Sunday, December 7, 2008

My bookshop bites the dust

Another business in town* is closing its doors as a result of the economic downturn — my secondhand bookshop.

During the past two weeks, I have made several sweeps of the shelves (and stacks of books on the floor!) and weeded out (a) all those of little or no interest to me, and (b) all those I don't need because I have another, better copy. All these superfluous books have then been stacked by the entrance, loaded into the car and dumped at the Red Cross.

When the process is finished, I will convert my bookshop, which is in my former garage, into a private study.

As I said, my decision to close down is a result of the recession, which has made selling old books even more difficult than it was when times were good. But I was also influenced by the decline in literacy — by the fact that, by and large, people don't read books any more.

Yesterday afternoon, I gave a couple of books to our neighbors, who have three young children. One was Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol and the other was John Buchan's Prester John — one of the great adventure stories about Africa.

Somewhat to my surprise, the husband, who is from South Africa, had not heard of Prester John. "It's a bit like King Solomon's Mines," I said, referring to that other great African adventure story by Rider Haggard.

Alas, my neighbor hadn't heard of that, either.


* Palmerston North, New Zealand.

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