Bookstores. Second hand bookstores. Just the smell is intoxicating. I think the perfect date for me would be a picnic planned in an obscure low-traffic bookstore with big comfy chairs. Spend the entire afternoon among the dusty books with a picnic basket of comforting but not book-dangerous foods… as the basket empties of yummy foods, we fill it up with yummy book finds to take away. In my fantasy the bookstore is just mine and my date(s). So maybe the most practical way to achieve that would be rent the bookstore and have an overnight bibliophile slumber party?
How many hours, among the happiest of my life, have I spent in the dusty, damp or dismal purlieus of second-hand bookshops, where mummified silverfish, faded pressed flowers and very occasionally love letters are to be found in books long undisturbed on their shelves. With what delight do I find the word ”scarce’’ pencilled in on the flyleaf by the bookseller, though the fact that the book has remained unsold for years, possibly decades, suggests that purchasers are scarcer still.
Alas, second-hand bookshops are closing daily, driven out of business by the combination of a general decline in reading, the internet and that most characteristic of all modern British institutions, the charity shop. Booksellers tell me that 90 per cent of their overheads arise from their shops, and 90 per cent of their sales from the internet. Except for the true antiquarian dealers, whose customers are aficionados of the first…
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