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Why Second Hand Bookshops?

 

When families, nice kind well educated people, bring their books into the shop to sell, if the buyers are under 40, the books are all of a kind, the children's are Harry Potter and Horrible Histories, the adults are war, recent politics and modern novels.  There is no depth and breadth to the reading, and no wonder.  When I pop into a new bookshop, which I do from time to time, the shelves are full of enticing titles and people are buying, I am amazed, they donít query the price (as they do in my shop) but the books are fashion, what we are interested in today, right now Ė and because of this most are whizzed off by the authors, with full support and knowledge I am sure, in a couple of years or less even.  Very few of these books will make it into the 2nd hand market.  My last Hay Festival three minute assessment, was less than 1%.  The same is true of libraries.  I havenít been in one for years, but my sister goes every week. Apparently they only stock books under 20 years old, so it is the same thing, fashion.  The books have not stood the test of time - the most important test.  Things that hold true throughout the generations.  If you read a fashionable book, written to sell and to please, you will be dissatisfied.  If you read a book, written because the author has something to say, perceives a truth and has a facility with words, - a much rarer item, you will be caught up in their world, you will shift your mind set just a little, and you will be entertained.  Second hand bookshops, now rare (and I donít mean charity bookshops which are awful, the dregs of the new bookshop actually), will set out things you didnít know about, weren't thinking of buying and didnít think you were interested in, but become so.

Course you can buy anything on the internet now, especially second hand books, but knowing what you want without seeing them on the shelf is beyond me and nearly everyone else I think.  I go from one book to another.   Customers recommend authors to me sometimes, and I read them and one leads to another.

Course a minute percentage of people use 2nd hand bookshops, in fact less and less read at all.  Who knows what this will do to people's personalities, well we do know, this generation is on us now. Sometimes I go into a home, the children are clearing their parent's house and the books are of educated people, people who knew two or more languages, understood maths, communicated by letter overseas, played musical instruments Ė reading and education was their life.  These people hardly exist now.

 

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