Pala book prospers despite the offer of second-hand books on the internet

As a book lover, you can find any new or second hand book you are looking for on the internet. Still, the physical bookstore hasn’t lost its way. Tilburg’s Boekenschop, with tens of thousands of second-hand books, is flourishing like never before. Proceeds from the sale go to charity.

through emmanuel naaijkens (text + image)

About a quarter of a century ago, José van Lieshout-van de Wiel in Tilburg and a few other people started selling second-hand books, especially in markets. Fifteen years later, the demand for second-hand books was so great that a store was rented on the Bredaseweg in Tilburg. That bookstore also got a name, Boekenschop (in dialect, ‘shovel’ means shed). The furniture has recently been moved to a larger building behind the Westermarkt. A space where a billiards center was located for many years. Where before you heard the sound of billiard balls bouncing, now you hear the rustle of pages turning.

Joseph van Lieshout-van de Wielcoordinator of the Boekenschop.

How many books are on the shelves? José, coordinator of the Boekenschop, can only hit him roughly. It is estimated that there are between thirty and forty thousand, not counting the books in the warehouse. That number runs into the thousands. The range is very wide, with fiction and non-fiction, and is clearly organized into categories. The Boekenschop’s books have usually been read one or more times, which is in keeping with the idea of ​​the sustainable cycle.

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At Boekenschop they know how to value books. Not only in price, but also because of the inner meaning. Het Boekenschop is a foundation and the shop is run by a team of about ten volunteers. And these are all book lovers who also like to share their reading experience with customers, says Van Lieshout.

That’s why people who want to reduce their book collection or get rid of them altogether like to knock on the Boekenschop’s door. They know that their sometimes carefully constructed collection is treated with respect there. And that the proceeds from the sale go to charities in and around Tilburg. Therefore, Boekenschop does not buy books, as merchants do. They are donated.

The new building of the book shovel behind the Westermarkt in Tilburg.

Living in a smaller home is often a reason for a book owner to take another critical look at the bookcase. But the Boekenschop also offers books of deceased people. These collections often contain books by widely read authors, often from generations ago. Think, for example, of Louis Couperus, Gerard Reve, Simon Vestdijk, Hugo Claus, Jan Cremer, Godfried Bomans, WF Hermans, Harry Mulisch, Louis Paul Boon, Anna Blaman, A. den Doolaard, and Hella Haase. Still, there is real demand for these kinds of ‘old-fashioned’ books, says Van Lieshout. For example, with literature students, high school teachers or book lovers who want to reread an ‘old’ out of nostalgia.

suspense novels

Contemporary thrillers are one of the best-selling categories. They fly out of the store, but they often come back quickly because the buyer usually doesn’t buy these books for the bookstore. Local and regional history is also a category of great interest. A lot of space has been reserved for children’s books, a category that is doing well. Not only children with or without their parents or grandparents are successful, but also teachers who want to build a school library cheaply.

Here you can find more than thirty thousand books.

Nowadays, book lovers can order any (second-hand) book that interests them from their lazy couch on the Internet. Wandering through book stalls for hours in search of a particular topic is no longer necessary. It would be said, the end of the true old bookstore, but nothing is further from reality. There are still many book lovers who find it a pleasure to browse in a physical bookstore. The Boekenschop offers special books and special editions through the webshop

Books 4 Life is located at Tilburg University, a national organization that, like Boekenschop, donates proceeds from sales to charity. Books 4 Life obviously has a lot of scientific work on the shelves, and the Boekenschop barely deals with it. Therefore, clients refer each other in a collegiate manner.

book Fair
Prosperity has grown enormously in recent decades and with it the book market. Combined with lower production costs, more and more writers find a publisher for their manuscript. The number of book titles has increased tremendously. It is difficult to compare figures of the past with those of today, but these two examples give an impression.
In 1953, 890 novels were published, 425 of which were written by Dutch writers. In 2019, approximately 3,600 book titles from publications originally in Dutch appeared in the literary-cultural category (such as novels). Titles of ‘on demand’ (self-published publications) are not included. The total number of books sold is a multiple of the turnover in the 1950s.

Het Boekenschop, DJ Jittastraat 2, Tilburg. Open from Monday to Friday from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

The Brabant Cultural Foundation receives an annual donation from the Boekenschop.

Image above this article: Super bargains can be found in Bordeaux boxes, good for 12 bottles; for 50 euro cents, Arnon Grunberg, Geert Mak, Thomas Rosenboom and Connie Palmen, among others, expect new readers.

© Cultural Brabant 2022

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