16.1.13

The Discount Bookshop

The display boxes out the front are covered in a gritty dust, the spines of the books have faded to a lighter shade than their covers. Stickers on the inside of the door advertise new releases that came out two years ago and were commercial failures. The windows are devoid of any display, and through them you can see a few people idly sifting through the new stock display table.

It is a discount bookshop.

The red and white striped awning has faded, and the red stripes have become pink. A large sign – “BOOKS” – has faded, too, revealing where the thicker brush strokes were.

Inside, it feels empty. The shop looks like it is in the throws of a closing down sale, there aren’t enough books to fill the space, and they look like they have been shoved into the shelves with little regard to the shelves’ categories. The Twilight novels have been put next to Dickens in “Literature", while A History of English Spoons has been slid in next to Self-Analysis: A guide to the self diagnosis of Mental Illness in “Self Help”.

There are a few paper-bag readers scattered around inside, too, and a few more outside surveying the pickings in the display boxes, running their fingers contemplatively down the faded spines of cheap paperbacks.

Paper-bag readers are the sort of reader that will read anything, paper-bags included. They churn through books at a frightful pace and many of them accurately remember each and every one of them. They don’t care if the book is well renowned, or an airport paperback; if it is words on a page that tells a coherent story, believable or not, they’ll read it. They’re the sort of people with ten books always on the go, and they’re chronically starting new ones before they’ve finished old ones. But they always get back to the old ones, and even if they’re books of self-published tripe, they will read it. They read like machines, and they are the reason that these Discount Bookshops stay in business.

Discount Bookshops have no pretentions of being snobbish, and they don’t make false claims of having connexions to the world of literature. They sell books: awful cheap books, publishers’ remainders, printers’ seconds, they’re all books aren’t they? If they’re books they can sell them, and our friends the paper-bag readers will buy them and read them when no on else would touch them, normal readers wouldn’t go near them, let alone read them. It’s thanks to this that the Discount Bookshop will survive. Sure, they might get the occasional normal reader in, and they might even buy a book, but it is the paper bag reader that takes up the three books for ten dollars offers, keeping these sorts of shops alive.

I like going into discount bookshops occasionally. Sometimes I end up finding a bargain, other times you don’t. Just this week I bought an  Oxford published paperback on words that originated in the twentieth century. I definitely wouldn’t have paid full price, but $3.95 wasn’t a bad offer, was it now?

Really, they’re a funny little establishment, with a balding, short man for a shop-keeper and books that maybe should have never been published, but they’re good fun if you’re looking for a bargain, if you’re in the right frame of mind. 

Canberra,
Australia,
January 16, 2013

Here we are then

There has to be therapeutic benefits to starting afresh, anew, all over again. But unlike times past, there isn’t the fit of rage that was once required. You no longer have to burn everything in a large pile on the drive way, while dancing around in the nude. I’m sure your neighbours will be pleased to learn that thanks to technological innovations we can no have this “turning over a new leaf” moments in private, and with our clothes on.

But it isn’t quite the same, is it? Pressing select all, and then jabbing an enraged finger into a grubby computer mouse doesn’t have the same emotions attached to it as burning archive boxes in the front yard in the nude once did. But although I would happily conduct one of these burnings – with my clothes on, thank you – there isn’t anything to burn. The only remembrance of the former incarnation of this blog will now be hidden away in the deepest bowels of Google’s Blogger servers. Everything was digital, and the only way to destroy it didn’t involve fire. There was the possibility of subjecting the hard drives in the servers to extreme heat – by fire – but I live far too far away for server arson attacks, anyway. So that was purely out of the question.

What happened after these burnings in the front yard in the nude, though? You would have got a hose, doused the flames, and put your undies back on, wouldn’t you have? Then you would have sat down and begun again on the revised version of your memoirs, trying to keep a level head. Do I get any of that? No, I just get to start writing again. Here I am. Building up once more a blog that I might have to spread the flames of my mind across, and once more douse it with a rebirth of this very ilk. Until then, though, here we are.

Canberra,
Australia
January 16, 2013