Thursday, January 29, 2009

Charing Cross Bookshop Closings

Internet commerce is killing the book shops at Charing Cross Road in London. I was hired on as a book seller there, in my early 20's. (I ended up being transfered to the Oxford Street branch.) My shop is long gone, and it looks like's others are following.

Money-grabbing landlords are destroying one of London's most famous streets, replacing long-established, small independent bookshops with bland, faceless shops.

Charing Cross Road is world famous for its second hand and specialist bookshops - in fact there's even been a film and a book about the street, 84 Charing Cross Road (1986).

It's a shame. It was the kind of street that you can only find in a city like London or New York City. For about three blocks (Londoner's would cringe at that word, since the city is not a grid) there is/was bookshop after bookshop. For every taste. Literally, if you could not find a book there, you couldn't find it anywhere.
Ottawa is the fourth largest city in Canada and when I was living there, we had about three pocket sized bookstores in the whole metropolitan area. I was in awe of the big city when I strolled down Charing Cross.

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