I have just learned via a retweet on Twitter that my local Waterstones in Watford, Hertfordshire has closed. It had been there for so long I don’t remember it opening, and I visited it for years.
Three floors – yes, THREE – of books. A lower ground floor for children’s, fiction on the ground floor, and cookery, history etc upstairs. The staff were always knowledgeable and helpful, as well as friendly. It was a big enough store to wonder around for a while, with lots of different genre sections and comfy seats. Fiction was huge, as was history and sci fi & fantasy. They also sold Moleskines and lovely cards.
There used to be a big Borders store in Watford as well. I worked there for a few months in 2007, and while it wasn’t the most thrilling job I loved being around books and readers all day. It closed in 2009 or 2010 and has been empty ever since. It’s a big store (with a mezzanine floor that used to house a Starbucks and the staff room) and now it is a big, miserable reminder of the recession and the vulnerability of book shops.
Now my beloved Waterstones store will play the same role. A big store, once full of books, now dark and empty. I’m all for independent book shops, but in a town like Watford only chains would have a chance. Now we only have W. H. Smith’s, and I have never bought a book there. It’s all Katie Price, Richard & Judy and 50 Shades of Grey. Ugh.
I weep for humanity. And I will not be able to walk past my empty Waterstones without turning away.