“Fantasy Centre” in Holloway Road, North London, has closed for the last time. I had heard in May that this was due to happen because of a combination of the lease expiring and the partners being of retirement age.

So the weekend just gone I paid a last visit, primarily to plug some of the gaps in my SF magazine collection. I picked up some bargains too, digest sized publications were £1 each and pulps were selling for half price. Pity I hadn’t won a medium prize on the lottery; I could easily have loaded a van but I had to pick and choose. I was pleased with the bargains of course but the price includes the loss of an easy to reach vendor of old SF. I can still buy on the internet of course but the problem with web purchases is that you don’t discover anything new. At my previous visit to “Fantasy Centre” I had discovered a magazine called Argos published in 1988 of which I had no previous knowledge. In other shops browsing has led me to novels previously unknown to me.

The second hand book market seems to be closing down. In years gone by there were two branches of the “Popular Books Centre” chain not far from where I lived. Both have now gone which is a shame as I found many books and magazines there. In central London, “Murder One” has moved to smaller premises and lost its SF section.

SF can still be bought, of course, there is “Forbidden Planet” and chains such as “Waterstones” still have their SF sections but the sources of second hand SF seem to be drying up. I can and do buy over the web but the experience of browsind and discovery is gone.

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