There was a really good article in Saturday's Guardian Review section. It was about books and was written by Julian Barnes, the writer. I could identify with so much of it.
He spoke of coming from a household where both his parents valued books and how he began to collect them himself until it became almost an obsession.
I came from a similar household but on a much smaller scale. My parents never had a lot of spare money. Any that he had my father would spend on another poetry book. Every Christmas and birthday we would buy him a poetry book. I still have many of them on my shelves. In the evenings, when he had done his stint in the garden, or been for a game of crown green bowls with his friends, or met for his weekly stint on the billiard table in the local pub (a permanent booking), he would take down a poetry book and read it. And if anyone was willing to sit and listen, he would read it out aloud to them.
If any place in the world was mentioned, he would take out the World Atlas and find the place and point it out to me. I still do that today.
Julian Barnes's book collecting became almost an obsession. I wouldn't say that mine has reached that kind of proportion, but I do find it hard to resist a book. And that brings me to the real point of this blog.
I would hate to see the demise of our local, independent bookshops. There is also a huge second hand bookshop in Sedbergh, where I often go. But, just for a moment, consider two scenarios:
Last Wednesday I read an article by Matthew Parris in which he mentioned a book that I know a friend with a birthday coming up would love. There were two ways in which I could buy it.
1. Drive the seven miles to Richmond, where there is our nearest bookshop. Look for a parking place, put my £2 into the machine, walk the half mile or so to the bookshop. The chances are that they would not have it in stock and would have to order it. I would then return a week or so later, find a parking place, etc.etc.
2 Click on Amazon (their logo is on my tool bar), type the book into search, I already have an account so I would them just have to click 'add to basket', 'place order' and that is that.
I did 2 of course. I ordered it at lunch time on Thursday. It came at 10am in Friday's post. And it was £2 cheaper than the recommended price.
Which would you have done?