Tuesday, 9 October 2012


 Shakespeare and Company Bookshop
E-books are fantastic. You can carry hundreds of them in your bag at once, have a new one in your hands in seconds and try a new author at the fraction of the price of its paperback counterpart. But there is something strangely satisfying about the tactile nature of turning a page, of finishing a book and putting it on the shelf. You don't get quite the same experience with an e-reader.

I used to volunteer at Oxfam Bookshop in Swansea. We'd get thousands of books donated to us each week; the backroom was always drowning in piles of them. Many were instantly bagged to be recycled. But there were some with inscriptions from friends and lovers scribbled inside, some hundreds of years old, some rare and occasionally, some worth hundreds of pounds. One donation we had was a large selection of books owned by Enid Bagnold. Many were rare editions of books written by members of The Bloomsbury Group. We had an afternoon tea to celebrate the donation and sales of the books raised thousands of pounds for Oxfam

There is also the sentimental nature of holding onto books. Guardian journalist Imogen Russell Williams cannot get rid of the books she read to her children: "My daughter's size is now inversely proportional to both the tidal wave of jolly-coloured, beeping crap she generates, and to the beetling pyramid of classic children's books I am pretending to keep for her benefit."

Modern society wants everything faster. Adverts can be skipped through on the television, information can be instantly accessed through the internet, e-books can be downloaded to e-readers in seconds. But for me, there is something vital missing. In a world where everything seems to be speeding up, there is something quite satisfying about walking into a bookshop and choosing a book from the shelf.

Rose Widlake

No comments:

Post a Comment