Sunday, March 08, 2009
Cobblers and Coverless Books
At Scarthin Books, a rambling independent shop with new and second-hand books in Cromford, Derbyshire, Dave Mitchell has grown used to things running against him. He says business was expanding nicely until about 1999. After that, with great effort, it has been steady. But this year his January sale brought its best results since 2003; “not back to the glory days before Amazon and Tesco started eating into sales, but certainly no 'downturn’ on the last few years”.
Mitchell does not separate his second-hand and new sales, but he sees two divergent trends in the second-hand trade as a whole. “For the traditional antiquarian shops, business is appalling,” he says. “But the big browsing shops are booming.” Other reports seem to bear him out. Barter Books in Alnwick, Northumberland, and Richard Booth’s Books in Hay-on-Wye – heavyweight “big browsing” bookshops – each reported a strong 2008.
Not doing so well: Stacey's Bookstore in San Francisco. Here's its closing night this last Wednesday.