In May I opened a small independent bookshop in the centre of Dublin city. “Why?” I hear you ask. “Haven’t you heard, high-street book selling is dead? E-Books and iPads, Amazon, Tesco, Piracy etc. etc. etc.” For any of us who’ve spent time working in the book trade, these sentiments are an all to present splinter in our collective consciousness. I’ve been a full time book seller for ten years and, like us all, have had my share of those future-of-the-bookshop conversations.
Still, I like many others have a very strong belief in the value and beauty of the physical book. So, open The Loft Bookshop I did and for better or worse (hopefully better), run that little bookshop I shall. It’s been a terrifying couple of months. Plenty of worry and self doubt, a good deal of stress and sleeplessness. Would a bookshop, above a café (in a space that’s also a venue for gigs three or four nights a week) be a workable prospect? So far, so good.
Ever since opening day, one thing has pleasantly surprised me, and that is the incredible amount of genuine good will and supportive comments I’ve received from so many people. Good wishes and words of understanding from friends and former colleagues at my old alma mater, Chapters Bookstore, visits from and chats with Bob of The Gutter Bookshop and Louisa of Raven Books in Blackrock, friendly Facebook messages from Vanessa here at Writing.ie. Not to mention enthusiastic customers who seem delighted that another space for books has appeared in their midst. Almost everyday, some lovely person has come by to wish me good luck.
Don’t get me wrong. There’s been plenty of quiet time. I know the going will be rough for quite a while and that there’s still a lot of strife and hard work to come, but with every encouraging word, a little bit of the hope and desire that I have for The Loft to become a successful and engaging place to be is reinforced.
Above all, this confidence-bolstering feedback helps me continue doing what I love. There’s really nothing quite like putting a book in someones hand, feeling it’s the right one for them, then having them come back a week later and tell you how much they loved it. It’s communication, true interaction and it’s way more rewarding than getting a new “Like” on Facebook (although that’s nice too).