Translation, 2021

Since almost all of our major shops have gone online, the humble, rundown but still ‘quirky’ bookshop is struggling to survive without an online presence. I mean the type of bookshops where you place a stack of old, original copies of books down next to till, and the old man behind the counter tilts his head to one side and squints at the stack, before pulling a random price seemingly out of the sky and charging you. Small bookshops are having to fight for their survival by appealing to the people who are going to bring in the money: tourists and students. The students come for the shop assistant who has become well-versed in their university reading lists – it’s just easier. The tourists come because they want to buy something to prove that they have been somewhere, and where could be quainter than a bookshop that can barely afford to turn the lights on every day, never mind the heating. Most of our bookshops do not look like bookshops anymore. They have morphed into these souvenir shops with a stack of textbooks in one back corner, and a dusty old copy of To Kill A Mockingbird in the other.