Smelling a new book, finding a vintage copy of a novel, and browsing through all the different sections in Chapters bookstore is among the things customers love most about visiting the iconic Dublin shop.
After 40 years in business, the largest independent bookshop in Ireland will close its doors today.
Since announcing its closure in October, Chapters has held a massive sale with all books being just one-third of their sticker price, which were usually discounted already.
Book lovers filled their arms in the Parnell Street shop today as they said farewell to the store while also taking advantage of the sale which spanned across all sections including bestsellers, non-fiction, and secondhand books.
Lillian Flynn from Dún Laoghaire said she has very fond memories of getting lost in books in the store over the years and has been in six times since it announced its closure in October.
“I always went to Chapters back when it was in Abbey Street, and then when it came here myself and my husband would spend a few hours inside,” she said.
"He would go off and we would meet then, but it is very very sad to see it go.
"It’s absolutely [about the experience], you could get lost in there. There are so many different areas and different titles of books, it was just great.
“It’s like an institution so it’s just so sad. I mostly got books for my grandchildren today. I’ve been in here probably six times [since the closure was announced].
"My husband laughed and said to me today: ‘You’re not going back in are you!’”
Store manager Sara Phelan said today was a “really big moment” for both staff and customers, and that there’s no doubt they were badly hit as a result of the pandemic.
“We never built an online platform so we were doing phone sales and then being a city centre location with so many offices closed, footfall has been way down and it’s had a really big impact on us,” she said.
“There were a number of contributing factors [to having to close] and that’s definitely one of them, which is impossible to ignore.”
Ms Phelan said all the staff have been blown away by the outpouring of love that the shop has received since announcing the closure.
“It’s a really big moment for everybody. Since we announced it back in October the response has been absolutely overwhelming in a really good way,” she said.
"We have been blown away by the response. We knew how great a store Chapters was but I don’t think we realised how deeply it would hit home with people.
"We had generations of families coming in who had shopped in our other locations previously and they’re still shopping here with their children and grandchildren, which is incredible.”
Michael Byrne from Knocklyon in Dublin was delighted to score two full bags of books for just €30 today, but said as a regular customer he’s very sad to see the shop close.
"I got two bags of books today for €30 and if it wasn’t reduced it would’ve been €90,” he said.
"I would have come here a lot. It’s sad as this is one of the biggest book stores in Dublin and it has the big upstairs where all secondhand books are, it was full of them.”
Joeanne McFerran travelled from Kells, Co Meath, to visit the bookshop for the last time.
"It’s quite emotional, there are very few bookshops now that you can actually go into and have a good browse and rummage through the books. It’s all kind of online so it’s sad that it’s the one last one that you can have a browse through,” she said.
"It’s nice to look at the cover and have a wee glance at the first page and then you put it in the basket and head to the checkout, it’s not the same online.
"I really love books and it’s that feeling of it in your hand. It’s not even just the look of it, it’s the feel of it.”
Ms McFerran said her house is full of books and in particular she loves collecting vintage novels, something that most bookshops don’t offer.
She has passed on her love of reading to her children and said she thinks it’s so important to bring them to bookshops and libraries to encourage their interest in books.
"Our house is very literary. It’s definitely something that has been passed on as they enjoy it too. The library and bookshops are a staple day out for our family,” she said.