Friday, 24 February 2017

Bookshops are closing - (A short story)

In town just now, I noticed another bookshop has closed.

It was one the English bookshops.

As it happens it's the shop where I found a copy of Submission after the Charlie Hebdo massacre.

Submission is a prophetic work, as was 1984,  and it's essential reading in today's Europe.

This raises the question: Who reads serious books today?

The sight of a young person reading a novel, even a Dan Brown thriller, on a bus or a tram journey is a rarity.

If a youngster reads anything, and I use the word reads in its loosest context, it will be the garish free sheet from the newspaper bin at the bus station.

From the age of 10 onwards children will hypnotically thumb through the apps and the pictures and the emails on their mobile phones.

If they put the phone away you can almost guarantee it'll be out again in two minutes and the process will continue, perhaps hoping for another 25 facebook friends.

There 's a word for this.


It means frightened of missing out.

A recent survey claims that 50% of secondary school students in the city cannot or will not speak the official language - German - outside of the classroom.

For them it's Turkish, Albanian, Arabic, French, Rumanian, Serbian . . .  and English.

One day all the book shops will be gone.

And one day in the future it's possible that one of today's youngsters will search his computer for Submission or 1984 to download or to read on line or to order a paper copy and get the onscreen reply:

Search negative. Please try another title.

It could happen.


As easy as switching off their plastic money in their cashless society.

Control will be complete.


  1. I have recently re-read Animal Farm, this time in English, and I am now re-reading 1984 in Italian. I love and respect books; I don't like earmarking the pages. I have a favourite bookmark that my mum embroidered for me when I was a child to encourage me to read.
    Greetings Maria x

    1. __ I too, Maria, have recently re-read both Animal Farm and 1984. What ever happened to Snowball_? Your bookmark, a 'two life' gift!

  2. I think that's a great thing your mother did for you. Last I heard the juvenile illiteracy rate here was about 25%. The computer will change the way the human brain works. Sometimes if I pick up a pen or a book I feel like a time traveler from the past. Ciao, Gwilym :)

    1. Thank you Magyar and Gwil, yes the bookmark is precious to me. X


  3. __ I like this: >Control will be complete.<

    __ I love old books... a short time ago at an antique shop I bought "The Century Handbook of Writing," its print date, 1932, A gramatic handbook, great.

    1. Magyar, I also love these old books. I just bought the 700 page volume of "literature, art and humour" titled Berliner Cocktail (1957) "written for men, read by women" which has a bookmark in it. It's a news clipping dated 10.2.99 about the death of Louise Piech-Porche(94) who founded the Porsche company in Austria in 1947 with her brother. Also there's a pencilled dedictaion to 'Papsi' from an Erich Krüger (1965). The problem I find with old books _ they cause me to sneeze.. . ahh–tshoo!

    2. Ah, the daughter of Ferdinand; the Spider, and the 911. __That little book I spoke about earlier, cost me $2.00 US_! Too, recently, The Lady of The Lake from 1925... but I'll not admit that cost. Smiles!

  4. I see more people reading paperbacks on the train again. It is almost as if the Kindle has gone full circle and people are returning to books.

    I think education will eventually change completely and become obsolete as we know it.

    I love books and maps.

    1. ... and Rachel, no one needs to re-charge a printed, paper-page book, smiles_! Bookmarks vs plug-ins., we hope the bookmarks will win. _m

    2. Education is on the agenda here. Another brick in the wall. Should children have to speak the 'official' language (German) in the playground. Political moves are afoot. The return of the Welsh (k)not (the official language English had to be spoken in schools on pain corporal punishment) but not as we know it ? We don't need no edukashun . . .

  5. Having just read the handmaidens tale who knows what the future holds.