The story in the Daily Mail today calls bookseller, Steve Bloom the ‘Bookseller from hell’, but we’re going with real life Bernard Black as the North-Yorkshire bookseller attracts criticism for his grumpy behaviour!
Steve Bloom runs Bloomindales in the North-Yorkshire market town of Hawes, but over the past four years more than twenty complains have been submitted to the parish council, plus a litany of complaints on the bookshops Trip Advisor page.
However, Mr Bloom is unrepentant and even said to be proud of his grumpy behaviour, with no intention of changing his ways at all. The complaints centre around Bloom’s rudeness to customers, and his 50p charge to even enter the shop, behaviour that has led to the parish council giving the bookseller a stern warning to change his attitude or leave the town!
It’s a story right off the screen of the Channel 4 series Black Books where grumpy bookseller, Bernard Black portrays the bookseller from hell! Just imagining how Bernard Black might respond to the parish council has me chuckling, and if I’m honest, I now just want to go to Bloomindales.
Maybe that’s because I come from a time when all booksellers were a bit Bernard Black and these are being replaced with smiling Waterstones assistants at the rate of about ten a week. Comedy works best when it runs to a true stereotype and that’s what makes Black Books work!
If you’ve never seen Black Books and you’re wondering what we’re on about, check out this clip.
Here are some of the Trip Advisor reviews for Bloomindales and they could easy be comedy reviews for Black Books.
‘The guy charges 50p to enter the book shop? He should advertise the fact outside the store and save people wasting their time going in. I went to the shop next door and browsed for free and then purchased three books.’
‘Stopped in Hawes and among other places went into the “bookshop” in the Market Hall. My wife and I got a very rude reception; the miserable little man who runs it (he’s been there for donkey’s years) wanted to charge us an entrance fee! Now that’s a first… 50p each, refundable on making a purchase. We thought he was “having us on”; he wasn’t! We exchanged a few words, told him we have never paid to go into a bookshop yet and weren’t going to start now. This bookseller is a disgrace to the trade. As a retired bookseller myself I would never, even in my wildest dreams, think of charging a potential customer to visit my shop. It is a great shame this awful man doesn’t just hand over the business to somebody worthy of association with the book trade.’
While the 50p charge may seem a lot given it’s a market bookshop, Bloomindales isn’t the only bookshop to charge an entry fee. The beautiful Lello bookshop in Portugal also charges €3 entry and like Bloomindales it’s refundable on any purchase. While this might seem a little steep, bookshops are having a hard time surviving in the world of instant Amazon downloads. Often we hear stories of ‘customers’ who peruse bookshops, get advice on books, take photos for Instagram and then walk out empty handed, to buy their purchases cheaper online possibly.
Personally I could spend as long in a bookshop as many people spend watching a movie. Bookshops aren’t like other businesses, they’re a refuge, a place to hide out. Throw in a grumpy bookseller to amuse me too, and the 50p seems like small change!
What do you think?