Sunday, March 22, 2009

Farewell to the Book Stop

I always find it depressing when a good secondhand bookshop closes its doors for the last time, and when the place in question is The Book Stop on the Quay in Waterford, it's an outright shame. (I'm assuming it's closed down; the stock has all been cleared out, and there's no sign that it's moving or being renovated.) This was a very small but excellent shop, with a startling amount of good quality stock crammed into every available space; indeed, piles of books leaned against the counter where the very genial owner used to sit, awaiting their turn to go on to the shelves when space came free. As I work in Waterford every now and again, I'd call in quite regularly and make a beeline for the tiny back room, where the literary hardbacks lived alongside old LPs, football annuals, posters, and (for some reason) old piano rolls. There was always something interesting hidden away on those particular shelves, and the last thing I purchased there before it closed down was a lovely old hardback copy of Boswell's London Journals, which I'm currently reading (the poor lad is laid up with the clap at present). The only advantage is that I'll save a fortune by not squandering my pay on books I'll probably never read (such as a beautiful Victorian Arabian Nights I got there before Christmas), but it's hardly a compensation for losing the pleasure of being able to browse in such a fine shop. Waterford has suddenly become a much less interesting place with its demise.
Last week, on a walk down a country road with the faithful hound (who's broken another lead by biting through it, the brute!), I came across a tumbledown old cottage and took a few pictures. Most were pretty boring and not worth sharing, but the above one, taken as I was climbing across the rubble in the door, turned out to be quite strange and interesting. And as it's in keeping with the tenor of this whole post, I feel I should include it here.
(My apologies to Sean, whose comment accidentally got deleted while I was figuring out how to post the above image so that it could be enlarged.)

5 comments:

Sean Jeating said...

ha ha ha ha . . . so here it is again: the free ticket for a guided tour of Seanhenge.

Thanks for this post, D.E. and congratulation on that (!) photo.
Stunning!

VLR said...

Great blog Humptydumpty! And great music here and there!

In The Hague even the good first hand bookshops are closing their doors. Who will save us?

Bertus

A Doubtful Egg said...

I don't know, Bertus. There's only so many books I can afford, let alone actually read...

Claudia said...

Here (in Toronto) we lost them all...The Bookshops, little in size, big in rare editions, each specializing in its own kind, crammed to the ceiling.....Places where I was allowed to sit, all afternoon, on my portable, armless canvas bench, next to the friendly owner-cashier... And go through the three dozens books I had collected in the crowded aisles, to finally buy only one because of my limited budget... And still be treated like a valuable customer as I could discuss, with anyone who walked in, just about every book in the shop, and where it was...And sometimes, when I would offer to dust a few books, I would become delirious upon discovering what I had been searching for years...

Long agonising sentence! It's a 'Dies Irae'...A Requiem!

Now we have modern buildings, with 4-5 floors, where books are neatly arranged with (what I call)indecent order. You don't browse in those places. You walk in and out in 3 minutes. It's so boring that you know why your old friends refuse to be on the shelves.

Sorry, D.E. You just provoke in me a wave of nostalgia. With the post, and your atmospheric, magical photo. How do you do it?....

A Doubtful Egg said...

If you're ever on this side of the pond, I recommend a town on the English/Welsh border called Hay-On-Wye. Not only is the whole town full of bookshops (about twenty, I think) but it has a festival of books every year (some time in the summer, I think). I was there a few years back, and it was bliss!
They also have a marvellous open-air "bookshop"; a grassy yard off the main street, full of shelves piled high with (primarily worthless) books. You can take any book you want away with you, as long as you put 50p in a slot in the wall, and it's open 24 hours! (Admittedly, the chance of finding anything worth reading is slim...)