Monday, April 1, 2019
Secondhand Bookshops in Britain - Still Rising
In 2017, I reported on The Rise of Secondhand Bookshops in Britain, and in 2018 I updated this, noting that the numbers seemed to be remaining broadly stable.
The news pages at the excellent website The Book Guide report regularly on newly opened or newly discovered bookshops, and also on closures, while customer reviewers provides notes on any that seem to be in peril.
In the first quarter of this year, the guide has reported new second hand bookshops opening in York (Pitch 22), Barnard Castle (Curlews – a reopening), Bath (Fact or Fiction), Eastbourne (Vintage etc), Epping (Oxfam), Shipley (The Children’s Society), Hay-on-Wye (The Story of Books), and Halifax (Brame), and newly discovered ones at Strathcarron (Hospice Bookshop) and Kingcussie (Caberfeidh Horizons): whereas only one closure (Marlow, Oxfam) has been noted.
That’s a net increase of nine second hand bookshops.Two thirds of those are privately owned, so the increase is not being driven mainly by charity bookshops.
Recent reviews by browsers do, however, note several existing bookshops that proved not to be opened when advertised or expected, although that has always been a characteristic in some parts of the trade, particularly in those shops gallantly run by sole owners.
It may well be, therefore, that a few shops are for all practical purposes closed, even if not officially so. But even if this is the case, we can still say that the number of secondhand bookshops in Britain remains at least stable, and more likely the total is continuing to rise slightly. Of course, this is only a picture from one full quarter of a year, but so far the sense that many collectors have of a steep decline continues not to show up in the figures.