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Let’s Hear it for Bookshops

Read Friday, 7 Aug 2015

Tomorrow is National Bookshop Day, with loads of events – signings, dress-ups, competitions, and giveaways – at participating bookshops. Sophie Quick gives you five reasons to join in the celebrations.

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  1. Bookshops are sanctuaries. Let’s face it: the outside world is a nightmare. People are always shouting and crying and running around and eating kebabs. Most people inside bookshops are quiet and contemplative, allowing you to really peace out.

  2. Lots of bookshops host author readings and signings, which means you can meet your favourite writers in the flesh. While it’s true that you can always watch YouTube interviews with authors, if you go to a launch or reading at a local bookshop, you’ll be able to smell the author and stroke their actual hair.

  3. An attentive human bookseller can give you far more nuanced recommendations than an online store. In a real-life bookshop, you can just lumber right up to the counter and say, ‘Hey, I really enjoyed Miffy Goes to Hospital, what should I read next?’ And the bookseller will say, ‘Well, you’d probably love Watership Down or maybe Rabbit, Run by John Updike. Don’t even bother with Aesop‘s The Tortoise and the Hare. A hare is not a rabbit, and the hare in that story is a f**king loser anyway.’  

  4. Bookshops keep our literary culture healthy. Trusted booksellers can lead readers to try new things through merchandising and gentle advocacy. If all books were sold through massive, online retail giants, publishers wouldn’t be able to take risks. Every book in the world would be The Da Vinci Code.

  5. It’s rare to stumble upon something new in an online store, but real-life bookshops are temples of serendipity. Picture one of those charming, chaotic, fire-risky bookshops. A person could easily trip over a copy of Portnoy’s Complaint and straight into the arms of an alluring fellow bookworm. BOOM: you just discovered a disgusting new book and the love of your life. #loveyourbookshop

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