A whole shop? For books? Part two

A brief digression and anecdote

Second hand bookshops are a different case. I have mentioned Gilberts in Winchester and the Book in Hand in Shaftesbury. In modern times, the Oxfam Book Shop in Winchester is up there. Just as with the sale of new books, the joy of second hand books is the unexpected surprise.

There is a subtle shift from ‘second hand’ to ‘antiquarian’. These used to be abundant in Bath. I once went innocently into one with a friend, to browse and possibly buy. We were asked by the proprietor, very brusquely, what we wanted, and were told in no uncertain terms that he didn’t want timewasters. I said the first thing that came into my head… which was that I was looking for anything by Robert Graves. The atmosphere thawed a little…. we were shown what I think was a first edition. I’m not a collector- I declined, saying I wasn’t obsessed. “Ah,” he said, softly. “Everybody should have an obsession.”

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