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"Use every man after his desert, and who should 'scape whipping?"

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Bugger! London has lost another great second-hand bookshop

My Back Pages, Balham, one of the best 2nd hand bookshops in SW London,  has closed down.
Believe it (or not) - two weeks ago I started a new post on the glories of the few remaining secondhand bookshops in South London.

As it happened, my three favourites were all located in places beginning with 'B' - Blackheath, Brixton and Balham.

Now that brave trio is down to even braver brace. The Balham  shop - My Back Pages - has gone. As I discovered to my horror and rage today, out shopping for birthday present books for my son.

I last went there less than a month ago, when it seemed its normal, glorious, ramshackle self, a wonderful labyrinth of shelving snaking through at least two former station parade shops facing Balham tube and BR station.

To my shame, I only discovered this shop about six years ago and in that time have bought a grand total of - what - about a dozen books there.

For each book I bought I probably spent three hours in the shop. It was that sort of place, where you could get lost in dark corners of the shop, find something fascinating and start reading.

It was great for  classics, art and travel, great for foreign fiction and film books, and many other things I had no interest in. Once or twice I spoke to the manager, who generally seemed more cheerful and optimistic than your average second-hand book shop owner.

In 2008 the shop received a boost from this little review in the Guardian. But evidently, this was not enough.

Now it's all gone, empty except for a few shelves.

If only I - and thousands of other book-lovers in this once bohemian part of south west London - had got behind this shop. Good God, the name of the shop alone should  have been enough to make all us middle-aged Dylanites to gather there like moths.

Note to self and everyone else who likes books and lives with five miles of Coldharbour Lane in Brixton - support Bookmongers now or collapse into a puddle of guilty tears. And to cheer yourselves up after the sad news on My Back Pages, watch the video on Vimeo!

And to find more independent bookshops, use the excellent London Bookshop Map.

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