Requiem for a Bookshop

There was a time you could go to the bookshop at Brierlow Bar, browse an interesting selection of books, buy a few nice greeting cards, have a cup of tea and a Kit-Kat, listen to the elderly gents discussing steam railways and come away feeling relaxed.

It was, to be honest, a bookshop from a different time and it probably wasn’t very profitable.

Judging by the crowd in the cafe it’s much more profitable now. But ithe profits, unfortunately, don’t seem to have been used for upgrading, or even maintaining, the toilets.

In terms of stock, we couldn’t buy any cards this time, as the ones we liked seem to be out of stock.

The Natural History selection seemed a bit bigger this time and the poetry seems to have grown a little in quantity, though the quality has, I think, declined. They still have a good selection of History and Military History but Julia wasn’t able to find anything in her line this time. I quite like travel and cookery books but I haven’t been able to find any decent ones for a couple of years now – both victims of the increased cafe space/reduced book-shelving.

It is also more difficult to get round, as the gangways were always quite narrow and the increasing customer numbers make access quite difficult at times, particularly as so many of them seem to drift round aimlessly and clutter the place up.

There was only one dog in today, but it was barking quite a lot. It was only a pup (though an Alsatian pup, so quite large) and the owner was bribing it to stay quiet by giving it treats. Or teaching it that if it barked it would get treats. For me this goes to prove that people should have to pass a test before being allowed to have a dog. Judging from the evidence of her kids it wouldn’t be a bad thing to make them pass a test before breeding either.

I did manage to buy a few books so it wasn’t a wasted journey, but I’m afraid it’s going to be the last time we treat it as the main destination for a day out.

Apart from the access issues, the toilets and the stock, I just don’t feel relaxed there now, and the cafe reminds me too much of what happened to our kitchen on the farm, even down to the cliched decor.

I wish them well. They’ve invested time and money in the place and made it much more lively, and presumably a more viable business. However, it’s lost something in the process and it’s not the pleasant, relaxing experience it used to be. I suppose that’s the story of life.

If you want to read a selection of opposite views try this site. Lots of people love it, and they all seem to love it in the same formulaic way. If I was a suspicious man I’d think someone was rigging the reviews. However, having seen some of the customers it’s more likely that they all belong to the Stepford Wives reading group.

There are some very informative negative reviews too, some of which echo my feelings.

I did like a few of the quirkier ones – like the one where they ate, spent an hour browsing and then bought a book.

Or the one where they found it a good place to while away a few hours with the kids.

Presumably they also spent a lot of time cluttering the place up and getting in the way of grumpy old gits like me.

In conclusion I will leave you with a nightmare vision of the future, where you can’t buy books in bookshops or plants in garden centres because they have all expanded their cafes and gift sections until there is no room for actual stock…

And having unburdened my soul of this sorrow I will enter the New Year as a happier man.

Happy New Year to you all.

16 thoughts on “Requiem for a Bookshop

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  4. Helen

    Such a shame you have lost a favourite haunt. I think we might have driven past this cafe/bookshop shortly after another post you wrote about it but didn’t stop. Maybe we should have experienced it before the demise… but apparently nothing lasts forever.

  5. Lavinia Ross

    Good old-fashioned bookstores are becoming a rarity, at least here. We have a couple over in Corvallis, Oregon. The best one I remember was from the 1970s in Willimantic, Connecticut, the Zeising Brothers Book Emporium. That was a treasure house of interesting books! I picked up a book on honeybees there, which I still have.

  6. Sharon

    Sadly bookshops either have to deliver exceptional product and service and or create an unbeatable shopping experinece, hence the cafes, to survive now. Very familiar with the Stepford set, I am afraid it is my unflatering description of a certain type of clone that also clutter up book shops and cafes here.
    Afraid you may be right about the owner of the dog, it does sound like it is being rewarded for barking and yep I think an exam before being allowed to own a pet or re-produce is a bloody good idea, but then I am a grumpy old git too. I put a huge amount of effort into making sure my dog has acceptable behaviour in public and that requires a lot of work from me and I certainly don’t expect anyone to put up with unacceptable behaviour from me or my dog.
    Good bookshops are absolute treasures but more and more they are disappering. I love chatting to the well read, knowlegable staff at my favourite bookshop, I know I may pay more for a book from them but I value that service and really don’t want ot see it disappear. Amazon is no substitute for that, the genuine helpfullness and friendliness, the sense that you are part of a whole book loving community, with room for stepfords and grumpy gits.
    Sorry a bit wordy, Happy new year!

    1. quercuscommunity

      Not wordy at all. I never get tired of reading that people agree with me!

      This year I am going to put more effort into books and bookshops. You are right about community and service.

      Happy New Year to you too.

  7. tootlepedal

    I am glad that you have unburdened some of your grief on us. I feel that I have now done at least one worthwhile thing in 2019. Happy new year Quercus. May your numismatic address have them cheering in the aisles.


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