The Death of a Bookshop

The signs.

“Buy 1 book get 3 free!”

“70% off on all books”

Empty shelves. Unkempt books. The last remains of a once popular bookshop. The couches and beanbags tossed to a side.

Second hand dealers making away with carton loads of books, emptying the shelves as we browse. The death rattle for what was once a bustling refuge for the lettered class of society.

I had never watched a bookshop close in this fashion before. Imagine the state of Foyles in London if that were to close in this way. It seems to me only a matter of time. Amazon will claim many more lives in the coming years.

The scenes I describe are not in London , but India. The bookshop I saw closing is not a cute little independent seller, but a large chain. But the signs are disconcerting nonetheless.

Though I hope the death of the bookshop may take a while, when it does come it may in fact be worse in London than what I saw. In Kochi I saw vultures – not browsing but taking – books in cartons which may then be resold somewhere and have another life. In London when this does happen, I feel there will not even be any interest from the dealers since they would have long vanished themselves. It would be a quiet affair. There will be offers :

All books for free. Everything must go.

Note: This post was written in September 2013, when a remarkably similar post seems to have been written about My Back Pages in Balham, London.

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