A vanishing pleasure?

Happy new year all, and welcome to my 2014… it’s not been a stellar year so far, but there is at least plenty of time for it to improve. And early January is always enlivened by the new shiny objects received at Christmas, including of course several books to add to the reading list. I should really try to make some more headway with said list and spend less time looking at Buzzfeed. My reading habits have been put to shame by my husband, normally quite a slow reader, who has munched through 5 books in the past couple of weeks, exhausting all available volumes of interest. So today we ventured out to Waterstone’s to get something new.
It’s funny how, over the years, Waterstone’s has gradually transformed, without actually itself changing all that much. I remember when it was an ogre of the high street, gobbling up lesser shops like Dillon’s and Ottakar’s and putting poor independent booksellers out of business. Now it’s a beleaguered symbol of old school retail, under threat from the evil empire of the Amazon, a fire kindled under its profits. I don’t actually have that much sentimental attachment to Waterstone’s, not compared with late lamented Borders and its very generous approach to allowing customers to read books in store, or Blackwell’s in Oxford which nurtured me through my academic career. But I was struck today with the sheer joy of book shopping, the pulse-quickening sensation of walking into a whole building dedicated to books, and being able to wander around tables covered in books and shelves full of books, and browse through hundreds of the things, picking them up, feeling the weight, flipping through them, admiring the covers of the special editions, the gloss and the matte, the hard back and the soft, the fiction and the non. And then the excitement of walking out with a fresh purchase, longing to get home to try it out, every book a present waiting to be opened. I love reading physical books, I love having them on my shelves, and I love shopping for them. I don’t know how much longer book shops as a species will last, but I’ll miss them when they’re gone, and I’m going to enjoy them while I can.

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