Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Culture
7 January 2011

Bye, bye HMV – now bring back the books

The HMV closures are to be expected - it's Waterstones we should be mourning over.

By Sirena Bergman

The space which used to be my local Borders has turned into an Urban Outfitters. Just down the road there is a Waterstones, and just up the road an HMV.

Recent news that the company which owns these two stores is planning on closing down 60 premises around the country is mildly saddening (especially if they all turn into the horror that is Urban Outfitters), but not exactly ground-breaking news.

In fact, the forty HMV stores which are set to close as part of a cost-cutting measure barely sadden me at all, and I consider myself something of a music lover. The last time I went into a music shop (gosh, it sounds terribly quaint, doesn’t it?) was probably when I bought myself B*Witched’s single on cassette in 1996.

I don’t own a single CD and here’s why: they’re inconvenient, expensive, lifeless and ugly. If I’m going for a digital format Spotify does the job brilliantly. A few clicks of a keyboard and I’ve got an endless supply of songs at my disposal. If I want the warm fuzzy feeling of a record turning I play my vinyl.

Select and enter your email address Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. A weekly newsletter helping you fit together the pieces of the global economic slowdown. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.

CDs fall somewhere in between, with no redeemable feature whatsoever. The death of Spotify would make me shudder – the imminent death of HMV makes me roll my eyes thinking “it’s still around?!”.

If there was ever an opposite reaction though, it would be at the thought of 20 Waterstones stores shutting down – and not just because I’m scared of pretentious clothes shops popping up in their place.

As irritatingly middle-class student-y as it may sound to fawn over the “soul” of real books (and I promise I don’t say this over a Starbuck’s bagel), I admit, slightly embarrassed, that when it comes to literature I am a true paper-and-pen-loving Luddite.

With the contempt that the fashion-savvy save for Topshop, or food connoisseurs feel for Jamie Oliver, I loathed high-street bookshops more than words can describe, taking myself on journeys to find dusty copies of Dostoevsky in a basement in Lewes every Sunday.

But however tragic the demise of the small bookshops and libraries may be, the reality is that they don’t draw people to literature – Borders did. Waterstones, hanging by the thread of its teeth, still might.

A book on a folding screen does not in any way provide a more convenient, cheap, exciting or aesthetically pleasing experience and I am at a loss to understand people’s attraction to e-readers.

Reading is just about all I have left in my life which hasn’t been invaded by cold, hard robots and it helps me sleep well to know that there’s nothing anyone can do to take away the pleasure I get from holding a real book.

Nothing except closing down all the bookshops.

Topics in this article :