Friday, July 25, 2008

Going, going...

It seems that green spaces and black rhinos are not the only endangered things. Second-hand bookstores are quietly disappearing across the UK. I read of this somewhere, and had to restrain myself from weeping openly. For, if you're into books at all, there is no greater joy than stepping into the cool confines of a second-hand bookstore, delighting in the musty whiff of a thousand dog-eared old volumes, and proceeding to crane your neck for the next hour in search of a hidden gem or two. When the admirable Keegan's bookshop in Reading closed down a year ago, I felt genuine anguish given that three fourths of my books hail from there. I remember well the hardbound copy of 'Portnoy's Complaint' for 50 pence, and the terrific Rabbit trilogy by John Updike appealingly offered at a throw-down £1.50. Even in London, the former second-hand book haven at Charing Cross, the part near Leicester Square tube, seems to be shrinking. There are only three or four shops left, thankfully including my favourite, 'Any amount of books' (seen above). If, as foreshadowed by the arrival of twenty-twenty cricket, test cricket dwindles into endangered territory too, I have marked out a shop in Lambeth where I can buy a handgun (which, it seems, are definitely not endangered) to take care of the needful. That said, my recent discovery of the sensationally good 'Blossom book store' in Bangalore has somewhat restored my faith.

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