Books, Books, Books!

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Through no fault of my own, we have recently become friends with the owner of Winchbooks - the secondhand bookshop in the village. Much as I love a good secondhand bookshop, this one really is the epitome of them. The current owner recently took over and, due to a sudden and unexpected reduction in his shop space, has subsequently found himself having to squeeze the contents of what was once a shop filled to an elegant sufficiency into about half the floor area. This means that it has turned into a veritable treasure trove for the likes of myself, and many hours have passed (and no doubt, will continue to be passed) with me tucked in a dusty corner, cross legged on the floor, pawing through lovely little gems. Some of what I have bought so far has minor commercial value - your eye may be drawn to the Orwell (1950 edition!), or the Poe - but mostly they are simply curiosities - "Diversions of a Book-Worm" and "Chapman's Rhythmical Grammar" especially. Many of the more interesting (and worthwhile) have come from the collection of A. D. Hope - a local Canberra poet - whose library was (apparently) donated to the shop upon his death.

The things I like about old books are not just the curiosities of ages gone by, but finding little bits of inadvertent history. Books are generally written with a public audience in mind, so what makes it fascinating is coming across little inscriptions, handwritten notes, and other strange finds, like the piece of satin ribbon glued in to the title page of one book, seemingly for use as a place-marker. I have been criticised in the past for writing my name, the date and (often) the place of purchase in any new books I buy. The reason I do this, is for the people like me in the future - perhaps one day someone will find a book I have bought in a little secondhand bookshop (maybe even Winchbooks?), and wonder who I was, and what my life would have been like, back in 2008 ...

Is that vanity? Or just my version of a time capsule (remember those from school)? Of course, by the time I'm dead and gone, I'm sure people will just be able to Google me and find out who I was, without relying on dusty old, rotting books. But it does make me wonder what the future of books will be like. This little story might be (horribly) closer than we think.

I don't know a terrible amount of the value of books but I'm learning, and since it looks as though we will be spending a lot more time hanging out at Winchbooks, I have no doubt that I will continue to turn up hitherto lost treasures. Weee!


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