Why Not Seek Out Secondhand Books When on Holiday?

Not everybody makes excursions to secondhand bookshops whenever visiting places. Perhaps it doesn’t easily cross people’s minds. This is a pity because plenty of places have them, and not just major towns or cities, but also smaller places where secondhand books wouldn’t normally come to mind. Smaller bookshops in smaller places can struggle. And sometimes they need to be sought out. But what a characterful addition it is to a visit, break or holiday when popping in for a browse. It’s worth doing a quick bit or research every time you plan your day out or holiday. There could be some surprising and rare finds just around the corner from where you’re heading.

A while ago I re-found the Keswick Bookshop in Keswick, Cumbria. I’d been out for the day on a walk and returned to Keswick for my bus when I happened upon the place again after missing it for a few years. The owner told me that they’re open seasonally, so I may have previously been in on days when they were closed. So she handed me a leaflet for the Dales & Lakes Bookshop Trail. This has all the area’s privately run bookshops on it, including those helpful opening times for Keswick Bookshop. The advice in the shop’s section in the leaflet to telephone first before making a detour could be applied to any bookshop visit when you’re not sure the place is open. I notice to my disappointment, for example, that the Fireside Bookshop is no longer in Windermere. Boo! At least the leaflet saves a wasted detour.

A secondhand bookshop can also make a change from those gift shops that sell nothing you’d normally buy. On my day out I bought a book as a gift for someone. Giving one as a gift is something very personal. It can be a bit of a gamble – the recipient might already have it, or may not be as interested as you thought. But getting it right requires a time and thoughtfulness that the receiver will appreciate even if you’re a tad off the mark. And it’s enjoyable as gift-buying goes.

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16 Responses to Why Not Seek Out Secondhand Books When on Holiday?

  1. Ste J says:

    I am always amazed people can walk past a bookshop and not go in, no matter where it is. The art of book buying is very underrated, the amount of time spent in pursuit of that book that will give the most satisfaction is something special.

    Like

    • Jeff says:

      If I had my own bookshop I’d get large posters of whoever’s the character of the moment and has a book connection and put them in the window without any books. Bookshops need to be bolder. I have, by the way, an interview next week with a charity shop (which does sell some books) as assistant manager. Quite excited. Possibility of polling volunteers for ideas and then trying them out. I love the whole thing of chasing people about what’s being done, needs to be done, when, and who’s in etc. But to have some say and be able to get volunteers to make changes would be great.
      I can just feel that need to push the books in the place already!

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      • Ste J says:

        Good luck with the job interview, here are some handy tips you can use to nail it http://www.thepoke.co.uk/2015/02/03/20-essential-job-interview-tips/

        I think everything has to stand out more these days, especially with the lack of shops and online selling becoming second nature to people. getting the volunteers involved would get a feeling of enthusiasm going and that would be noticeable by customers, hence why a lot of places are peopled by miserable workers such as myself.

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        • Jeff says:

          Great tips, ta.
          Volunteers are a great bunch to work with. Not all are interested in books though. Giving prominence to books that warrant it takes a bit of pushing.

          Like

  2. Lucy says:

    There needs to be some sort of waiver with airlines for book weight. My problem is even within the UK, if I am nipping down south for couple of days, it’s often cheaper to fly, as Norway is closer to me than most of England is. But if I could just puts the books on the scale separately…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff says:

      5kg for toiletries and a change of clothes, 15kg for books on the return. Simples.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Lucy says:

        And babies are free if they sit on your lap. I think they are prejudice if they don’t let me have the equivalent weight in books of a two year old on my knee, and unlike when my child was little on a plane, books wouldn’t puke on me.

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        • Jeff says:

          You could sew some large inside pockets into your clothing. Combat trousers and cargos have two large thigh pockets. Failing this, I would wrap the books in condoms and swallow them. They don’t show up too good on the X–Ray machines.

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          • Lucy says:

            I properly laughed at that. ‘Oh no! Moby Dick has burst inside Jeff’s belly! Quick, pump his stomach before he dies from all the boring whale facts!’

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          • Jeff says:

            Yes, if the condoms rupture there’s the danger of intoxication. The safest bets are books on milk. Anything on cyanide, arsenic should clearly be sent on with the appropriate packaging – books on radioactive isotopes need to be transported in lead caskets by train.
            I once got challenged when boarding with a book under my arm. The way to avoid this being counted as luggage is to say that it’s in-flight reading. I got away with it being a coffee-table volume because it was a National Geographic atlas of the sky from the ground. I told the steward that I just wanted another viewpoint.

            Liked by 1 person

  3. Letizia says:

    One should make it a habit to enter every bookshop one passes, but secondhand bookshops hold particular charms (the smell alone). Encouraging people to visit them on holiday is a wonderful idea, especially to buy gifts.

    Like

  4. Sarah says:

    That bookshop trail leaflet has made me hyperventilate. I must go there. My family always groan when we approach a secondhand bookshop as it is not possible for me to walk past without going in. Once we went on a big family weekend to somewhere near Hay and I had such anxiety that we might not visit the town and spend several hours trawling, we had to go a day early. It was bliss. I don’t recall the scenery, but the book action was something else.

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    • Jeff says:

      ‘book action’ – love it!
      I had a customer in today during a quiet spell and after the odd bit of conversation, and returning to my book to give her space, I said to her as she paid that it’s really satisfying when you have the time and a long browse. She so got that. I love moments like that. If only they could be framed and put on a wall.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sarah says:

        I think it’s addictive. That silent process of scanning shelves for potential gold, the buzz you get when you find something you’ve been after for ages, the surprise when you see what a stack you’ve found and scrabbling around for hopefully enough cash, and the elation as you head out into the sunshine with your winnings. Who needs gambling?

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