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Judith Rook  (with Alison Dere)

THE GREAT RETURN

Over a period of two-and-a-half years, my local shopping centre is being transformed into something almost unbelievable in variety, novelty and pro-customer competition.   I went to have a look at the latest opening of thirty or forty new shops, and found, to my absolute delight, a NEW BOOK SHOP!

Our small Western Australian city lost its last book shop nearly three years ago.  At the time, no-one seemed to care very much.  People were buying their reading books cheaply on line, and other books could be purchased the same way.  It was the natural process of social change which, while regretted, just had to be accepted.

However, this totally unexpected reappearance of a local book shop is delightful and to be celebrated.  I will no longer live in a city which lacks a single dedicated source of books of all descriptions.

I will not have to go into a supermarket to find piles of the same ‘best-seller’ I have never heard of.  I will be able to see a variety of dictionaries and books on grammar, I will be able to find Science Fiction classics and check out the physical ‘feel’ of the books on the children’s shelves.  I will even be able to check what the biographers of the world are up to without having to decide who I am looking for.

This is such a hopeful improvement.  I bought two books to mark the day.  They cost me a great deal more than two books published through the electronic platforms, but I spent a hugely enjoyable time in the shop, chatted with staff and other customers, found a book I had thought was out of print, and I don’t regret a single cent.

I told the lady who dealt with my purchases I hoped the shop would not close again for lack of custom.  She gave me a little wink and told me most of her customers had said much the same thing.

What do you think?  Is it a genuine turn-round?

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