BOOKS have always represented good news for me. As a primary school child a positive report from a form teacher was rewarded with a bright, shiny new book from the school’s pop-up bookshop for “star” pupils.

There was only one time I didn’t receive a book. It was when I whacked Patrick Jones in the face with my pump bag and gave him a black eye. There was a potential second time involving a two-fingered salute ordered by my Svengali elder sister, but we won’t go into that.

The trauma of not receiving my “good behaviour” prize stayed with me for a long time, but that early experience taught me to respect books, to never strain their spines, use them as drinks coasters, or turn down their pages. That’s probably why I have a room filled floor-to-ceiling with tomes I’ll never read again, but can’t bear to throw away.

I still shudder when I recall the time I took my 95-year-old granny to the library to discover that her “system” for remembering if she’d read a book was to write her initials and the date on the last page. The whole of the large print romance section had been defaced by Lucy Cooke’s graffiti. She only stopped when I threatened to shop her to the library police. Which brings me to the opening of Blackburn’s first bookstore in almost 10 years.

Family-owned Seed and Gabbutt, which became Bookland, closed its doors in 2004, so understandably Jack Straw MP, designer Wayne Hemingway, the town’s movers and shakers and Harry Potter fans are incredibly excited about it.

The opening of Waterstones in The Mall represents a return to culture. It is the green shoots of a new and, hopefully, more prosperous era. Like the bright, shiny “good behaviour” book it is the first reward for a faded Cathedral town working unstintingly to restore its former glory. Undoubtedly, it is appreciated by the good parents who read to their kids at bedtime, the students, the academics, the escapists, the old folk and the Kindle-phobes.

But one wonders if respect for the humble paper book still exists in some circles after a colleague reports seeing four young people in the new store leafing through books with greasy fingers whilst stuffing their faces with pizza. Would they do that in a clothes shop? I suspect not.

It’s taken 10 years to lure a bookstore back in to Blackburn, so let’s turn over a new leaf and show Waterstones that you can’t always judge a book by a few unwieldly sentences.