The Spectator extols independent bookshops, just as ACHUKA prepares to publish our latest Indie Bookshop feature: The Kennington Bookshop – online later this morning
The pleasure of a book can be further heightened by the way in which it is bought. There is nothing luxurious about buying a book on Amazon, with its grim efficiency, bright white webpages and impersonal clicks. Likewise, there’s little pleasurable about paying for a book at the robotic self-service checkouts of the supermarket or WH Smith. These are places of deals and vouchers, built to maximise speed of transaction. By contrast, going into a good bookshop — and to have survived, they have to be good — is a joy. These are places where you are greeted by a real person, where the air is thick with the dusty smell particular to books, the hushed enthusiasm of conversations which meander delightfully unalgorithmically, and the thrill of discovery.
Moreover, a bookshop is where you come not so much to pick up the book you know you want, but to find the book you never knew existed. Unlike the digital world, in which we have seemingly limitless choice, the bounds of a bookshop’s physical space make it a place of curated selection. Booksellers offer the luxury of placing the perfect thing under your unsuspecting nose. Some shops, such as Heywood Hill and Daunt Books in London, and Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights in Bath, even offer a subscription service where, after an initial consultation, you are sent a book a month tailored to your taste.