nettime's_roving_reporter on Wed, 12 Apr 2000 03:07:58 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> oldest bookstore closes


   April 7 2000
   Internet kills off oldest bookshop
   JOHN Smith & Son, the world's oldest bookseller and a favourite of the
   poet Robert Burns, is to shut its doors in Glasgow after losing the
   battle against book superstores and online discount shopping.
   The decision to end trading at its famous St Vincent Street address
   has sent shockwaves through the Scottish book world. Its store at
   Byers Road in Glasgow's West End will also close, with the loss of 50
   The firm was founded in 1751 by John Smith, the youngest son of the
   Laird of Craigend, who opened a shop on Trongate selling books, snuff
   and coffee to Glasgow's tobacco merchants.
   Robert Burns was among the shop's many customers and after a visit in
   1788 he praised the decency of the Glasgow bookseller. In a letter to
   Mr Smith, Burns wrote: "You seem a very decent sort of folk, you
   Glasgow booksellers. But eh! They're sair birkies in Edinburgh." (sair
   birkies meaning sour, mean-spirited people.)
   John Smith & Son is the longest continuously-trading bookseller in the
   world. The Cambridge University Press is more than a century older,
   but has changed hands and closed down on occasions.
   Willie Anderson, John Smith's managing director, said: "I feel very
   sad, but we couldn't see how we could claw back sales."

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