An interview with Bibliophile Ltd
Biblio checks in with Bibliophile Ltd to learn more about their book business, collecting interests and more! To view and shop their inventory, click here.
When did you get started in bookselling?
1985 after graduating from London University with an Honours Degree in Spanish, I walked along London's famous Charing Cross Road not now as a poor student but as a poor reader in search of books. My first job was in nearby St. Martin's Lane Bookshop just off Trafalgar Square.I was headhunted and I joined Head Office at Booksmith Wholesale (remainders) where I set up and worked the stand at Frankfurt Book Fair.
What drew you to bookselling?
My mother Aileen Armitage is an author of 35 novels despite being blind. She had a copy of the newspaper catalogue "Bibliophile" in her study one day and I decided that's what I wanted to write for. I loved how they presented their book selections and their humour.
Did you have any mentors in becoming a bookseller?
Fred Bass of Strand Bookstore who used to own my company (and now regrets selling his half share) when I bought the business in 1991. He remains a great friend and confidant. My late boss, Bill Smith Esq, owner of Booksmith chain of bargain shops. Robin Moody of Daedalus Books USA. Donald Murray (now lost to us) of Ramboro Books UK.
What are your specialties as a dealer?
Bargain books over a wide and eclectic range of interests, but always the best quality.
What's the most amazing book you've ever sold?
The Gutenberg Bible facsimile reprint
What is your favorite part of being a bookseller?
Handling and reviewing over 100 books a month. Having a large budget to spend on selecting the best titles for our membership. The variety of books dreamed up by clever authors and published to high standards to last for generations and bring fulfilment and stretch the imagination of readers.
Do you have an open storefront or have you in the past?
Yes, our 7000 square foot warehouse is open to the public weekdays 8.30 - 5pm and we have had to prise readers out of the corners. Exhibited at the Ideal Home Show Exhibited at Buckingham Palace gardens for the Queen's Coronation Festival 2013 2015 will exhibit at St James's Palace London as a Royal Warrant Holder for bookselling.
If so, do/did you have any bookstore pets?
CATS! We have signed our editorial for 30 years (Bill) Annie and the Team (plus cats) We are joined now by my whippet Lottie. Our website showcases our staff's cats, customer cats and other pets. See Kitty Korner.
What is the funniest / strangest / scariest thing that ever happened in your store?
After getting knocked over by a bicycle (ouch!) taking the banking across Charing Cross Road, seeing how kind the then Bibliophile Editor was to me, and deciding I wanted her job. I got it when she retired 2 years later!
What is your favorite bookshop (other than your own)?
Definitely Strand Bookstore NY.
What do you personally like to read? Collect?
What's your favorite book you personally own? Would you sell it, if the price were right?
Surimono bound in golden silk, outsize even for my bookcases. Would never sell.
What one book would you buy if price were no object?
The Gutenberg Bible, the one I handled at Eton College library last month, 44 lines and rubicons (red scribbles) by the scribe, making it priceless and unique.
If you were stranded on a desert island and could bring three books, what would they be?
The Bible Complete Works of Shakespeare Pride and Prejudice