia Posts: 312MI6 Agent

    I belonged to his fan club as a kid got his newsletter and signed photo great fun. I drifted away with Robert Ludlum, Wilbur Smith, Frederick Forsyth, Alistair Maclean . But after 40 year break I’m really enjoying JT.

    One the one hand internet opened up availability to all books but now no longer get the joy of surprise when one saw a book in a store.

    Anthony
  • The Domino EffectThe Domino Effect Posts: 3,203MI6 Agent

    As wonderful as the internet is for books (and it is!), there's still nothing quite like the musty smell of a second hand bookshop - especially if it has a bell that rings as you enter/exit! You never know what you will find amid the shelves and that makes the thrill of the hunt and the thrill of the capture all that much more exciting. Granted I have found things on the internet that I likely would never have found in-person or that it would have taken me decades to find, but the excitement is just not the same.

  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 31,524Chief of Staff

    Especially when in a strange town, and you seek out or stumble across a bookshop you've never been in before. Maybe this one will have that elusive edition you're after...?

  • CoolHandBondCoolHandBond Mactan IslandPosts: 4,041MI6 Agent

    Whilst most customers were quietly pleased to have found an elusive book, I did have customers who whooped and hollered, one who danced crazily like the guy at the Jump Up club, and some who actually cried. One customer was sobbing so much that we had to make him a cup of tea, he had found a copy of a book that his late father had left him and had been accidentally thrown away, he had been searching for a replacement for many years in the pre-internet days.

    I had customers who refused to use the internet to buy books as the fun was taken away, unfortunately not enough of them, sadly 🙁

    But today, like 007Downunder stated, many have no choice as second-hand bookshops are a rarity.

    Yeah, well, sometimes nothin' can be a real cool hand.
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