Tuesday, 23 October 2007
Are Bookshops Dead?
Of course not, but some are more healthy than others. What do you notice about this picture (apart from the lousy lighting)? I took this at the weekend in a back street of the provincial south west town of Perpignan in France and it shows (what is normal in most European countries) a unique display of about 30 new books chosen by the owner. In Britain bookshop windows are both boring and dishonest. Dishonest because the books are not chosen by the bookseller but rather space is bought and sold with bribes paid by publishers to get exposure in the window. The same old predictable clutch of best-selling titles, marketed like baked beans in "3 for 2" clumps, duly appears in every chain bookshop window from one end of the country to the other. In this case there are some best-sellers, of course, like Daniel Pennac, and there is Marie Darrieussecq (one of the few contemporary French literary novelists to be translated into English) with her controversial new novel Tom est mort that has provoked one of those bogus 'plagiarism' rows. (I may blog about it later when I've read it.) But it feels like someone's thoughtful choice and it was interesting to browse. Of course the ease with which we can order books through Amazon at drastically reduced prices is changing everything. Most of the hardback Man Booker titles are available at paperback prices at Amazon and you won't need your brolly to go out and get them so quite how any bookshop, even an independent, is going to survive beats me.