A few years ago a bookshop took just £7.50 in sales, prompting it to post a plea for support on Facebook.
The press heard of it, customers appeared and sales went up. It was a wonderful story and filled me with hope. Then on 23rd April, 2016, the bookshop closed.
After two years of attempting to visit, I finally made it to The Saltaire Bookshop on Friday, 22nd April.
The bookshop was obviously emptied of a significant amount of its stock and only a shadow of its former self, but even in the sadness of closure I was able to experience a glimpse of what was being lost. What little remained of the heavily discounted books meant I swiftly chose my purchase (Crome Yellow by Aldous Huxley), and so I was left to dawdle, look and listen.
Saying hello to the bookseller, his love for the bookshop was clear. We chatted about his future and books and it wasn't long before more customers joined in. It became one of those unexpected conversations only book lovers can have, taking in everything from the joy of a good book find to the – in my opinion sad – popularity of internet shopping, while inevitably circling back to the loss of the bookshop and the need for people to make the effort to support these important parts of their community.
Indeed, after that Facebook plea back in 2014 my slowness to visit The Saltaire Bookshop is not something I'm proud of, but I can't immediately visit every bookshop and what difference can my one book purchase make?
Well, the initial answer is not a lot. But us readers aren't one person. We're lots of individuals who make up a massive community of book-buyers. And okay, we couldn't all become regular visitors to this one bookshop, but we can become regular visitors to our own locals.
As someone who's never shopped on that dread website I know I'm in the minority, so I'm not about to start lecturing you all on the joys of returning to the high street. However, what if every one of you was to make one change?
What if you were to all buy at least every fourth book from your local bookshop instead of online? Individually that wouldn't make much of a difference to anything, but collectively it probably averages out at everyone making one visit to their local bookshop a month – which means a lot of extra book sales in the real world.
Although how anyone could limit their bookshop visits to once a month is beyond me.
The Saltaire Bookshop (RIP)
1 Myrtle Place, Saltaire, Bradford,
West Yorkshire, BD18 4NB