Orwell in the Bookshop @ Link Wanderlust


You can never go wrong with George Orwell as your choice of writer. I stumbled upon an essay by him called Bookshop Memories. He speaks about his experience of working in a bookstore, an occupation that most writers would be pleased to have. Now if you work in a bookshop, you would expect bookish types to peruse your stock, but no, this is not usually the case. It seems strangely similar to the kind of people one expects at a lit fest these days and who are anything but.

“First edition snobs were much commoner than lovers of literature, but oriental students haggling over cheap textbooks were commoner still, and vague-minded women looking for birthday presents for their nephews were commonest of all.”

Who are the people who visit the bookstore that Orwell alludes to? He calls some of them pests in good humor- the aunt who wants to buy a book for her nephew, the customer who remembers nothing of the book but the color of its cover, the bookseller who strolls in with useless tattered books and of course the ones who do not pay.

He also talks about the merchandise that he used to sell. Besides books, there were typewriters, stamps and even horoscopes. Reminds you of the merchandise in the few physical bookstores that exist nowadays! Working in a bookshop is a job you need not envy.

“But the real reason why I should not like to be in the book trade for life is that while I was in it I lost my love of books. A bookseller has to tell lies about books, and that gives him a distaste for them; still worse is the fact that he is constantly dusting them and hauling them to and fro. There was a time when I really did love books — loved the sight and smell and feel of them, I mean, at least if they were fifty or more years old…… Seen in the mass, five or ten thousand at a time, books were boring and even slightly sickening.”

The Queensland Book Depot

Source: New Old Stock – https://nos.twnsnd.co/image/61504751875

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