I’m annoyed. Someone has scared away all the bookshops. I generally buy books on-line or go to the library so I’m probably as guilty of scaring away all the bookshops as anyone else. even the second hand bookshops that used to dot the high street seem to be hiding.
I think it says something bad about a town when you pop into the only shop that sells books (WH Smiths) and ask them where the science section is, only to be show a solitary shelf. Admittedly the shelf did have A Brief History of Time and a couple of other good books but it was largely dominated by a book of photographs of volcanoes. I’m sure it is a very interesting book but hardly the sum total of popular science. It wouldn’t be so bad if I hadn’t walked past the three shelf units (8 shelves each) of “Sad Real Life Tales” on the way to the science shelf. This was situated at the bottom of a set of shelves for travel books.
Let me tell you why I find this disheartening. Robert has recommended “A Demon Haunted World” by Carl Sagan. It seems to be out of print and I can’t buy it new online. I can pick it up second hand and I probably will but I wanted to see it and hold it first. I wanted to see what other books were near it in the book shop. I want to see what else is available that I might find interesting.
When I read A Brief History of Time for the first time in 1989 it sparked my interest to read more. I saw Chaos: Making a New Science on the shelf, liked the cover, thought the idea was interesting and read that. This went on. I read fiction of many genres, sci-fi and fantasy being favourites, I read autobiographies and social commentaries and every now and then I like to pick up a popular science book and have a good read. Sometimes I even understand what I’m reading. 🙂
It worries me that my shelves at home contain more science books that the book shop. Significantly more. It worries me that future generations will not even have the option of picking an interesting book with some science in it. Instead they will have only vacuous, ghost written crud from pseudo celebrities.