Hundreds of Derry shoppers swamp street to grab free books after thousands are dumped in Bookworm skip
Hundreds of people including tourists swamped Londonderry city centre as they took advantage of a free book bonanza.
Around 100,000 new books were dumped outside a closed bookshop yesterday after the receiver ordered that the contents of the business be disposed of.
A skip was filled and emptied five times as book-lovers made off with armloads, boxes and in some cases car boots full of new tomes.
More people arrived as the news spread, with many people having heard on social networks about the free-for-all at the former Bookworm store.
Drivers double-parked as they flocked to the scene, causing traffic problems. Among those who were taking advantage of the opportunity was Caoimhe McNulty, an avid reader who estimated the costs of the books she had salvaged at almost £1,000.
She said: "I remember coming to Bookworm as a student for my course books so this is sad to see, but I am glad that the dozens of books I have gathered will not end up in a dump."
The books, valued at around £60,000, included academic publications, university coursework books, novels, sports books and plays, as well as professional publications for nurses, doctors, architects, quantity surveyors, solicitors and accountants.
As the crowds descended on Bishop Street many motorists double parked causing temporary traffic jams as they helped themselves to dozens of the books.
Pauline McLaughlin had her arms full of children's books which she was going to pass on to the library of her local school.
She said: "This is actually really sad. Why didn't they put a notice in the window a couple of weeks ago to say all this stock was going to be dumped.
"Any school would have been only too happy to arrange to come and collect books. Children are always being encouraged to read and respect books but this isn't setting a very good example."
John Doherty had a similar point of view. He said: "You have to ask what kind of society have we turned into when someone would rather spend £80 for a skip than arrange to give books away to charities or schools.
"There are talking books in the middle of that skip too – how many blind people would have benefited from them? I actually think this is a disgrace."
The biggest demand was for children's books, especially Shrek, Postman Pat and Noah's Ark.
Looking on as the skip was filled and refilled was Peter MacKenzie, the former joint owner of the Bookworm bookshop.
He said: "I opened the bookshop in 1978 and it was my life's work until I was declared bankrupt in 2012.
"The books were my assets which were seized. The building was also seized and now it has been for sale for the last two years with an asking price of £375,000.
"Four years ago the same building was valued at just over £2 million.
"It's heartbreaking to see what was once my life's work being dumped into a skip, but at least the books are being grabbed by members of the public and fair play to them.."