The window is still alright, but inside I doubt if there are a quarter of the books there used to be, and you can't really browse because they are almost all turned face forwards. A quick glance around and you've seen the lot. It's exactly like a remainder bookstore. According to the proprietors, "People don't buy books that are shelved spine-out, only if they can see the covers, face-on." Not any book-buying people I know.On Saturday I dragged my ass out of the house for the first time in 4 days. I felt like hell, but I needed some air. We went to Buythebook in West Bridgford [NB their site appears to have been hi-jacked or vamooshed but either way it has now vanished]. We bought two books. I didn't feel inspired to buy any more. Usually I have to tear myself from buying more than two: two is like a minimum purchase for me. In an earlier lifetime (and if the car hadn't been parked at the tram and ride half the city away) I may also have forked the marvellously bargainous £10 for two hefty volumes on Women Artists at £5 each. But then I thought (a) they're not that great - good but no more essential than others on my shelves already (b) they're in my uni library and several others I have been to (c) they are gonna be darn heavy to even transport back to the car let alone lug around in the rain. So I left them.
When I got home I read the Susan Hill piece and TOTALLY recognised what it said. BTB felt like a remainder store - and not an especially thrilling one. Lots and lots of the shelf space was given to face-out books. It felt very open, as if it needed all the space to squeeze everything in but had probably less stock than the nearby Oxfam books store which has around 1/4 of the space. Too much was mainstream stuff (two display cases on cookery, mostly face out); and the dreaded combined section for religion, newage, occult blah-di-blah. It had the potential to be inspiring - quirky bits like a complete history of the English civil war in 7 paperback volumes, and the children's section looked like it had some appeal - but overall I left feeling a bit flat. That is NOT how a bookshop should, or usually does, make me feel. I want to feel like I could keep spending forever, spoilt to choose. Damn it; if even remainder stores can sometimes make me feel that way, surely a decent indie store should be able to do that!? And before someone says something: the jazz. It sounded great. I may go back just to listen to that.