I worried at the time about the effect of the bookshelves’ shape on a stock consisting of flat (if compressible) items. A bibliophile oughtn’t to imagine such things. The system of classification, archly Fry, disturbed me too, and it seemed both worries had the same root. Neither set of circumstances was sustainable in such a manner as to be healthy to the bookshop and its contents.
Years of bringing the books forward on the Oxfam shelves—to enable them all to be seen and possibly bought, and to prevent them being neglected or damaged by poor air circulation—have conditioned me to shudder at the thought of shelves designed in effect to push books away from the customer. And unless you’re Alan or Stephen (or their enormous team of advisors) then you won’t know how to reshelve a book on eels. When a friend handed it to me, I tried to find a shelf to put it back on. It seemed to come from biography; well, it was a biography of eels. Was that right? Should that not matter?