Bookstore Sells Book after 27 Years. Their Tweet Goes Viral.

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Bookstores, those that have managed to stay in business, gamble on the books they but. Some of them don’t sell. Many bookstores dump stock that doesn’t sell. They sell to buyers who specialize in selling books nobody wants, for next to nothing. Others, though, like the book at the center of this story, stay on the shelves for decades.

The Broadhursts Bookshop in England had one children’s book on the shelf for 27 years. It was a biography of William the Conqueror that went on sale in 1991.

“I have just sold a book that we have had in stock since May 1991,” the Broadhurst’s Bookshop tweeted. “We always knew its day would come.”

Joanne Ball, the employee who sold the book, spoke to NPR. She said she sold the book to an “older gentleman who was buying several books on the Norman Conquest of Britain for his grandson.”

The response was almost immediate.

“The book held its breath. It had hoped so often, only to have that hope crushed. Hands lifted it from the shelf, wrapped it warmly in paper. As the door closed on its past life, the book heard the soft cheers of its shelfmates.”

That bio may still be for sale.

The sale of the even older book has been a bit of lighthearted news for a country that is embroiled in political debate surrounding leaving the European Union.

“I know it’s a little soon, but how are you going to replace William the Conqueror on the shelf?”

Others began sharing their stories of selling, and even buying antiquated volumes.

Going to a better place is debatable. Not all of the books that leave the shop get read.

“You know when people go to dog shelters and say I want to take home the dog who has been here longest. I’m going to do this in bookstores. ‘Can you point me to the book you’ve had here the longest?’ That will be some random book collection!”

“I will liberate these books!”

Liberate? The internet liberated books. The rest of the volumes, bound as they are, are just the last vestige of a dying breed.

Some of the tweeters responding to the sale were reminded of this old commercial. If you want to know just how far we’ve come, this commercial pretty much sums it up. First, it’s a commercial. For the Yellow Pages, no less.