Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Theology books in my bookshop, the last section to be reduced to below internet prices.

Outside of the internet it is now very difficult to find any source of secondhand theology books in southeast England.

SPCK Mowbray in Canterbury High Street used to have a secondhand department upstairs, the SPCK chain of general bookshops with large religious sections were a victim of their charitable status. At one time they only had to get 25% religious sales to maintain their existence and as they the supplied churches in the diocese they were situated in, with hymnals, service books, candles, incense, communion wine and so this wasn’t too difficult to maintain.

It also meant that they provided general bookshops to towns that wouldn’t have had them. A mixture of the charity commissioners raising this percentage and the secularisation of the UK ended this happy state of affairs.

I try to maintain a reasonable selection of secondhand religious books, focused more on theology than sentimental devotional books and customers come from considerable distances to buy the books in it.

I have spent today working on the first of two bookcases of them. Frankly there was little there that was cheaper on the internet, but there was a considerable amount that had been on the shelf since before the beginning of 2012 and most of this got its price reduced considerably.

We are closed tomorrow as it is Thursday but I expect to finish of this mammoth task of checking the stock early next week, I have to go over some of the first sections I did, as I don’t think I was ruthless enough. It was only by doing it that I came to understand the effect that modern technology has had on secondhand book prices.

I think one of the key aspects here is that many general reference books have been completely replaced by the internet, the telephone book being a prime example, with Halliwells being replaced with the imdb, biographical dictionaries being replaced by Wikipedia and so on.

One does wonder, when doing the theology books, if hymnals will be replaced with the tablet. Will the bishop sing mass from his Kindle? Will there be a plainsong app?

From the perspective of having three children in full time education, I am convinced that we risk considerable future problems from moving too quickly from academic paper books to academic e-books. Without much in the way of research into the way people absorb information.


  1. I daresay that Michael has books by John Cleese, and this gives me a thin excuse to post the following:

    John Cleese has it about right:

    "The English are feeling the pinch in relation to recent events in Syria and have therefore raised their security level from "...Miffed" to "Peeved." Soon, though, security levels may be raised yet again to "Irritated" or even "A Bit Cross." The English have not been "A Bit Cross" since the blitz in 1940 when tea supplies nearly ran out. Terrorists have been re-categorized from "Tiresome" to "A Bloody Nuisance." The last time the British issued a "Bloody Nuisance" warning level was in 1588, when threatened by the Spanish Armada.

    The Scots have raised their threat level from "Pissed Off" to "Let's get the Bastards." They don't have any other levels. This is the reason they have been used on the front line of the British army for the last 300 years.

    The French government announced yesterday that it has raised its terror alert level from "Run" to "Hide." The only two higher levels in France are "Collaborate" and "Surrender." The rise was precipitated by a recent fire that destroyed France 's white flag factory, effectively paralysing the country's military capability.

    Italy has increased the alert level from "Shout Loudly and Excitedly" to "Elaborate Military Posturing." Two more levels remain: "Ineffective Combat Operations" and "Change Sides."

    The Germans have increased their alert state from "Disdainful Arrogance" to "Dress in Uniform and Sing Marching Songs." They also have two higher levels: "Invade a Neighbour" and "Lose."

    Belgians, on the other hand, are all on holiday as usual; the only threat they are worried about is NATO pulling out of Brussels.

    The Spanish are all excited to see their new submarines ready to deploy. These beautifully designed subs have glass bottoms so the new Spanish navy can get a really good look at the old Spanish navy.

    Australia, meanwhile, has raised its security level from "No worries" to "She'll be alright, Mate." Two more escalation levels remain: "Crikey! I think we'll need to cancel the barbie this weekend!" and "The barbie is cancelled." So far no situation has ever warranted use of the last final escalation level.

    -- John Cleese - British writer, actor and tall person.

  2. LTP,

    Certainly not, as everyone knows the FO is always on the side of the foreigner. To behave otherwise would have impaired our presence on the cocktail circuit, old boy.

  3. See old 0% is going to town over on Eastcliff Richard's site, talking to himself as usual, because today he cannot get on here. Does mean we could discuss theology without Manston pollution springing up and, on thread, I agree with Michael entirely about leaping too quickly from paper books to e-books for the young. Saw a TV programme the other day where children in a pre-school class, admittedly in the USA, were reading from i-pads instead of children's books and one has to wonder. Sure most of us older folk had books we treasured as children and which we looked at over and over again. Surely that must help the learning process.

  4. Just got to the blog after my day off, so I am afraid anonymous comment has been turned off all day, I have just spammed the LTP comments, as I said I would.

    0% will come in for the same treatment here, as will comments from anyone with a history of spamming.

    This is no reflection on the rights or wrongs of what they may be saying and would apply to someone selling PPI claim services, they may be very good services, the comments may well be correct. However I have neither the time nor the inclination to find out.

    My recommendation to 0%, LTP or anyone with a narrow and repetitive line of comment that has very little to do with the dialogue here is, get your own blog or website and put your views on it.

  5. Can anon comments be turned off permanently? They really don;t bring anything worthwhile to any discussion I have seen...

    1. I agree. The majority of the Anons eminate from the same nutter.

    2. I've suggested that already, but I think Michael secretly likes all the drama!

  6. Can the three stooges be turned off permanently?

    1. Driver, James and and aquifer man, now wouldn't that be nice :)

    2. Anon 4:54pm,

      I keep telling you, your posting on this blog is not part of your care in the community programme. It just makes you worse.

  7. Matt over on Thanet Star made commenting more difficult recently. The result? Zero comments on his last 4 posts!

    1. That's what comes of trying to stifle the free speech of someone simply because you disagree with their view.

    2. just like you did hamilton, no free speech on your blog. "dont do as I do do as I say eh!!"

    3. Only one particularly pointless peon's posts will not not be forced on my readers 6:00. Perhaps you would like to make a real and cogent comment, but you will have to leave the cowards cloak of anonymity behind you I'm afraid.

  8. When is Michael going to paint or at least clean the outside of his shop? When I walked past it the other day I even saw some rotting wood hanging down above the windows, a right old state and dangerous too.

  9. Replies
    1. This is always a difficult one, for the last 500 years secondhand and antiquarian booksellers have done everything they can to put off the people who are not actually interested in their book stock. Looking permanently closed is one of the most effective ways of doing this.

    2. Introduce yourself next time you use the shop John, that way Michael will know who you are.


Please note comments that may be libellous, comments that may be construed as offensive, anonymous derogatory comments about real people, comments baiting internet trolls, comments saying that an anonymous comment was made by a named real person, boring comments and spam comments, comments in CAPs will be deleted. Playground stuff like calling real people by their time stamp or surname alone, referring to groups as gangs, old duffers and so on will result in deletion. Comment that may be construed as offensive to minority groups is not allowed here either, so think before you write it, remember that the internet is a public place, that it is very difficult to be truly anonymous and that everyone who uses it leaves a trail of some sort. Also note the facility to leave anonymous comment will be turned of during periods when I am unable to monitor comment, this will not affect people commenting who are signed on to their blogger accounts. When things are particularly difficult on the commercial spam front I may turn comment moderation on for periods.

If you feel that someone has left a comment that is offensive and directed at you personally please email me (link on the sidebar) asking to have it removed, you will need to tell which post and the date and timestamp of the offending comment. Please do not reply to the offending comment as I will assume you continuing the dialogue as meaning that you want the comments left there.