During the London riots, Clapham High Street was hit hard by a nearly all black mob of thugs. They looted every single store except a book store, which was left without a scratch.
The “joke” the next day was that the rioters do not know how to read. Simon, the manager of camping shop Blacks, watched it all from an upstairs window, hiding in terror as hundreds of looters plundered his shop and the street.
“They smashed our window, ripped the plasma TVs off our walls, took all our jackets and rucksacks. I saw them go into Claire’s Accessories, break into NatWest, liberate our neighbours Toni & Guy of hair products. They carted off iPods from Currys, clothes from Debenhams, mobile phones from Carphone Warehouse. I was horrified.
“But Waterstone’s, directly opposite us was untouched. For the looters it was as if it did not exist.”
When Waterstone’s deputy manager Alicia Baiger arrived next day to a street littered with broken glass and debris, she was amazed to find that her shop – with its £199 Sony eReaders and three-for-two £10 paperbacks – had suffered “not even a scratch”.
What this free-for-all revealed better than any consumer behaviour poll could, is that many young people have no desire for books. Not even when they are apparently free.