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Friday, 7 August 2009
Oxfam and secondhand bookshops
The BBC and other media (The Guardian) have recently picked up on complaints made by some secondhand bookshops that Oxfam's network of secondhand shops - for which I have been poet in residence for 5 years - is putting them out of business. Little mention has been made of the good work Oxfam does, of mutual benefit to them and the writers, in establishing innovative cultural platforms across the UK for poetry and other writing, such as their Lifelines CDs, and the recent fortnight book festival, the biggest of its kind anywhere in the world. While I am sure having excellent Oxfam used bookshops nearby provides competition, it is likely the pressures on all book-sellers come more from the Internet, where used books are easily located and cheaply shipped. If anything, the Oxfam shops are extending a quality network of secondhand bookshops to communities and areas that might not otherwise have them.