Why second-hand bookshops are just my type

More on the pleasures of the second-hand book shop:

The Rev Thomas Dibdin tells the story in his book The Bibliomania, or Book-Madness: History, Symptoms and Cure of this Fatal Disease (first edition 1809, 87 pages; second edition 1811, 782 pages) of a bibliomaniac who, on his deathbed, excitedly sent out for books from the catalogue of a bookseller, his obsession keeping him happy until the very moment of his death. Alas, his library of 50,000 books was sold posthumously for a third of what it cost him; but if the really important business of life is to die well, then no better death could be imagined…

Customers of second-hand booksellers, such as I, are also a rum lot. What kind of person spends two-and-a-half hours in a shop and then havers indecisively over whether he really wants a copy of Augustine Birrell’s (unjustly) forgotten essays marked at £3? If he fails to buy it, he will regret it the moment the shop has closed or he can’t get back to it. If, on the other hand, he (and customers are almost always he) buys a book that his wife will find outrageously expensive by comparison, say, with a pair of shoes, or even a single shoe, he will ask the bookseller to rub out the price. All booksellers are so familiar with this pattern that they are ready with their rubbers even as their customers buy.

Dalrymple at the Telegraph

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