Books are it. Everything. And then some.
Bookshops, new and second-hand, seem to be disappearing all the time. In London, anyway. Charing Cross Road still has some but not as many. Remainder bookshops can be found. But proper, smelly old bookshops seem almost to have gone.
When I saw Brutus magazine from Japan had done a special issue on bookshops, I thought: I need to get a copy of that! My editor at Nippon Vogue knew an editor at Brutus and so I got my sticky paws on a copy. Thank you to them! Sticky paws is a suitable description too. Look at the lovely cover illustration with the polar bear reading a book in his sticky paws. A book also featuring a polar bear on its cover. It is drawn by Naoko Shono.
The magazine is, indeed, a complete issue on bookshops. Mainly but not exclusively Japanese bookshops. There is an awesome, totally huge bookshop in a theatre in Buenos Aires. All the Japanese bookshops look well loved, deeply curated and beautifully presented. Some sell online, like Curio Books who have a fabulous selection of illustrated books on their site. I want to order them all.
It sometimes seems to me Japan has held on to lots of nice things, in an obsessive way, that we have lost. Celebrating the selling of books in small and large shops being just one of them.
I quite get that it is sad of me to like pictures of books as much as books themselves. And somewhat sadder still to look in detail at the photographs to try see the books in them. But who knows, perhaps I’ll spot a book called ‘Get a Life’ ?