Earlier this week I had a hankering for books and a pressing need to get myself out of the house for once. Because really, self, that’s not healthy. I ended up deciding I’d take a random trip to Manchester, because I’ve exhausted the more local bookshops, and I found a few second-hand shops in Manchester by googling. Armed with google maps and GPS, I ventured out. I actually had to stop after just a couple of stores, and it was mostly the fault of Paramount Books (Shudehill, Manchester City Centre, 061-834 9509, open until 7pm most days). It’s super easy to find; not too far away from Manchester Piccadilly station, on a corner near Arndale Shopping Centre.
One problem is that it’s a tiny little place, with nowhere near enough room between the aisles to get in there with a wheelchair. There’s no ramp that I could see, and I’m not convinced the door would be wide enough anyway. There is enough room to get in there if you’re using a stick, I think, but I don’t have any experience with that beyond a few days on crutches once, so I couldn’t say for sure.
First impression on walking in was, “whoa, loud classical music”, which is probably my only other complaint. Which is likely because I was just about on top of one of the speakers where I was looking at the science fiction and fantasy section. Unlike some shops that have an SF/F section, this one wasn’t dominated by just George R.R. Martin and Tolkien: there was a good selection of stuff from across the genre. Lots of stuff that I didn’t know, some stuff that I’d been wanting, and probably something for just about everyone. Apparently there’s more in the back room, too, but it was busy when I got there — and probably safer for me in the long run.
It’s not just SF/F, of course. There’s a good selection of old comics, more general interest reading, and plenty of little corners to squirrel yourself away in with a book you’re interested in or a shelf you want to study. I saw one of the owner(?)’s young relatives doing exactly that, of which I fully approve. With the loud music and so on it’s not a library, but it’s no Waterstones either — there’s no corporate efficiency, it’s much more personal than that, and no one disturbed my browsing with questions about what I’m looking for (which always annoys me when I’m blatantly browsing rather than seeking something particular). I had a great conversation with the person who took my money, who wisely mentioned liking Wales, and it really made me smile when I was also told to pick some fruit from a big bowl on the desk before I left!
They also pay cash for CDs, cassettes, videos and LPs, and sell old/valuable books as well as the usual old Poul Anderson-style paperbacks.
Things to keep in mind: not a place to find the latest releases — rely on serendipity, cash payment only, take a big bag to carry your finds home in!