Thursday 3 July 2014

Celebrating Independent Booksellers Week with J.B Morrison

As it is Independent Booksellers week this week, I have a brilliant post to share with you from J.B Morrison, author of the FANTASTIC The Extraordinary Life of Frank Derrick, Age 81. Enjoy!

The Little Shop of Horrors

I have a fear of shops and in particular the smaller ones where its harder to hide. If I go in to a shop and am met by a smile and a can I help you sir? I usually return the smile, say no thank you, pretend to browse for ten seconds and then leave with nothing other than an increased fear of shops and one more shop that I dont feel confident enough to go in to.

My fear of shops probably started when I was a musician. Music shops seemed like
particularly terrifying places. The staff ignoring me were always better musicians than I was and I invariably only wanted to buy a single guitar string or a battery, which only annoyed the staff more and made them ignore me for longer. I was afraid of clothes shops too and in the nineteen nineties my kooky clothing style may have looked very clever and Vivienne Westwood but it was really just a by-product of my fear of the young people behind the counter in Topman. I felt more comfortable being served by the old ladies in Marks and Spencer. Hence the trousers. Record shops were a no go area as well. I always thought my music taste might be judged at the tills. When I left I imagined the current album playing stopping and everyone in the shop laughing at me. When I became a bit well known as someone who was making the music on sale it only made it worse. My girlfriend would have to buy my CDs as well as my underpants.

So the introduction of online shopping was good for me. I bought everything online. Guitars and trousers, music, pants, and a lot of books. Independent bookshops were as intimidating for me as Topman and the Charing Cross Road guitar shops were. I was worried that Id choose the wrong book and the shopkeeper would go a bit Bernard Black (Books) on me and throw me and my chosen book violently out of the shop.

But now, typically just as there are fewer independent books shops on the high street Ive started to appreciate what wonderful places they are. And once you get to know Bernard, or better still, he gets to know you, hell be able to recommend books to your relatives to buy you for your birthday, and theyll be books that you actually want to read and books that you dont own already. Bernard is a living, breathing recommendation search engine, unsullied (unintentional Game of Thrones reference) by those books on quilt making and cupcakes that you bought for your mum that colour your Amazon customer profile. My girlfriend will be hoping that my confidence to enter high street bookshops will extend to clothes and music. Ive got enough guitars.

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