There is nothing like the romance of a bookshop, where people wander around in dreamy circles, bump into interesting strangers, flirt, buy a book, go for coffee, fall in love, get their hearts broken, then go back for consolation. We know this from films like Manhattan, Notting Hill and You’ve Got Mail. This is the “How We Met” story that we would like to tell our children and friends: “Oh, we met in the poetry section of that old bookshop in 1984, and look at us now!”
For a while, it looked as if this story might be defunct with digital bookshoppery – the e-book, the print-on-demand book. Why bother wandering around a dusty, second-hand store looking for an obscure favourite when you can surf your laptop? Why pay £7.99 for a paperback when you can get it on your iPad for £1.99?
Because we want to. Because the physical bookshop holds a lure that digital can’t quite emulate. The latest and most romantic of offering is Libreria, in the East End of London, which is 830 square feet of books, and more books. Its wooden display units are on wheels so that the floor space can be opened up for events “nearly every night”. It’s got a whisky bar too and a printing press in the basement that might one day publish its own titles.
Bookshops have been clawing back high-street space for some time by meeting what today’s customers want. Foyles had its revamp two years ago, moving up the street and offering a cleaner, sleeker shop with live events; the Waterstones on Tottenham Court Road has its own cinema. High street clothes and gifts stores such as Oliver Bonas and Urban Outfitters have for their part created “book spots” on their shop floors. These twists are apparently important to us, and have led us back to the physical store. We are, it now seems, choosing the book over the e-book.
The “physical”, it turns out, holds an appeal that cannot be surpassed by virtual technology. I hope, in years to come, couples will be telling their friends how they met in that old bookshop, Libreria, way back in 2018!
Question 1 (2 points) Indicate whether the following statements are true or false and write down which part of the text justifies your answer.
a. The furniture in Libreria is fixed to the ground.
b. Libreria prints books.
c. At one of the bookstores in London, you can watch films on a big screen.
d. Oliver Bonas and Urban Outfitters sell different types of things.
Question 2 (2 points) Answer the following questions in your own words.
a. According to classic films, why are bookshops romantic? What do people do there?
b. What are the advantages of digital books according to the text?
Question 3 (1.5 points) Find words or phrases in the text that correspond in meaning to the words and definitions given.
a. not existing anymore (par. 2) b. to make an effort (par. 2)
c. attraction (par. 3) d. renovation (par. 4) e. to beat (par. 5)
Question 4 (1.5 points) Choose the correct answer.
1. Libreria’s printing press ….
a. Publishes titles one day a week.
b. Will probably publish in the future.
c. Will only publish one title.
2. …. the wooden display units are on wheels, the floor space can be opened up for events.
3. The physical book’s appeal ...
a. surpasses that of virtual technology.
b. is surpassed by that of virtual technology.
c. turns out virtual technology.
Question 5 (3 points) Write a short essay (120-150 words) on the following topic:
‘A good film should reflect real life’. Do you agree?