OpinioN8

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Prospero's Books , an almost independent bookshop in Crouch End is due to shut on December 24th 2010, probably to become an ice cream parlour. This would put a dent in the claim that CE is "a haven of independent shops, cafes and bars" as the landscape becomes even more homogeneous with yet another A3 outlet.

There does seem to be a somewhat dispirited movement on Twitter (search for #savethebookshop) to mount some sort of campaign to save it as a bookshop, though with rent and rates at over £1000 a week it seems unlikely that this shop can survive in this format in this location. It might also be the thin end of a wedge if book buyers no longer see CE as a place to buy books and and the remainder shop by the clock tower and the Oxfam charity shop start to fade.

 

Book lovers in Wood Green tackled a similar problem when the high street bookshop closed by opening The Big Green Bookshop in a side street, where presumably rent and rates are viable.

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The Big Green Bookshop is always empty when I go in it, though. I'm really upset about this, as I love Prospero's, and I use it a lot.

 

The discount book shop by the clock tower is so much cheaper. With that competitor and Amazon I can see how Prosperos has lost customers.

I don't know whether it has lost customers - maybe there are just as many as ever but the overheads (£58,000 rent and rates) are not manageable for a small business.

The chap in Vina's newsagents tells me his rent is going up from £12,000 to £35,000 when the current lease expires. The chippy told me a similar story not long ago.  Story is only 4 landlords own most of Crouch End's shops, so they can hold out for high rents as long as some of the units are let. So even my attempts to do most of my shopping locally to support local businesses will be frustrated. You can only have your nails done so often!

I heard that Prospero's owner wants to retire, and is selling up because of that, rather than because the business is no longer viable. But I can quite imagine rents having something to do with it, it's just getting ridiculous round here.

Someone called Dave Cohen, who seems to know Crouch End quite well, has written a pome about Prospero's a sort of lament, and how it's closure is only the thin end of a wedge. He seems to be inciting mass action to prevent the wedge penetrating any further  I wonder if he has met the twitter mourners? I think his proposed Amazon boycott is no more likely to succeed  than my refusal to subscribe to Sky. An dyet I wish him good fortune.

I see they have put up a poster in the shop window with the following very apt passage

 

Now my charms are all o'erthrown,
And what strength I have's mine own,
Which is most faint: now, 'tis true,
I must be here confined by you,
Or sent to Naples. Let me not,
Since I have my dukedom got
And pardon'd the deceiver, dwell
In this bare island by your spell;
But release me from my bands
With the help of your good hands:
Gentle breath of yours my sails
Must fill, or else my project fails,
Which was to please. Now I want
Spirits to enforce, art to enchant,
And my ending is despair,
Unless I be relieved by prayer,
Which pierces so that it assaults
Mercy itself and frees all faults.
As you from crimes would pardon'd be,
Let your indulgence set me free .

 

- Prospero's Farewell.

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