Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Another book shop bites the dust

Well, a branch of Blackwell's, rather than the company itself. Last week I went into Broomhill in Sheffield as I do every six weeks or so to have my hair cut and signs were up in the windows of Blackwell's announcing that everything was half-price because the shop was about to close. I don't know why: just not making enough profit, I guess, or maybe the rent had gone up. We used to live in Broomhill and I have bought many a book there over the years (there used to be a particularly good section on travel and a lot of the guidebooks on my shelves came from there). And I had my one and only proper book launch there in 2006 when FOOTFALL came out. So I am sorry to see it go. I am sorry to see any bookshop go. Now if you want to buy a book in Broomhill you will have to go to one of the many charity shops. Oxfam has a particularly large selection and stocks almost as much crime fiction as Blackwell's did. But you won't be able to order books there, or have the staff recommend books or choose books that they've enjoyed themselves to put on display. Of course you can get pretty much everything on-line, but you won't get the little extras that make book shops special places. And yes, I do buy books on Amazon, but I make a point of buying from book shops as well. Otherwise they won't be there when I want them. Further to last week's blog: my friend Jonathan pointed out that Hilary Mantel's WOLF HALL is written in the present tense - and also the follow-up, BRING UP THE BODIES. I can see why that works. If you want to bring the past vividly to life, to write in present tense help the reader to understand that it hasn't always been history. For the people living then it was life right now, immediate and unpredictable, and anything could have happened. Perhaps that was why I instinctively chose the present tense when I wrote a historical short story.

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