Oxfam?

I was very surprised to find that Susan Hill blogs, but it seems she does. The surprise arose from the fact that I was under the impression she doesn’t like our lot. I must have been mistaken.

What Susan doesn’t like is Oxfam. There have been a few blogs based on her feelings, so I’m just adding mine to the pile. I’m doing so because since marrying the Resident IT Consultant at the beginning of time, I have been sort of related to Oxfam, what with the Grandmother volunteering with them for decades. She’s still going strong, and is happy with the fact that her local Oxfam turned into one of these vile bookshops.

The Stirling Oxfam is a good bookshop, in a good position, and from what I gather they do sensible things with their books and their prices. I have no idea if they’ve forced anyone out of business, but they are where they have been for a long time, next to a bus stop, and customers come in and buy while waiting for the bus.

If I have time now that I’m up in Scotland, I will pop in and examine the situation. But it stands to reason that they won’t ask prices that are so high that people won’t buy. And having once given a friend bags and bags of books to sell for a charity he supported, and finding that they went for 10p each, was a shock. I had hoped ‘my’ books would do more good than that. But had I been buying them, I’d have been pleased to pay so little.

Shows what a turncoat I am.

But, I look in all the charity shops when I’m buying. Sometimes I will do a Susan Hill and not buy from Oxfam if the price is roughly the same as the new book would be on Amazon. I prefer the cheaper shops, obviously. My experience from doing the rounds of all of them before Christmas every year is that you can’t know what you’ll find in any given charity’s shop. It’s not as if readers of certain authors’ books only give to one particular charity.

Oxfam is in business to make money. Not for shareholders, but for the recipients of various projects. It makes sense that they charge as much as they can, and that they start up new shops in places where they think they will do well. I hope that doesn’t mean that other charities are forced out.

And as the Grandmother pointed out over breakfast, people complain that the books are expensive and then they happily fork out £2 for cards. Each. Often more than one card.

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8 responses to “Oxfam?

  1. I don’t agree with Susan Hill about Oxfam. As a writer I am satisfied if my book is purchased once. That’s my royalty (pittance though it is) and what happens to the book then is up to the person who bought it. I would much rather it went on to A. another reader via a charity shop and B. make some money for a charity.
    Now if this affects independent bookshops that is a problem and I imagine that the most successful independent bookshops will find other ways of attracting custom in the same way they’ve had to face up to the supermarkets. That is another subject for a another blog.
    The other reason I like books going to charity shops is that I really think charity shops attract a different sort of reader. Many readers are not comfortable in places like Waterstones or bookshops full stop. They don’t consider themselves ‘booky’ people, they don’t read the review pages and so on. These people browse quiet comfortably in charity shops and find books they like. Who knows whether that might propell them towards WHSmiths or where ever to buy the next book by that writer.

  2. Went and read the piece – quite a rant. I live near a town with no ‘new books’ bookshop except WH Smith’s. There’s an Oxfam shop that sells books and clothes and Fairtrade, plus about six other charity shops that do the same, plus an enormous independent secondhand bookshop from which I can find anything about anything. It doesn’t seen affected by the presence of Oxfam. I buy books from all of these sources, and I buy books from Amazon, and when I’m in a town with a independent ‘new books’ bookshop, I buy from them too.

    The thing about buying secondhand books, for me, is that it’s extra’ to my other ‘new’ book buying. It’s serendipitous.

  3. We’ve got an Oxfam bookshop on our nearest shopping parade. If it wasn’t there, it would probably be an estate agent’s like every single other thing down there…

  4. So deceptively spacious you can’t even swing a cat.

    Serendipitous. Yes. It’s the fact that you never know what you’ll find, and how you can come across the most perfect book when you least expect it. Though that’s not just Oxfam , but any charity shop.

  5. It seems that Susan Hill is very busy making herself unpopular. Well, I didn´t like her crime novels that much anyway. She writes well, but she tends to forget that they are sold as crime stories.

  6. I’m with Katherine. And I adore charity bookshops, particularly the Oxfam variety. I bought Robert Graves’ Goodbye to All That this very morning at an Oxfam bookshop — I’ve already read it two or three times, so am less likely to spring for a new copy, but my own copy has disappeared. So now, besides the pleasure of owning it again, if I press it upon a new reader, I don’t need to insist on having it back. Which is just as well, as I never seem to get books back….

  7. Well then, Goodbye To All That seems an apt title. No need to press in my direction. I’ve got my copy and I don’t ‘lend’ books because I’m a nasty kind of witch.

  8. Sensible, more like.

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