Review of small press and independent books.
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I know this thread isn't really intended for antiquarian bookshops, but I think I want to make an exception for Unsworth's Booksellers. One of my favourite places for browsing is Cecil Court; a little street off Charing Cross Road full of antiquarian bookshops, print shops, map shops, arty shops, etc. I was there the other day outside an antiquarian print shop, which shall remain nameless (because I can't remember its name) leafing through their outdoor display of slightly tatty 'genuine original prints' carefully ripped out of old books and put into placky bags with outrageous prices on them, when the proprietor came out of the shop and told me in no uncertain terms that I must use TWO hands, not one, when examining her wares, as otherwise I would damage them. This despite the fact that I was leaning on a walking stick and holding a shopping bag so didn't have the requisite number of hands to spare. I shrugged and walked away.
A few doors down, on the other side, I came across another shop with some cheerful cardboard boxes outside claiming that any book thus displayed could be mine for just one pound. One pound? That's less than charity shop prices. I was intrigued. What tat could they be trying to flog? Madame Bovary. Poetry by Verlaine. Drama by Victor Hugo. Hardly tat. As I'm learning French at the moment, I picked out four choice volumes and popped inside, where I was served by a charming and courteous young man.
I'll definitely be going back there, but as regards the print shop... I mean, how hard can it be to be nice? How did the lady with the antipathy towards one-handed customers not understand that if you're nice you might actually make a sale? The young man in Unsworth's had it right. I know most of his stock will be way beyond my price range, so I'm never going to make him a profit, but I'd like to thank him for making my few minutes in his bookshop so pleasant. Giving his shop a plug here is the least I can do.