Lost in Fiction - RIP?

Our local independent bookshop, Lost in Fiction, closed its doors recently. I greeted the news with very mixed emotions. Independent bookshops are becoming increasingly rare and it hurts every time one of them closes. The closing-down of LiF also reflects that rents and commercial property prices in the Glasgow West End are spinning out of control. An entire block on Byres Road, our main shopping street, now consists of closed shop fronts. People are taking bets on which shop is next to go.

On the other hand, Lost in Fiction was a really crap bookshop. I say this both as someone with extensive experience within the book business and as someone who should've been LiF's target audience. LiF was essentially a bookshop for people who don't like books very much. Its stock was curiously bland and resembled a slightly dated airport bookshop: pastel-coloured chick-lit and cheap thrills dominated with a few super-hyped literary novels from yesteryear scattered on the shelves. If LiF had an editorial profile beyond "bland mainstream", it was well-hidden. I think this lack of personality, this lack of editorial edge, was its downfall. Tellingly I visited the shop a few times and never bought anything.

As the West End already has several excellent secondhand booksellers, the idea of an independent bookshop is not a stupid one. I think you'd need a strong editorial profile and possibly even a specialised interest (such asΒ  hard SF or GLBT literature), but above all other things the owner of the bookshop would need to know books and the book business.

I'm already looking forward to the day when that bookshop opens.

In other news, my current knitting project, Pine, is going well. This'll be my first bottom-up cardigan and while I'm not enjoying the tedious work on the body, the brioche stitches are making the knitting go quite fast. I'm horribly busy at the moment and my parents are visiting soon, so I do not anticipate seeing it finished just yet - but it is a semi-quick knit regardless. I have acquired (even more) vintage buttons which will look rather nice.