Worshiping at the alter of literature

Deciding what to do with churches that no longer have a congregation to serve is an ongoing dilemma facing many places in the UK. In Bristol, several have been put to new uses, including sports clubs and a climbing centre. Here in Maastricht an ingenious new use has been found for a redundant Dominican church. Pews have been replaced by bookshelves and in place of the altar is a café. The space still retains a reverential air, which seems appropriate for those of us who still love books and are saddened to see the demise of bookshops as the rise of philistinism and tablet reading device moves ever forward.

The Guardian newspaper described this place as the best bookshop in Europe, and in terms of atmosphere they are not wrong. Perhaps this could be glimpse into the future where the bookshop becomes a place of pilgrimage in the way places of worship once were, with the ringing of cash tills replacing the ringing of bells.

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