Thursday, May 03, 2007

The Independent, a British newspaper, has an article titled The Complete Guide to Booktowns. It talks mainly about Hay-on-Wye in Wales - a former market town with 1500 people and more than 40 used bookstores. My wife (who is also a librarian) and I visited Hay several years ago. We loved it, although we spent three days there and didn't even get to half of the stores.

In the early 1960s, a man named Richard Booth bought the burned out castle in the town center and opened a bookshop. He was trying to revive the rural economy and encouraged other booksellers to open shops there, too. Booth was quite a character; in one publicity stunt he declared that Hay had seceded from Britain, then crowned himself King and made his horse Prime Minister.

Paul Collins has written a wonderful book, titled Six Pence House, about the time he worked for Booth while trying to find a suitable place to live. For more strange but true stories about Wales, I recommend The Bank Manager and the Holy Grail, by Byron Rogers.

You can see some of my photos from Wales, including Booth's castle and other bookshops on my Yahoo photos page.


Post a Comment

<< Home