Happy autumn, everyone. For many of us, the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness has always also been a season of bookshops. And although I no longer have to trawl Blackwells for school set texts or explore some cut-price campus shack for a sixth-hand copy of the Riverside Chaucer, this remains the time of year when I like to turn from my bulk-bought beach trash and seek out something a little different, something that requires browsing the shelves of a cosy literary treasure trove that smells of wood polish and leather, pagedust and other people’s hands.
Ah, bookshops. The very word summons fantasies of cats curled on broken-springed armchairs, and wild-haired proprieters who know both my name and the collected works of Montague Summers by heart. One scroll through the Guardian’s best bookshops section will tell you that we bibliophiles love the independent and the unique; we crave community-led havens that defy the blandness of big, tie-in touting chains.
But they’re both struggling, the little guys and the corporate behemoths.