Monday, May 29, 2006

Where Is My Mind?

I'm sure I'm not the only one, but sometimes you're walking around in a bubble and you never notice things that should be obvious?

Confirmation of this comes with the closure of the Ottakars George Street branch in Edinburgh, due to the lease not being renewed. Instead we'll have yet another clothes shop, so it seems. I hadn't even realised this had occurred until a friend highlighted the event. Now it is a shame as we all need competition and Waterstones branches now dominate the Edinburgh centre. Who funnily enough also have their own problems, with this long ongoing takeover and split from Amazon.

Although I always had a problem spelling the name of the chain, Ottakars offered a decent selection of books from across the genres. Sure, the layout was not ideal and there was too much focus on Scottish writing (for the tourists I know) and the big generic names, but venturing through the back was a worthwhile exercise. I'm saddened as before Ottakars, the shop was the main James Thin branch before they were taken over - so the address has been a bookshop, ever since I can remember and I've worked in central Edinburgh for over a decade now. It was also a good source of author events - including sci-fi and fantasy - and the staff were knowledgeable and friendly. I wonder what's going to happen to the distinctive clock outside the building that also mentions "bookshop" on it?

The move is an apparent result of increased competition from supermarkets - which lets face it - while offering great prices, tend to have a very limited range of titles. For instance I was in Tesco�s on Sunday (surprise, surprise) and whilst I could quite easily pick up recent releases from the Richard & Judy approved or more who-dun-it crime novels, you can forget about finding Justina Robson's latest or a classic on the racks. I just wish buyers would look outside their limited scope. If a supermarket even offered a fraction of what I enjoy reading (or at least some variety), and then I would be more inclined to shop there regularly - take note, market researchers. However I won't hold my breath, and will stick with decent independents such as the Aust Gate.

Inverness has a good sized Borders shop that I've been to a couple of times, strikes me as a nice, modern place to browse and sit down for a cuppa when required. This is what the Fife area really needs; Dunfermline and Kirkcaldy are devoid of book shopping opportunities.

I also managed to miss the annual charity book sale at a nearby church on George Street. However a friend has already highlighted some of the fantastic reads he's picked up, for next to nothing. I, must, try, to, remember, such events!

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