Thirty-six years after buying ‘Uncle Spike’s book exchange’, George Yates still firmly believes that books are the best way of imparting knowledge and skills to children and adults alike.
Stocked with piles of books reaching the ceilings, ‘Uncle Spike’s book exchange’ has grown over the years and remains a popular spot for bookworms.
Situated at the corner of Tal and Garten streets, Uncle Spike’s book exchange is your one stop bookstore for all types of book categories.
Readers can buy books and exchange them for other books should they wish to do so. Readers can also take books that were not bought at Uncle Spike’s book exchange and exchange them.
“We don’t take all books. We don’t take books that are damaged or books that people don’t read anymore. We take books that we can use,” said George. There are different prices for the books at Uncle Spike’s book exchange.
“Before I bought this shop I was a big customer of this shop. I have been reading all my life, in fact reading has been part of my upbringing. I would rather read a book than read electronic books,” said George.
New Era Weekend spoke to Yates and his son, Clifford, who is also the co-owner of the bookshop, on the country’s reading culture and how technology has affected it.
“Children today would rather sit with a cellphone, TV games and iPads which is a big pity because your brain isn’t educated the same by those methods as compared to books,” said George.
George said that his shop has expanded in size over the years. This is despite the fact that Uncle Spike’s book exchange was owned by several people before he eventually bought it. Its first owner Spike Bouser ‘Uncle Spike’ was a book lover himself.
Although many people read as a pass time, George said that the reading habits have changed with the emergence of technology.
“Back in the day when the school closed, the shop was full of school children every morning. Today it’s not like that although children’s books are still very popular,” said George.
“We are still a reading nation although people do not read as much as they used to in the past. Luckily, there are still a lot of people who love to read, younger kids are asked to read at school, Clifford added. Clifford further said that the shop has not changed much as “we try to stay true to what books are. Books are very ancient and we try to stick to the old times,” said Clifford.
George added that “more and more brown and black people come to read. That’s a growing reading community, which is nice to see. Self-help books are popular with the black population.”
Asked on how he fell in love with books, Clifford said: “I never used to read when I was younger. I started reading when I was in Grade 11 and I have never stopped. My world has been enriched and now I read different types of books and it enriches my life and my mind”.
The books sold at Uncle Spike’s book exchange are mainly English, Afrikaans and German as well as some European languages.