The times they are a changing

Or to be more precise, I suppose, the times have already changed.

I heard a piece on the Today programme about publishing and buying books, focussing on a row that’s brewing with Amazon.

It started me thinking on how things used to be, not that very long ago. Because I work near the city centre, I usually go out for lunch with my friends, and we get some food and have a bit of a wander round the town. We’ve been doing it for years, but I realised with some surprise that it has changed over time, and I hadn’t noticed.

We used to regularly go round all the bookshops (Easons, Dillons, Waterstones, and some of the second-hand ones too), and the music shops (Our Price, Virgin, HMV), probably at least once a fortnight. And now we hardly ever go to a bookshop or music shop. Now why should that be? Partly it’s because none of us tend to buy as many things from those shops (the ones that are still open of course).  I don’t think I’ve bought anything from one of those shops since Christmas, and maybe not since the Christmas before. But we never used to buy books every week, so that’s not the whole story. Part of the pleasure of a bookshop or CD shop is the browsing to see what’s there, but now that we have a whole world of books and music at our fingertips all the time, it doesn’t seem necessary any more. Especially since we now get emails all the time advertising all the new books and CDs, so we don’t even have to go and see what’s new.

That kind of disappoints me. I like bookshops, and music shops, and it kind of shocks me to think I’m not visiting them. So next week’s resolution is to go and make friends with some bookshops again.

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