Changes at Foyles

The venerable Foyles bookshop on the west side...
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I remember Foyles bookshop in London when, perhaps twenty years ago, it was a warren of books seemingly piled one on top of another and with little order beyond the basic categorisation by subject (that is how it felt anyway).

Buying a book was a rigmarole – you got a chit for the book at one counter, paid at another and then went back to collect the book.

That contributed to the sense that the owners treated their staff abysmally – they seemingly could not trust most of them to run a cash register. I did not like the place and stayed away for many years.

When I did go back, some years ago now, the place was transformed – it really is the best bookshop in London and it is always hard to resist going in there when I pass.

But, I have to be honest. While I maybe buy a book or two there on four or five times a year, more often than not I seem to use its computer section as a sort of glorified library – checking which books look good before ordering them online from Amazon.

Ordering online is not always cheaper in fact – for low volume books Foyles can even turn out cheaper or at least faster at no extra cost as no postage has to be paid. But anything with any sort of volume is usually 50 pence or more cheaper and ordering a few makes the saving worthwhile.

So what to make of the fact they have moved the computer section downstairs to the basement seemingly because more and more computer book buyers do the same and so the computer books cannot be given the more valued retail space upstairs? Should I purchase a book or two just to keep the library open?

Maybe. Because one good thing that has seemingly come from the move to the basement is that there is more shelf space available and, so it seems anyway, more stock to browse.

That is very useful – I was thinking of buying The Little Schemer but having been able to give it a quick browse I can see it does not really fulfil any need for me (I was hoping for a book that would look at the history/thinking behind this dialect of Lisp rather than a cookbook type presentation).

So, what should I plough that saving into?