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The Bookshops Of Hay-On-Wye

Hay-on-Wye is called the town of books for good reason – there are more bookshops than you can possibly visit unless you don’t intend on browsing and haven’t come for the festival. Considering the amount of choice there is, it makes sense to go in with a plan. During my downtime at last year’s festival, I had a mooch around the streets to see what was on offer. Here are five of the best stores:

A photograph of The Addyman Annexe

The Addyman Annexe: 27 Castle Street
Monday – Saturday: 10:00-17:30
Sunday: 10:30-17:30

There are two Addyman locations; this is the largest and stands on the main street you walk down from the festival site. The Annexe sells a lot of literary-related items; last year Taffywood Books mugs jostled for space on a windowsill with old orange Penguin Classics. A special festival section for children’s books took a little space. The shop sells a good range of both new and second hand books and is vibrant in its colour. Don’t miss the upper floor; the stairs are against the wall by the tall yellow shelves in the back room.

A photograph of Broad Street Book Centre

Broad Street Book Centre: 6 Broad Street
Open all week: 10:30-17:00

Situated across the street and a little further down the road from The Granary (a cafe you will come most definitely come across or hear about), is the Broad Street Book Centre. A fantastic rabbit warren of a store, just when you think you’ve reached the end it goes on further, with more books than you’d ever have thought possible from outside. The books are solely second hand and the variety spans all ages and categories, older books and new, from fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. Stacked away in a tiny space towards the back is a pretty marvelous selection of very old books, some popular selections, others you may never have heard of but want to buy nonetheless.

A photograph of Murder And Mayhem

Murder And Mayhem: 5 Lion Street
Monday-Saturday: 10:30-17:30
Open some Sundays

This shop does what it says on the tin, except for the murder part! Whilst other shops have books on various surfaces, Murder And Mayhem takes it a literal step further with piles of glorious Allison & Busby mystery classics sat against the walls of the stairs. It’s worth the careful journey north as the room at the top is rather beautiful in its extreme bookish messiness. Back on the ground floor and the room you first enter into is full of wonderful publisher-specific piles. A great many Penguin Classics fight for space along the left wall, hoping you won’t miss them in this unusual arrangement where there are so many more books equally capable of grabbing the collector’s attention.

A photograph of The Poetry Bookshop

The Poetry Bookshop: The Pavement, Lion Street
Monday-Saturday: 11:00-17:00
Open some Sundays from 12:00

At the end of a tiny street away from the hustle and bustle of the town (at least when the festival is on) sits The Poetry Bookshop, in a detached building. A fair space, there are lots of shelves here and everything is carefully categorised. There are also lots of biographies of poets, compilations of literary magazines content, and books full of interviews. A selection of second-hand fiction rounds it off.

A photograph of Richard Booth's

Richard Booth’s: 44 Lion Street
Monday-Saturday: 9:30-17:30
Sunday: 10:30-17:00
Cafe
Tuesday-Saturday: 9:30-4:30
Sunday: 10:30-3:30
Last orders are 30 minutes before closing

Richard Booth’s is one you can’t miss: nestled between others in its terrace, the exterior nevertheless stands out, its design ensuring your interest. At its entrance – very grand, all wood and lovely low ceilings, is the fiction, with a lot of books by authors in attendance at the festival. Awesome stationary – on this occasion sheets of wrapping paper with recipes printed on them – sat beside the counter. It’s worth walking on towards the back – a stunning staircase runs from the centre of the floor up to the new level where a large number of shelves are arranged much like a library. The selection is extensive. Sofas at the end of the main aisle, with plenty of light from the back and above in the roof make for an atmosphere place to read your new purchases. Crime books can be found in the basement.

In addition to a bookshop, Richard Booth’s own a cinema on Brook Street that shows a range of films – many based on books (the new adaptation of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is currently one of those on offer. I’m so glad they kept the full title!)

When I first walked round the bookshops and took my notes, I envisaged writing about them soon afterwards, partly because of the current climate of closures. I wasn’t able to write in time and, deciding to keep it back until the festival tents were up once again, I am delighted to say that all of the shops I visited – ten in total – are still there. Long may it remain the case.

 
 

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