And here I am back in my alternate history where Germany won the war... But this time it's more of a vehicle, and I'm not sure it was the right one. I'm not sure when exactly modern bookshops, as we know them, came into being. With the fierce commerciality and warring for space. And that is what I'm talking about here. So whether Master Shakespeare would really have experienced bookshops like this I don't know.
It's something I keep coming back to. There is something a little like Jormungandr in modern retailing, we fill the shelves so people can take the books off the shelves so we can fill them again. In total we have more books in stock and on order then can fit on the shelves because we allow for ordering time and empty space is wasted space. It is a constant fight to make sure we have enough (and the right) things in stock so that people will buy them so that we can get more in so that people will buy those...
When the new Dan Brown comes out he expands from half a shelf to a shelf and a half as interest in his backlist revives, while other authors' shelf space shrinks. Interest in an author or a genre waxes and wanes. Already growing in popularity, the boost from Twilight thrust paranormal romance (or 'Dark Fantasy' as you will find it branded in Waterstones) into enough commercial significance that it now has its own section. It sells better than traditional horror. Now there's a scary thought...
My point is, bookshops do breath and stretch and twitch. They are alive.
I was taught there are seven signs that define an organism as living. I could take my Hammer of Metaphorical Excess and, with only a little bludgeoning, show that bookshops display them all.