Bookshops in a Modern World.

Tombland Books
Tombland Books

I’m looking at the words on the page, they are a brooding ugly mass, lacking space and any sense of white space. It matters to me how they look on the page. The words today have taken over the cleanliness of the space. So, do I find space in here, or leave it like the corporate masses I am thinking about, an unkind lump looking only for profit? This is about as long as a piece of writing get for me, so as time goes on it will get stripped more and more. This is the fifth incarnation since it has arrived on my laptop from the notebook, there will be more I am sure.


Hard to imagine the silence amongst the shelves,
the butterfly leafing of pages on my first visit
to a bookshop filled with new printed
paper and dusty books piled in corners.
Now we are in a stripped down, sweating
in the aisles heat of sales pitches that causes
the words to curl and lift from the page.
Books become half price, full of cheap half ideas
lurking among piles of calendars and postcards,
teacups and kindles. Bookshops full of coffee
sounds and coffee smells, where readers huddle
against the press of long dead, cold, unread books.
So many flavoured covers, slot machine literature
trying to grab your passing eyes with electric flashes
of colour and a fancy typeface.

Only the classics have any confidence in their plain brown wrappers.

There are browsers here, chewing pages, flicking
corners over, waiting to be overtaken by a whispering
type, never to be read but ordered on the shelves.
The idea of the story collection is better than the time
taken to read. Nobody comes here to talk of the finer
points of bound print, of the white space between
paragraphs. Reading is consumption, single ideas
stretched to the life of a character. A generation
changed to fast food merchandise stories, held captive
by movie rights and slowly dying as each page turns
towards the end-plate, a plank page that is less than
the space between words. There is no sequel now,
simply a bookseller word pusher, a few thousand,
cut and mixed with pulp fiction where old sci-fi leaks
from the seams of repackaged DVD screen-shots.
Words here are spread to maximum, sugar sweet
and cheaply addictive, two for one buying is used
when the coffee shop is busy, though not with
long stayers, just the meet me in five phone texters.
And I’m here already, not reading, mourning
the visits, where aisles were books and people read standing.


5 thoughts on “Bookshops in a Modern World.

  1. I can literally smell the pages of bookstore as I read this. It saddens me that bookstores are in such a tenuous situation. Perhaps, it will take losing them before we realize their importance. I hope I’m not around to watch them disappear.

    Meanwhile, I shall bide my time at my favorite bookshop.


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