Of all the places I thought I would visit once lockdown was over, a bookshop was low down on the list, yet there I was on the day that Watersone’s reopened, standing in a short queue outside the Morpeth store.
Whilst I have been able to get books delivered straight to my door throughout the pandemic (in line with my new buying habits) there is nothing quite like the smell and ambience of a bookshop. I could quite happily linger for hours looking for something exciting to read. I am not alone.
I was getting low on reading material though. I was down to the last few pages of my last book and I usually have a few on the go so when I found out that my local shop was opening again, I donned my mask and made my way to get some new books
It was a strange experience however, starting with the hand sanitizer at the door. Only a certain number of people were allowed in the shop at any time and there were arrows on the floor to tell you which way to walk around the shop. Browsing was allowed but any book you touched but didn’t want to buy had to go into a special quarantine bin, to be recovered a few days later.
This didn’t seem right to me and so I was determined not to touch any book that I wasn’t going to buy. My browsing was therefore curtailed and my selection was swift, leading me to buy books that I may not have bought at other times. Not that that is a bad thing.
I am half way through the first, ‘The Lost Pianos of Siberia’ by Sophy Roberts, part travelogue and part history, things I don’t normally read, but I liked the title and am enjoying it very much.
I’m glad the shop is back open but the visit made me realise that shopping is not just about buying. Gone was the browsing, gone was the atmosphere and gone was most of the enjoyment of the visit to the bookshop.
One day we will get back to normal but we mustn’t forget that human life is so much more than a string of transactions.