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Favourite bookshop?

For discussion about particular book sellers (brick-and-mortar bookstores, online book sellers, auction sites, swap sites, etc.)
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Miss Moppet
Location: North London

Postby Miss Moppet » Sun August 2nd, 2009, 12:29 am

"Chatterbox" wrote:Depends on where I am and what I'm looking for!

The old Foyles in London -- used to be frustrating but fun. Now it's boring and less complete. So I've switched allegiance to Hatchard's -- I can combine that with a trip to the giant Waterstone's on Piccadilly (where Simpson's used to be) and get most of what I want/need.

Goodness, yes, Foyle's is boring now. Looks like a giant WHSmith. There's another Foyle's in St Pancras station, and the prices are ridiculous, no discount on anything. Hatchard's is really a Waterstone's in disguise, but it does have some different stock. I have had to avoid the Piccadilly Waterstone's since I've been trying to borrow books instead of buying them, which speaks well for them I suppose - I can usually find what I want there. If I can't, I'll go to the Borders on New Oxford St.

Daunt's on the Marylebone Rd is a lovely bookshop, though I haven't been in for ages as I rarely go in that direction.

For foreign language books, I like the European Bookshop in Warwick St. I also go to Grant & Cutler in Marlborough St. Waterstone's in Manchester used to have an excellent French section, but not any more (it's still there, just not as good in my opinion).

Also, in Oxford, Blackwell's. (There is a Blackwell's in the Charing Cross Rd, but it's not the same and I never go in it). Sadly a lot of the second-hand bookshops in Oxford have disappeared. If I am buying second-hand, it's usually from Amazon Marketplace or abebooks.com. I got the most beautiful copy of Nancy Hale's The Prodigal Women, complete with 1940s book jacket, for a couple of dollars plus shipping from a Florida bookshop via abebooks.com - one of my best buys.

In Paris, I find there are lots of excellent small bookstores, although they aren't as comfortable with people browsing. I usually pay a visit to the big Virgin bookstore in the shopping centre under the Louvre pyramid, as they have quite a lot of stock.

Location: New York

Postby Chatterbox » Sun August 2nd, 2009, 12:50 am

Are you in Oxford, then, Miss Moppet? I'm in NY, but think London still has more choices in terms of bookstores, despite the Waterstone's takeover. Blackwells on Oxford St. is just like the Borders or the Books etc. -- yawn. Has been so long since I was in Oxford (obviously overdue!) that I can't remember Blackwells well, though I remember making some great finds there as a child.

In Paris -- I like the Fnac on Champs Elysees, close to the Etoile. There's a small bookstore that lets you browse to your heart's content on St. Sulpice, on the corner of the street by the church (opposite side of the street, in the direction of Odeon metro.) Can't remember the name, but it's on the corner and has big picture windows on both streets. Good HF collection there, too. There's a good little second hand store in the vicinity that has English books as well - just a hole in the wall. Left side of the street as you head uphill to the Luxembourg, maybe rue Monsieur le Prince?

Bookstore heaven = Hay on Wye... (see pic...)
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User avatar
Location: Seattle, WA

Postby Misfit » Sun August 2nd, 2009, 1:57 am

Me? As usual I go to the beat of a different drummer - I'm a library gal, although with a catalog like King County has I'm a pretty happy camper. If they don't have it I'll try for an ILL except for OOP's under $5 or so - I don't want to waste the county's resources for that. My favorite used sellers are Thriftbooks (they're local for me so the media mail comes pretty quick), Abe Books and Alibrus. Any service/billing issues (and those are rare) are promptly resolved.
At home with a good book and the cat...
...is the only place I want to be

Location: Arizona, USA

Postby Ash » Sun August 2nd, 2009, 4:50 am

Gack, I remember when we were in Picadilly; within a square mile there were three B/N or Borders (plus a Starbucks on every corner). I remember being on Charing Cross in the early 80s, the number of small bookstores galore.

In Paris, my DH drove me crazy saying 'look a bookstore! Oh, its all in French" ...erg. He made it up to me by leading the way to Shakespeare and Co.

User avatar
Miss Moppet
Location: North London

Postby Miss Moppet » Sun August 2nd, 2009, 3:36 pm

"Chatterbox" wrote:Are you in Oxford, then, Miss Moppet?

