Welcome to the very first entry of the new blog here at www.thebookshop.ie. Over the next weeks and months, we hope to give you some ideas as to what we do, what we recommend, and our thoughts on books, buying books and selling books.
This is a digital age, undeniably. Its full of chatter, of lists on facebook, news alerts, Twitter, of noise. Getting the time to read - usually a solitary act, often in silence, but just as easily done while in transit, or on a beach somewhere – is increasingly under pressure.. We sell physical books, mostly secondhand or as new, we don’t sell ebooks, downloads or e readers. We're not against e-readers or Kindles, its just not what we do. We sell books, used, secondhand, some new, some as new. Its a simple idea, not a new idea, but we believe we do it well. The irony of this being a post about physical books on a website that does not have a physical shop is not lost on me, however. I too spend too much time looking at a screen. I'm typing this on a screen, you are reading it on a screen. But books are what we're about.
As I was sorting though a large and very mixed collection of books that had been bought last week, I was struck by what I was doing - I was sorting through a collection that had been assembled through a long lifetime of reading. The particular collection came from a country publican in rural Ireland, who had, along with his wife, assembled a collection of books over the last 60 years, at auction, buying at bookshops, books used in school and college, and books seemingly randomly collected. All had been read, some had names and dates attached, some were underlined & forgotten school books. He had purchased sets of encylopedias, sets of yearbooks. His wife reads Mills and Boons, as well as (at the time) racier books like Peyton Place and Valley of the Dolls. There were those great stalwart of 20th century publishing - Penguins of all colours - the orange fiction, the non fiction Pelicans in blue, crime in green. All read, many of those Penguins (indeed most) are still in print. There were Christmas gifts from each year of annuals, of Helen Steiner Rice books, of GAA yearbooks. There were school novels from the 1950's to the 1970's, copies of Macbeth and Animal Farm, many passed on with the notes from the last generation. There was Maeve Binchy; there were copies of cookbooks collected from Stork Margarine labels. Everything.
Often when you are sorting large collections of books, you know when a box will have books of value - they are usually better kept, they may be covered or cleaner than the norm, or they may be signed by the author or have a dedication. This is not always the case, but often books like this are passed on in families. Bibles can be one example, perhaps less so in some parts of Ireland, as the tradition of family bibles was not strong in the Catholic church in the 20th century. Anything to do with the War of Independence seems to be another - these were often kept as their value was recognised by the generation that came after. Copies of say, Guerilla Days in Ireland or biographies of Pearse, Collins or De Valera might be kept as much as a badge of allegiance as anything else.
So, a collection of books, physical objects on a shelf, is more than a database or a library of taste, it is the very stuff of what we've spent our lives doing, reading, talking about and arguing over. If you're lucky, sometimes you can get a book that someone else has loved (or hated, and that you may love or hate yourself) . But as I write this on a screen and I read this on a screen, it struck me that sorting and reselling books from generations past, as well as being an act of recycling, is a way of keeping physical books alive. Taste will change. Kindles will, inevitably, be replaced by another technology, in the way that DVD replaced the VCR, and was in itself supplanted by the download.
However, a book, say, published on wartime economy paper during WW2 is as readable as yesterday’s bestseller. It may well outlast it. No one has yet come up with a better format than a book.
We always try to keep every book of value we get, and while we may on occasion have had too many copies of a particular book - ( I'm looking at you Dan Brown, and at you E. L. James and your 50 Shades of Grey) - we do believe that as well as keeping books in circulation (at great prices folks!) we're doing more than that - that every older or secondhand book will find a reader, or that it deserves a chance to.
This site was founded in 2013 and has grown rapidly since, and now has over 30,000 books, all graded, and priced accordingly, each with their own tale to tell. Every one a used book, and everyone a re-useable book.