TV Trailers

Ken Spelman

Ken Spelman

Gentle start to the day as the train whisks me south along the glorious north-eastern coastline – all the old familiar sights.  I alight at York at mid-day and hasten through the rain to Ken Spelman’s on Micklegate.  Sorry to miss past-president, Peter Miller, who has just left for the weekend book-fair in Oxford, but chat happily away to Tony Fothergill, his partner and soon to be successor.  Tony is, of course, one of the driving forces behind the outstanding success of the York fair (see Going to the Races below) and I am very happy to have recruited him to inject the same kind of flair into the big ABA summer fair at Olympia.  He’s working hard with the rest of the Olympia team on that.

Tony Fothergill

Tony Fothergill

Pick out a few books – another Tennyson in a sweet contemporary binding – you can just see it in front of Tony in the picture.  Tony is awaiting, with perhaps just a touch of nerves, the arrival of a TV crew intent on filming a forthcoming instalment of the BBC’s Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is.

Paul Hayes

Paul Hayes

BBC and Sun antiques expert Paul Hayes is to present Tony with a book bought in France – and try to sell it to him at a vast profit.  From what Tony knows in advance this is rather likely to be an uphill battle, but let’s not rush to judgement.   The crew arrive just as I am settling up, and I have a quick chat to Paul.  Only too ready to agree with him that the survival of proper bookshops like this on into the twenty-first century is a boon and a blessing to us all.  Acres of books, rewardingly priced.  Treasure it, people of York.

Lucius Books

Lucius Books

Across to Fossgate – for once managing not to get lost in the meandering York streets – and to Lucius Books.   James Hallgate, young (certainly by book trade standards), energetic and ambitious, has put together a truly outstanding stock of mainly modern material.  He has a wide reputation for getting out and about to hunt down the material (he’s just off to Holland in search of more).

James Hallgate

James Hallgate

The smallish shop abounds with high-spots – and his new catalogue is mightily impressive.  No difficulty here in putting together a little collection of books I am very pleased to have – a nice first of Braine’s Room at the Top in the Minton dust-jacket (one of those 1950s novels which really has stood the test of time – try reading it again), a couple of Graham Greenes and some crime fiction, including a super scarce Gladys Mitchell.  Having a fine time.

Janette Ray

Janette Ray

Next to Janette Ray and her shop in a mediaeval building leaning up against the walls of St. Mary’s Abbey.   Janette’s another of the potent forces driving the York Fair – and one of the sharpest and most clear-sighted members of the current ABA Council.  Architecture, design and photography are her fields – and the design element shows in the look and feel of the shop, the look and feel  of her website, and hopefully the rebranding exercise she is currently undertaking for the look and feel of the ABA.  She apologises for the shop being in disarray – a major reorganisation is taking place with piles of books moving from floor to floor – but it all looks perfectly orderly and under control to me.

Janette Ray

Janette Ray

She introduces me to her Fridays-only assistant, Amy.  Always fascinated in the other lives of these almost invariably interesting characters who help out in bookshops part-time, I ask Amy what she does in real life.  Turns out that she is an artist – but not just that, hers are the sketches gracing the current BBC serialisation of Sebastian Faulks’ Birdsong .  Whenever the hero produces his sketchbook and we see a drawing of Clemence Poesy, Joseph Mawle or dead soldiers – that’s Amy McKay’s work (link to the right in the blogroll).  Do try and watch tonight.  She also tells me that she may be working on something similar with the great Stephen Poliakoff in the near future – how exciting is that?

All so interesting, I’ve almost forgotten to look at the books – but that’s soon remedied.  Another little group bought.  The cheque-book has now literally coughed and died.  The one I gave to James Hallgate was the last in the book.  Have to give Janette a personal cheque – but by this time there is almost certainly more in that account than in the business account.  Train home to recuperate and await the parcels.

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 introduced in 1997, 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 and at Gresham College. He teaches annually at the London Rare Books School and also organises the monthly Book Collecting Seminars at Senate House, University of London. 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”. A major essay on the same subject also appeared 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”. More recently, he 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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One Response to TV Trailers

  1. Janette Ray says:

    How nice of you to say so many nice things about us all in York. Now you just need to look at the lovely new website for the York National Book Fair – wwww.yorkbookfair.com. it is launched today and of course all three of us you mention, as having shops in York, have a hand in that.

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