“Wow!” Charles Leakey says he often hears it said from people entering his secondhand bookshop. No wonder, it’s an Aladdin’s cave of 100,000 books and maps. You just know that with a little effort you’ll find something magic in there. Indeed it feels a bit like something from a Harry Potter film.
Leakey’s occupies a Gaelic church built around 1793, Charles took it over 22 years ago. Given the almost religious devotion that many us have to books and reading, it’s a good place to put the shop. “It’s a large building and I could fill a building ten times this size with books that nobody wanted. It’s all a matter of selecting books that people like and want and that’s my job I suppose. That’s what I try to do.”
There’s a big wood-burning stove, but it wasn’t lit when we visited in the middle of summer – the temperature was well into the upper teens. (Scorcher) More people were taking photographs than buying books. I really hope the shop can survive in the our online and device-obsessed world. “Even if digital books replace print, the market for second-hand books will remain.” Says Charles.
I think that a large, high-quality photography book is a much better way to see the majestic landscape pictures of Ansel Adams than a website. A book is easier to peruse, to see the detail, to see into the picture. There’s a danger that the ‘digital natives’ grow up unaware of the page-turning pleasures, and that the sheer convenience and ubiquity of our mobile phones outweighs the inferiority of the viewing experience. I found a book about Rembrandt. I love the Dutch masters and try to emulate their aesthetic in my family portraiture so I wanted it. ‘Rembrandt’s Eyes’ is written by Simon Sharma, he’s a good writer, so I bought it. Unfortunately, I could find very few photography books on Leakey’s heaving shelves of secondhand books, or I might have bought more!
Church St, Inverness, 01463 239947, https://www.facebook.com/LeakeysBookshop/