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Da Bibliofilia (VI)

September 9, 2008

When I was at Shakespeare and Company, a boy of about 19 wanted a book he could not afford. He really wanted the book, and he really could not afford it. So Sylvia, who owns the store, asked him if he would come back later, shift boxes, help with the poetry event they were running – and then he could take the book.

I am sure that this breaks all the rules, but it mends the jagged gap between love and money. We need money, but not everything is about money, and books, even though they are bought and sold, are essentially about love.

No, I don’t mean the memoirs of Paris Hilton or the latest airport thriller, anyone can get those anywhere, at any price, and it doesn’t matter. What matters is that real books belong to the heart, not the pocket, and there has to be a way of letting that be.

I know that the internet is great for ordering whatever it is you need by tomorrow morning, and I am not trying to turn back the clock, I am trying to hold on to what is valuable – even if it doesn’t make much money. [Jeanette Winterson on how British booksellers could learn from the French]

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