Bits Of London That Don’t Change

London, Observatory

Not strictly true, this, as some nasty new shops are shoving their way into a once-unbroken parade of bookshops on Charing X Road, so that there’s now a Subway (who eats there? It’s always deserted), a hairdressers, a shoe shop (oh good, we need more shoe shops), and dear God a TK Maxx (Chav togs).

However, there are still pockets where serious book-browsers can lose themselves in the stacks filled with mildew, dust and leather mites. They’ll slowly vanish – the biggest secondhand bookshop, a true cornerstone of the street, is suddenly empty this week and more closures will follow.

But there is a solution; get the booksellers to move the book market somewhere less expensive, and allow the revamping of Charing X Rd to naturally occur. The revamped Paternoster Square could and should have been the spiritual home of books, restoring the shops and stalls that were there before the war, and bringing life back into the area.

Bu surely there’s somewhere else that’s central and reasonable?

3 comments on “Bits Of London That Don’t Change”

  1. Helen Martin says:

    I think we were in this shop – lots of interesting stuff. I love bookstores and can spend any amount of time there. Consider the owner of a shop in our New Westminster who had a flood of water which necessitated the tearing up of all the carpeting, the removal of half the shelves and the draping of the front quarter of the shop with plastic sheeting. Haven’t been by in the last two weeks to see how the repairs are going.

  2. Lisa says:

    I wonder whether Skoob thought they might be leading that charge, with their Holborn/Russell Square location?

    I think, and I’m definitely not the first to say it, the biggest threat to secondhand bookstores in the UK is the rise of charity shops. Not only are many people now conditioned to think a pound or two is plenty to pay for a book, they’re also more likely to donate books, than sell them. So both the demand AND the supply are drying up for the secondhand dealers.

  3. Richard Gray says:

    QUOTING ‘The Water Room’ in Bantam pb., 2005


    Maggie Armitage: “Have you noticed that every London building eventually becomes a shoe-shop? Camden is already the bad footwear capital of the world. Old gods are no match for new money.”

    Is this a conscious reference to Douglas Adams’ “shoe event horizon” from ep.11 of ‘The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ radio series? Adams will not have been the only man to say of Oxford Street, “You can’t throw a brick without breaking a shoe-shop window”.

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