Views & Reviews Between the Lines

The end of civilisation

BMJ 2009; 338 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.b2408 (Published 12 June 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;338:b2408
  1. Theodore Dalrymple, writer and retired doctor

    The lot of secondhand booksellers is not a happy one. The trade has nearly gone the way of cooperage or farriery. Customers are growing older and are not being replaced when they die; but many booksellers cannot retire as they would like, because their stock remains unsold. On the contrary it grows as they buy more books than they sell. They know, therefore, that they will die in harness, among the mould, the dust, and the silverfish that inhabit the drier parts of their establishments.

    The other day I bought a book from a bookseller for £4. He was delighted, almost triumphant. “I knew I would sell it one day,” he said, adding: “To the right …

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