Thursday, November 15, 2007
QS - Quite Sad
Yesterday, I made one of my periodic trips into Oxford, on what is usually a mixture of business and pleasure. In this case, an emergency trip for a stock item that we screwed up on (this music ordering is still proving a bit tricky), some general soul-enhancing bookselling inspiration around Blackwells and the QI Bookshop, and then on to some light cloak-and-dagger stock-spying in the big chains. It was a gorgeous day, lots of students milling about, throngs of bicycles in the Broadway - obviously if this kind of thing winds you up (bl**dy students, etc.), then you're not missing anything, but I do feel lucky that people travel from all over the world to soak up the Oxford atmosphere, and I can pop in whenever I like (sort of). Anyway, armed with Timothy in his buggy, and thus disguised as a sleep-deprived Dad (oh, actually, that's not a disguise...) I was deep undercover and began my mission. Within the space of about 1/4 mile on the Broadway, you have possibly the biggest concentration of retail bookselling anywhere on Earth. A few years ago there was Thornton's Bookshop as well, which sadly closed - although the shop lives on in cyberspace. The unrivalled staff in the Blackwells Music shop were absolutely brilliant. They helped me carry said buggy to the top of their building - and back down again five minutes later, without a grumble (akthough Timothy did his bit and delivered one of his winning smiles the whole time). I then went round the corner to the QI Building - home to the QI Bookshop. And discovered some sad news. The QI Bookshop is closing on December 22nd. This is Quite Sad. Quirky does not begin to describe the bookshop, with its idiosyncratic section layout and deliberate stocking of obscure and non-bestselling hardback fiction, it is a lovely, unique place to visit. And it was their Christmas catalogue last year (neatly tied with ribbon) that inspired ours. So - is this another "small independent closes in face of severe competition" story? Has the challenge of selling books around the corner from three enormous retailers taken its toll? Er, no. Apparently the company that makes QI was recently taken over, and the bookshop has no place in the new company's future plans. Which is Quite A Shame.