Capitalism can only go backwards, it has nowhere else to go!

Although it is only a matter of time, capitalism hasn’t collapsed yet; but even so, right now the way it is going backwards is still a groove sensation – empty retail units and what only a couple of years ago would have seemed like really unlikely pop-ups in place of tedious corporate chains.

As a teenager in the 1970s I always loved exchange bookshops and there were plenty of them in London, even in the centre of town… you’d buy a paperback and if you didn’t want to keep it you could trade it in at half price for something else. The selection was always radically different to the local library, far more trash for a start… I found exchange bookshops a great source of cheap crime novels, fantasy, sci-fi and horror.

Like so many of the classic family owned cafes in London, exchange bookshops disappeared at a fantastic rate during the eighties and nineties. The last one I used with any regularity was on Eldon Street, just west of Liverpool Street station, it was there through much of the nineties, and I often combined a visit to it with a meal in The Copper Grill a couple of doors down; the cafe closed down in 2004, the bookshop some time before.

I haven’t noticed any sixties-style cafes springing up around London recently, but I have clocked a ‘brand new secondhand’ shop just east of Liverpool Street station called Bob’s Book Exchange (which opened this summer). Bob is a friendly geezer who promotes his activities with the following blurbs: “Buy used books and save trees. Save money when you exchange a book. Massive range of fiction & non-fiction books in stock. Books bought for cash. 11 Devonshire Row, London EC2M 4RQ.” And aside from finding the place open well outside its advertised hours, I’ve also overheard some really groovy conversations. For example:

Customer: “Have you got  a copy of The Gorse Trilogy by Patrick Hamilton?”

Bob: “No, but you can buy it new.”

Customer: “Some people think I’m strange but I don’t like new books. I only like secondhand paperbacks. When I open a new book I worry I’m going to break the spine. They’re too clean. I won’t buy a new book. I just don’t like them.”

And while you’re at it don’t forget to check – – you know it makes (no) sense!

About mistertrippy

Stewart Home was born in south London in 1962. His mother Julia Callan-Thompson was a showgirl and club hostess. He has never held down a regular job for more than a few months at a time. On those rare occasions when he's been forced to work, Home has taken employment as a factory labourer, agricultural labourer, shop assistant, office clerk and art class model. Deciding he didn't like working in factories as a teenager, Home pursued cultural and political interests, writing many books and participating in even more gallery exhibitions.
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20 thoughts on “Capitalism can only go backwards, it has nowhere else to go!

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Capitalism can only go backwards, it has nowhere else to go! « Mister Trippy --

  2. Zen Master K says:

    The smell of old books is pure horny!

  3. Last night you told me that I’m pure horny!

  4. Time says:

    I really like the part – empty retail units 🙂

  5. Alec Empire says:

    Redefine the enemy!

  6. Was it Nigel Havers asking for the Hamilton?

    Up here on the main drags, the unused shopping spaces are returning to the rag and bone men and furniture removal guys. Old Calor Gas heaters permeate the ether.

    Indoor stalls in large markets would be good to see again. Cheap boho malls. 24 hour car boot sales. More fumes.

    I was wondering if books were still the fetish they used to be and then I saw yr economic interpretation of “69 things”‘ infiltration of academia on youtube.

    I watched the Arena show about Sham 69 last night – “Tell Us The Truth”. I don’t know what game Pursey was playing but he had some bottle and they were a good musical band on their night.

  7. Paul Noble says:

    There’s nothing like taking a dump in a musty old book.

  8. Book Slut says:

    I wouldn’t touch a used book, I only read uncorrected proofs sent directly to me by a publicist.

  9. It’s the beginning of the end…..

  10. Simon Strong says:

    Patrick Hamilton is The Man! Have you seen the film of ‘Hangover Square’ where the hero is turned into a serial killer whose psychotic killing sprees are triggered by LOUD NOISES ? Its funty…

  11. this is like blokes and bloketts listning to music that looks good, you like want a groovie book read Too Loud a Solitude by Hrabel

  12. Know any good pubs round Liverpool Street?

  13. Oleksiy says:

    more details ’bout Communism arrival schedule

  14. Tim says:

    Glad to hear the old London is coming back, at least a little bit. Aside from a lot of empty condos – there’s some talk of turning them into affordable housing units but we’ll see if that happens or not – New York remains greatly under wraps. But another year of this – who knows?

  15. Howling Wizard,Shrieking Toad says:

    Crikey, did someone mention…..Jimmy Pursey ??

    Be afraid….be very very very……Afffffrrrrrraaaaaaiiiiiddddd……

    You want to know why eh ?

    Just watch the following clips — IF YOU DARE……..

  16. Howling Wizard,Shrieking Toad says:

    Blimey, I dunno , but Jimmy looks…..well, if not angry, then reeeaaaaallly fed up. He’s giving that mike stand some welly too.

    He meant it maaann… You can just…. tell.

  17. Howling Wizard,Shrieking Toad says:

    [Q] From Jennie Booth, Australia: I came across the phrase ” giving it some welly” in a BBC report today. I’ve not seen it before and am somewhat curious about its meaning. Can you help?

    [A] It’s a fine bit of British English slang, usually in the form “give it some welly”. This instruction, often shouted to a youth or indeed, any sort of hardy,earnest, well intentioned individual, is an exhortation employed for the purposes of encouragement or criticism,and asks for more effort to be put into whatever he or she is doing

  18. Michael K says:

    Totally agree with the ‘customer’ although I’ve gone on further to where only borrowed library books give me the horn. Used to be a total ‘got to be MINE’ person but reasons I can discern for change are, one, that the libraries are gonna become creches and internet cafes unless we borrow their books, two, that the library services have gone out of their way in recent years to make getting ANY book easier and cheaper than Amazon (I’ve occasionally had to wait a week or two on both) and three that the ‘multiple hands’ upon the books is just pure horny.

  19. Pingback: Capitalism Going Backwards? « City of strangers

  20. I’m sorry to say I had to close the shop a few months ago – but thanks to all of you who supported it while it was there. A book exchange in the City of London proved financially unviable in the current economic climate I’m afraid. Shame!