I love books. I’ve loved them since I was a little kid, and I used to be a voracious reader. I would hit the library several times a week and by the time I was twelve I was lugging around a copy of Tolkien everywhere with me. As much as I liked lending books though I really liked to own them for myself. Over the years I’ve built up rather a large collection. Some books were purchased from bookshops and some from mail order companies, and some I even picked up from libraries when they soldl off their stock. My all time favourite places to pick up books though were second hand book stores, and by association market/car boot stalls.
I remember hitting a church fayre on the Isle of Arran when I was ten and walking out the happy owner of some battered Doc Savage novels (I still have them on my shelf now). I remember checking out stalls in Borth and Twywyn and shops in Aberystwyth and Llanedloes. I picked up some Discworld novels for cheap in Telford one day on a shopping trip, and I’ve snagged more books from charity shops than I can remember. And that was how I’ve always been; keeping an eye out for the second hand books, the bargains, giving something someone else has read a new home. My secret hope as a writer is to actually see something I’ve written on the shelf in a charity shop some day – weird I know, but true.
The point of my slight ramble is this; there’s a huge car boot sale near me every Bank Holiday Monday (like today) and over the years I’ve enjoyed having a good mooch to see if there was a bargain to pick up. Last Bank Holiday though I had something of a surprise. There were NO second hand book stalls. Oh sure, there were stalls that had second hand books, but none devoted entirely to books. All you’d see were the occasional half dozen titles that everybody’s owned and wants to get rid of. In fact the only book stall was one selling dodgy ebooks!
It was something of a surprise to me that gradually made me sad the more I thought about it. Did it have some sort of greater significance? Does this mean that print as we know it is slowly dying out? Or maybe it’s just that nobody could be bothered lugging all those heavy boxes of books around only to get them wet (an innevitable fact of British Bank Holiday’s is that the weather tends to be bloody awful!). I really don’t have an answer, but I do know that I somehow felt at a loss, unfulfiled at not being able to sift through countless volumes to find a well-thumbed bargain to take home. I’m going to try again today, and I’m crossing my fingers in the hope that this time, perhaps there’s going to be a bargain book bazaar.