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What do bookshops offer that can’t be replicated anywhere else? To me, a good bookseller gives so much more than the simple commercial exchange of a book purchase. In a way it’s the same sort of backup you get from being part a reading group (only briefer) especially if you go to the same shop regularly – introduction to new writing/quirky writers that I might have missed, insightful plot knowledge. I get a whole sense of community when I step into either of my two local bookshops. (We did have more but sadly 2 have closed down recently)

I think the phenomenon of the disappearing bookshop should concern us all and I’m very grateful to Anna Griffin for her guest post on her thoughts as she closes her bookshop in Edenbridge. She writes :

“I have a bookshop in the centre of Edenbridge, a small town in Kent. It is in a building built in 1398. It has been a bookshop for more than 30 years. I have been a Bookseller for 14 years and have enjoyed every minute meeting so many interesting people. I love books, it is almost an addiction – the smell, the feel and the comfort of a good book. One can lose oneself in a good book, enjoy other’s experiences and live their lives – visit foreign places and be grabbed by fear and try to solve murders. I have a passion for books and I think bookshops are places where people come to browse and handle books. However, times are achanging and sometimes not always for the better.

The Independent Bookseller is a dying breed. There are only three independent bookshops in the whole of Kent and soon there will be only two. This is a sad reflection of the times. The High Street is a changing world and much of shopping will be done from the armchair at home – this is the shape of things to come.

Online shopping seems to be the future. We are fast losing the skill of communication. It seems as though we want to avoid human contact and just communicate with machines. Computers are a wonder in what information they can impart but I feel we are isolating ourselves and relying on machines to inform us rather than seeking to inform ourselves with all the material in every format that is available to us.

With the advent of electronic books, it makes it so much easier to read on a train, pack for holidays and just download what ever you might like to read. Amazon gives a great service and their prices are cheaper than many booksellers can get from wholesale. (Click here for a blog post on this).

Books given as gifts are often treasured throughout our lives and bring memories of happy times or events. How will we replace this? There is a place for real books and I hope we will realise this before it is too late.”

I’ll second that. “The comfort of a good book” is something so special and only available from a real book – whoever experienced the comfort of an e-Reader! So maybe think twice before you click – getting a real book locally could make all the difference.