Thursday, October 16, 2008

Crossing the line


I think most of us like our bookshops to have a bit of 'character', particularly if they're independent ones. However, yesterday I visited a shop that had crossed the line between eccentric charm and total chaos. There were no discernible sections and it was impossible to look at any of the books without causing an avalanche. Also, the stock was pretty awful.

It felt as if the owner had given up and was now simply going through the motions of opening and closing the shop. Needless to say, there were no customers.

I almost felt like offering my services (free of charge) for a day or two, but I don't think the owner would have taken kindly to having a stranger criticise his shop, followed by a patronising offer of help. It's a pity, because the shop has a lot of potential and enjoys a monopoly in its town.

11 comments:

Planet Me said...

Wherewas this shop? Broadstairs... Eastbourne? Hastings? if so, I know the ones...

Steerforth said...

You're in the right area, but it's not any of these.

I don't know if it would be right to say (but on the other hand, it's a bit late to become all ethical after posting a photo of it).

It's somewhere between Brighton and Eastbourne.

Ms Baroque said...

What I like in a bookshop is for everything to be in the right section, in order. Beyond that, the owner's own clutter, cat, pipe, carpet slippers, tea mugs, ashtrays, etc are all fine with me...

The Poet Laura-eate said...

As a former volunteer in Oxfam's original secondhand bookshop, I share your pain Steerforth.

Lucy Fishwife said...

Hmmmm yes well... apart from the awfulness of the stock that looks exactly like my front room! Luckily we have two and the deeply Virgoan Mr Fishwife has the other (tidy) one. My bookshop, on the other hand, is a thing of beauty and a joy forever. Clean, tidy, well-stocked... The owner of your featured emporium wasn't Bernard black, was it? Tell that feckless sod he still owes me 20 Marlboro Lights and a bottle of petrol station Chardonnay.

Kate Lord Brown said...

The ashtray I can cope with but I can just see Trinny (or is it Tranny) gurning on the left of the photo. No wonder no customers.

Steerforth said...

Well spotted Kate! I'd cropped the picture and didn't think anyone would spot Tranny.

As for the other comments, if you're going to have a bookshop like this then yes, you have to do it with attitude. Unfortunately the proprietor was no Bernard Black.

I couldn't help comparing this shop unfavourably to Camilla's in Eastbourne, which is superficially chaotic with teetering piles, but still manages to organise everything into the relevant sections in alphabetical order. Ms Baroque, you'd love it.

kimbofo said...

My god, was Bernard Black, from "Black Books" the proprietor??

JonathanM said...

Good Lord! I mean, who (cough) could let their sales desk become so untidy.

(If you ever hit Crystal Palace could you give me 48 hours notice please? I would be only fair.)

Goncalo Veiga said...

Yeah, it's pretty messy. I wonder if they are just following some Feng Shui tip from a book.

Steerforth said...

Does anyone remember the story about 'Feng Shui Magazine'?

Someone sneaked into their head office and discovered that they operated from a small, windowless room that was full of cheap furniture and piles of rubbish.