Never been here before – and frankly somewhere I have long had nightmares about. A whole shop or office full of unsold books is one thing – a whole town? Which outer circle of the damned is that? How many books? How many bookshops?

Old Cinema

Books in the open air at Hay

I suppose what I really need is Jane the sat-navigator to pilot me round and tell me what to buy. Perhaps we should be developing an ABA book-nav for the purpose.

Began at Francis Edwards. A cheery welcome, a cup of coffee and  chat with Greg and Debs. Bought some books – two I’d never seen before. Just the thing to tickle a jaded palette. Next door to the Ardens – another friendly welcome. And down Castle Street to Sally Forwood of Mostlymaps.

Sally Forwood

Sally Forwood of Mostlymaps

Apologised in person for the delayed appearance of “British Map Engravers”, but it has now gone to press and will be back and bound by the end of the month. Boz Books – two more books I’d never seen before, leavened with some light gossip and mild rumour. And so on, round, and round, the town.

Rather surprised at some booksellers who simply don’t seem to care about their books at all. Why sell books if you don’t like them? But that was certainly not the case at the Poetry Bookshop. Definitely a favourite. Slightly bizarre interlude there when BBC Cornwall came through on my mobile wanting to speak about a spate of seemingly professional thefts from the charity bookshops of Truro. Want me to pontificate at some unearthly hour well before dawn on Monday. Don’t hold breath.

Richard Booth

Richard Booth at Hay-on-Wye

Finished the afternoon with David Rees (Kestrel Books) and his immaculate stock of modern firsts. And adjourned for tea with The First Lady – or would have done if the award-winning tea-rooms were actually open at teatime. No awards from us – and just give the others back. Teatime is four o’clock – is it not? Not open at four – not a tea-room.

About Laurence Worms - Ash Rare Books

Laurence Worms has owned and run Ash Rare Books since 1971. He represented the antiquarian book trade on the (British) National Book Committee from 1993 to 2002 and has been six times an elected member of the Council of the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association. He was largely responsible for drafting the Association’s Code of Good Practice first introduced in 1997 (and its recent update), served as Honorary Secretary of the Association from 1998 to 2001 and as President from 2011 to 2013. He is a former member of the Council of the Bibliographical Society and continues to serve on the Council of the London Topographical Society. He writes and lectures on various aspects of the history of the book and map trades, and has lectured at the universities of Cambridge, London, Reading and Sheffield, as well as at the Bibliographical Society, the Royal Geographical Society, the Warburg Institute, the National Library of Scotland and at Gresham College and Stationers' Hall. Published work includes the compilation of fourteen ‘lives’ for the “Oxford Dictionary of National Biography”, a number of articles for “The Oxford Companion to the Book” and the chapter on early English maps and atlases for the fourth volume of “The Cambridge History of the Book in Britain”. Essays on the British map trade are also appearing in “The History of Cartography” published by the University of Chicago Press. His long-awaited “British Map Engravers”, co-written with Ashley Baynton-Williams, was published to critical acclaim in 2011. He also contributed the numerous biographical notes to Peter Barber’s hugely successful “London : A History in Maps”, co-published by the British Library and the London Topographical Society in 2012.
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