I buy a lot of books. Our house looks like a second-hand bookshop, and I have to admit that they are on the verge of getting out of control – and I am out of space to put them all. I try to buy what I can second-hand from charity shops, but occasionally I treat myself to a new book or two. Yes, I can order online, but I love actually going to the shop, browsing the shelves and looking at cover art in the company of other book-lovers. I also want to support actual shops that sell books, as so many brick-and-mortar businesses are failing.
I’m quite anal about the way that I treat my books; I have to open them properly, starting from the outside and fanning out sections one at a time. I always use bookmarks – aside from on supermarket trash paperbacks which I treat with terrible disrespect, as they won’t be staying on my shelves for a re-read. They’re clandestine dalliances for dirty weekends, and before I’m finished they’ll be dogeared and filled with crumbs. They aren’t taken home to meet the parents.
Anyway, I take my books seriously.
There are two high-street chain bookshops in the same section of the town centre where I work, and they couldn’t be more different. One is bright and open, with room to stand or sit and read a few pages. It’s a chain store, but all of the staff love books and are happy to discuss their favourites. The other is cramped, with dim flourescent lights on the ceiling. The books aren’t displayed in logical sections, and it’s hard to find anything. Most importantly, they don’t give you bags. Now, I’m used to supermarket clerks here in the UK looking at you as though you’re personally responsible for killing polar bears if you don’t have your crunchy-granola canvas bags to take your groceries home in. But books – !!! Expensive new books, and they expect me to carry them home in my hands in the perpetual English rain. Soulless bastards, every one, and I only shop there when I am forced to.
There’s a third shop, worse still. This is an old-fashioned shop full of dark wood, where you can barely squeeze between the towering wooden shelves, and shorties like me can only reach the first few shelves. It would be quite a cool shop if they sold used books, but it is another retail book store (so in a totally non-logical way I feel vaguely ripped off that I am paying full price). The owner of the store is an older man with a terrible disposition. Okay, that is a wild guess…he might be a wonderful old character and I am missing out by not speaking to him. From his sour expression and the way that he glares at me, though, I would doubt it. Perhaps I look like a shoplifter. I think I look like an average approaching-middle-age woman, but what do I know about the shoplifter demographic? Perhaps I fit a certain profile of ladies who like to spice up their lives by stealing books. Hhmph.
This is why I will never own a Kindle at the expense of having all my well-loved books around me. I love the feel of holding a book, from browsing shiny new books at the bookstore all the way to home and my upstairs room, which has midnight blue walls, a Victorian fireplace and squashy chair, and all the shelves of books like the smallest library in the world. It’s also my computer room, and I love it. It’s one of my favourites places to be.