No, I'm in north London, but I studied in Oxford and go back from time to time to use the Bodleian, usually in vacation when it is quieter. I always like to wander through Blackwell's because they are one of the last bookshops to have some character. Also their basement is supposed to be the biggest room in a bookshop anywhere in the world.

Misfit, I have always belonged to libraries wherever I have lived and worked and just rejoined my local library. Some of my favourite HF was first discovered on library shelves: Kathleen Winsor's Forever Amber and Francoise Chandernagor's The King's Way are the two that particularly spring to mind.

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Currently reading: The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell & The Travelling Bag by Susan Hill
Preferred HF: Plantagenets, Victorian, crime
Location: Essex/London

Postby Madeleine » Sun August 2nd, 2009, 5:15 pm

Oh Hatchard's is a lovely store, worth visiting just for the gorgeous staircase! Haven't been there for years. Waterstone's main store in Dublin was also worth a visit, I actually got lost in there.
Currently reading "The Silent Companions" by Laura Purcell & The Travelling Bag by Susan Hill

User avatar
Interest in HF: I can't answer this in 100 characters. Sorry.
Favorite HF book: Checkmate, the final novel in the Lymond series
Preferred HF: Literary novels. Late medieval and Renaissance.
Location: Catskill, New York, USA

Postby Margaret » Sun August 2nd, 2009, 6:06 pm

Since I live in Portland, Oregon, Powell's City of Books is the obvious choice! I do buy the occasional book online when I can't get it anywhere else, but to me, there's no substitute for a bricks-and-mortar store where I can actually see what I'm buying. I like to read the back cover, take a look at the opening chapter, check to see that the book doesn't smell of perfume or cigarettes, and of course I'm a sucker for great cover art. Powell's covers a whole city block and has 3 or 4 floors filled with books new and second-hand, and it's like a vacation trip for me to roam around there. I do have to be careful not to go too often, because I always find something irresistible - usually a whole stack.
Browse over 5000 historical novel listings (probably well over 5000 by now, but I haven't re-counted lately) and over 700 reviews at www.HistoricalNovels.info

User avatar
MLE (Emily Cotton)
Interest in HF: started in childhood with the classics, which, IMHO are HF even if they were contemporary when written.
Favorite HF book: Prince of Foxes, by Samuel Shellabarger
Preferred HF: Currently prefer 1600 and earlier, but I'll read anything that keeps me turning the page.
Location: California Bay Area

Postby MLE (Emily Cotton) » Sun August 2nd, 2009, 6:43 pm

My favorite bookship was Goodenough Books, within walking distance of my house. The staff there knew me and what I liked, there were comfy chairs to sit in and coffee to drink, and a space for the kids in the back. I never minded the wait when they had to order books, because it meant another chance to come see my bookstore friends.

Unfortunately, Borders came to the next town over, and my local shop went out of business. It was nice that Borders was cheaper, and certainly their selection was bigger. The store was nicely laid out, if a bit of a drive. But about seven years ago I bought my first book online, and now that's the way I prefer to go.

If a local shop starts up again with the Espresso book machine, with a similar atmosphere to my old hangout and not too far a drive, that store will get my business. I'm expecting that to happen in two years or less, although I'd put even money that some savvy vendor like Starbucks will beat the clueless bookselling industry to it.


Postby gyrehead » Sun August 2nd, 2009, 7:06 pm

If a local shop starts up again with the Espresso book machine, with a similar atmosphere to my old hangout and not too far a drive, that store will get my business. I'm expecting that to happen in two years or less, although I'd put even money that some savvy vendor like Starbucks will beat the clueless bookselling industry to it.

Sadly too many of the brick and mortar stores are gone in the area I live. The closet is one that really is nothing but children's books and bestsellers; otherwise you have to special order. So I make a point of giving them a list of about four hardcover books a month or so to do my part. Unfortunately there is little discount on such a practice so cost makes it a bit prohibitive. No way I'm giving up the number of books I can possess. Sadly I am not that progressive.

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Location: London

Postby Leo62 » Sun August 2nd, 2009, 7:44 pm

I love dusty secondhand bookshops with piles of obscure stuff overflowing everywhere. There's one down the road from me in Greenwich called Halcyon Books, there was a great one I found in Westerham that was so tiny and so stuffed with books you could barely get in the door, and there was a great one at Pitlochry station, which, strangely, quite a few people on this forum have been into at one time or another.

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