The floors creak in daunt books. Books line the walls of two storeys of stories and the musty perfume of crisp parchment, perfectly typeset pages of knowledge and narrative, fills the air. The weight of human creative and academic pursuit is carried on that scent. It has gravity. With each step a creak, that imposes upon that gravity, unavoidably of course until one settles on a shelf. But which shelf? No keyboard to tap on to search here, just broad categories and alphabetisation. All the better to stumble upon something a little different – a discovery of one’s own, rather than the sterile, predictable recommendation of a computer. When you’re perusing those shelves, you become the entropy in the system, the occasional mutation in the otherwise predictable algorithm which internet-bound shoppers rely upon and follow for inhuman guidance.
James Daunt, founder and namesake of this literary cornucopia, has made a success of his latest challenge at the helm of Waterstones. Once a shop which I avoided, recent experiences at Waterstones have been overwhelmingly positive. The staff are knowledgable and very helpful. The displays are interesting, relevant and varied. The shelves are well stocked. I feel compelled to purchase at Waterstones now, and branches I’ve used in Clapham and Brighton have become places of discovery similar to Daunt Books. My reading is slow enough for this to be bad news, for my backlog is growing at a tremendous rate, but you can never have enough books, can you?
In other news, I’m very excited to have managed to scrape a ticket for TEDx Brighton on 25th October. I’m particularly looking forward to hearing from Aral Balkan, whose Prometheus initiative is something I’d love to get involved in, and who is heavily involved in Code Club. I also share a (relatively passive) interest in the application of mathematical analysis to sociological phenomena with Mick Taylor, a mathematician whose OurFest experiment sounds incredibly interesting.