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Posts Tagged ‘Used books stores’

I found a lovely essay, Of Bibliophilia and Biblioclasm, by Theodore Dalrymple (whom I always enjoy reading) in the New English Review. It is a meditation on the pleasures of used books, the joy of discovering unknown treasures in used bookshops and much more.  Of one of his finds, he writes: 

One of my treasured books is a little classic of which I should never even have heard had I not browsed in so many bookshops. It is William Blades’ The Enemies of Books, first published in 1880. The frontispiece is an engraving of John Bagford, described as ‘shoemaker and biblioclast,’ and another of the delightful pictures is of a furtive charwoman feeding pages of a Caxton Bible to feed a fire. The enemies of books are ranged in chapters in a great chain of being: first come inanimate forces such as fire and water, rising to the lower animals such as bookworms and other vermin, and finally rising to the pinnacle of biblioclasm, that is to say the conscious book-destroyers, the bookbinders and book collectors. … Now William Blades was a civilised man who loved books and knew that one never really owned books: one was their trustee.

I have loved used books and bookstores since childhood. In fact, my mother and I used to haunt Haslam’s Bookstore (St. Petersburg, Fla.)  which was enormous, or so I believed as a child. I googled it just now, expecting to learn that it no longer existed. Not only does it still exist, it has thrived (it has grown to 30,000 square feet with over 300,000 (new and used) books, according to its website). As if that weren’t cool enough, there is also a history page upon which I found a picture of the store.

This is the store that nourished my love of books

This is the store that nourished my love of books

Thanks to Google, I have learned that all the second hand bookstores that I have loved over the years are still going strong.

So while Dalrymple mourns the passing of such shops in England, my experience suggests that they are not in any obvious danger here. Or so I hope!

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