Monday, 18 January 2010

The joy of books and secondhand bookshops.

Whilst there can be no doubt that the Internet has made it easy and cheaper to buy books, with the competition between the big book retailers bringing down the price of books to the advantage of us, the buyers, to my mind there is nothing like going into a proper bookshop. I use the internet for my new book purchases generally, and occasionally that hard to find secondhand one has been purchased online as well, but I have to say that when looking for old books to buy, I do have to feel them, smell them and just see them properly really.
So it has been sad to see so many of our favourite haunts closing down and changing to selling their books via their websites. We would eagerly look forward to an hours' drive and a morning spent in a favourite bookshop, but now there are so few to choose from, half of our favourites have closed down.
However some still remain, and one close to home being only ten minutes away. The shop has been run by the same lady for thirty years now, and is a real treasure trove. We used to visit regularly, but haven't been for years when suddenly, last Saturday on a wild, wet and windy morning, we decided to abandon the chores we had planned around the house, and visit this bookshop instead.
You walk in and are surrounded in the first room by fiction mainly, and lots of childrens books, plus cookery and craft. Into the next room where you find history and topography, gardening and wildlife. Out into the hall and there are some more special and specialised books, plus more gardening and nature and geography. Upstairs you will find classics and music and theatre in one room, together with old newspapers, old prints and musical scores. Another room houses more history and religion, and another has a miscellany of books, a real hotchpotch which haven't been able to find homes elsewhere. These are great shelves for browsing, you never know what you may find here.

There are also modern books, secondhand, like the Kate Atkinson and Diana Athill above. The beautiful leatherbound copy of Rebecca, which is illustrated (see end of blog) cost me less than half the price of a new paperback of the story I bought at Christmas - it is in my mind to read more classics this year you see, at the moment it's an old favourite, PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, a small, illustrated cloth bound copy which is old and well-loved, with a lovely smell and feel when it's in your hand, something modern books don't have. And the top book is another oldie with a beautiful cover, by ELIZABETH JANE HOWARD, published by the REPRINT SOCIETY in 1956.
Then there were two more books to add to my ANNE OF GREEN GABLES collection. I never read these books by LUCY MAUD MONTGOMERY as a child, never even heard of them until I happened to see a Canadian television production of the first book on television, and I was hooked. I have all the stories in paperback, and am now collecting the hardback, but only with dustjackets, though I will buy a clothbound if I see one, to replace with a dustjacketed one likewise. The one on the left is from 1961 bearing the rubber stamping of DERBYSHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL SCHOOL LIBRARIES and the one on the right is much earlier, being inscribed inside 'With love to Cecily, December 1941'. I do have a preference for books which have been inscribed.

Now I know you can buy those lovely little Observer books on just about any subject, but I am so happy when I find one on a subject which interests me, but is something different, like the above. This has some lovely illustrations inside as you can see from the two examples below.

Plus it's a smallish book, and I like those very much. Fortunately the print in this particular instance is easy for me to read, it's not always the case of course, with small books.

Along similar lines is this flower book, again a great handy size and lots of lovely illustrations.

Below is the book on the top of the pile..

and this is one of the illustrations from the REBECCA book ...

So I got quite a nice selection, with change from twenty quid... can't be bad!
Just to say that the next posting will be my 100th, with a giveaway, more of which later.
Thanks for dropping by again.


marigold jam said...

I know what you meean although I am not a browser of second hand bookshops as a rule some of those beauties would be worth a search. The 2 L M Montgomery ones took me back to Sunday School prize days when that sort of thing was tusually the prize - I have several with fancy bookplates inside which state that they were presented to me for good attendance back in the 50s!!


Mid Life Hopes said...

Oh I just love old book shops.
So magical, and mysterious.
Never knowing what you may stumble across, and look at the treasure's you found!!!
There is nothing like the smell of a new book, there is nothing like the feel of a book well loved, and read.


Jenny said...

I must admit that nowadays I don't often use bookshops though I need a good supply of books round me, to read and ones I can't part with. I love second hand and charity shop finds, most of which gets recycled. You've got some great reading there, enjoy.

Mark said...

I love the covers of so many old books - Thirties and Fifties books especially.

The internet has saved many old bookshops too, because the dealers have a wider market- but I do agree that a good old book shop is a pleasure to visit. There is a very good one in Bridport that I love to visit.

Vista Gal said...

It looks like you found a GRAND copy of Rebecca! I love the illustrations!
Your love of browsing used bookstores has rubbed off on me. I went to my local thrift store and picked up some lovelies to read too!

mangocheeks said...

here was a time when I would never walk through the doors of a second hand bookshops - those dusy smelly books with stained pages, now I am just eager to step inside some forgotten out of print treasures. Just takes time, but thats part of the enjoyment - brosing. One of my favourites is Voltaire and Rousseau in Glasgow. It is manic, but wonderful.

Thanks for sharing this, i really enjoyed reading this post.

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Kaylene Norris said...

I love old books shops. You never know what you might find. There could be a hidden treasure hidden in the shelves. Your findings are amazing! I wish there were more bookshops like that out here in California.

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