Buying books ... sometimes

Lorcan 1 min read

When I was in Edinburgh recently I spent some time trying to find Dai Smith‘s recently published biography of Raymond Williams (which was published in the UK, but not yet in the US). It was not to be had in Blackwell’s or Waterstones and I was surprised not to find it in Word Power Books. The person at one of the information desks in the chains noted that they had one copy on order for someone, and made a remark about it being published by a ‘small Welsh publisher’ as if in mitigation.
Although I order books from time to time from Amazon I still find that I prefer to buy books I have been waiting for in a shop. Even though it often means waiting longer for them, I have a fond – but mistaken – feeling that I will get them quicker this way. If it is not available locally, I think I can pick it up on my next trip. Having it come through the mail is just not the same as the pleasure of discovering it on the shelf 😉
I was interested to see the recently published collected poems of Edward Thomas edited by Edna Longley on the home page of Word Power Books. I was looking for this the other day in our local Borders but did not find it. It seems to me it carries less stock than it did when we arrived in Columbus, gulp, seven years ago. I am definitely disappointed more often …..
Anyway, this wouldn’t deserve a blog entry except that I have just been reading Stefan Collini’s review of Smith’s biography in the London Review of Books (and I like making opportunities to link to lots of Identities pages ;-).

Claims that everything is going to the dogs all too often rest on the hidden supports of parochialism, snobbery, class insouciance and a wilful refusal of the intellectual effort required to try to draw up a more realistic balance sheet of gain and loss. Williams fought against those things all along the line. It is hard to come away from this biography without admiring the way he made himself strong enough to fight that fight to such good effect. [LRB · Stefan Collini: Upwards and Onwards]

I wonder what Williams would make of the current discussion about reading and the web ……

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