Purchasing from Independent Bookshops: A User’s Guide


So, 2013 was The Year Of Buying No Books. It is time to ask, as Jerry Springer, might say: ‘What have we learned?’ First of all, I learned that I have a number of wonderful books on my shelves. I learned that The Great Gatsby really is still great, that it is possible to read Keri Hulme’s The Bone People but not really worth the bother, and that Stef Penney’s The Tenderness Of Wolves is one of the best novels of the 21st century. Of any century. Secondly, I learned that it is actually far easier not to buy any books than I had thought possible. Addict and fix, lunatic and sweetshop – insert your own bon mot here. There was no frothing at the mouth. No embarrassing scenes where I was escorted from the Non-Fiction section berating my carers. No, healthy English pluck and a fervent commitment to an important project were the trusty tools I employed to see this year-long business through. Plus, I cheated. Only twice. And very smally. Full disclosure: in December – which is so close to January as to make no difference by any rational measure – I bought a second-hand copy of Pears’ Cyclopaedia 2008-09 at my daughter’s school’s Christmas bazaar. This is simply good manners. And its duck-egg blue cover looked pretty. Ditto my second cheat: somehow finding myself ordering Christmas presents in person at the fabulous Big Green Bookshop in Wood Green, north London, I could hardly leave without buying something. It being a bookshop, the only thing to buy was a book. I mean, yes, I had technically already purchased two on order, but I wasn’t actually carrying them out of the shop. And the man behind the counter looked mournful. Hence, Leviathan by Philip Hoare. Shoot me. So to 2014: my new pledge is that I shall only buy from the little guy – hence Purchasing from Independent Bookshops: A User’s Guide. In effect this simply means crippling myself financially by paying the full price for tomes. I can see 2015 being another bookless year. But we are getting ahead of ourselves: for the next 12 months there are many booksellers on the breadline who need me. It is a civic duty, a calling if you will…


One thought on “Purchasing from Independent Bookshops: A User’s Guide

  1. Phew, so glad to discover you are still here. I feared Dickens might have left the building and not just the room with the passing of 2013, but a great revisit to A Prayer for Owen Meany (1989 I think) A great start to 2014

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