With almost a month’s delay I got back to my 2018 project. As I had to make up for March break in April I visited two bookshops, both on the same day, which was a good coincidence, as both are smaller compared to the previous ones (Hatchards and Daunt Books). I’ll start with Persephone Books, as this was the delayed one from March (you can find the whole master plan here).
It was the day of the London Marathon when I decided to venture there, so while I was changing at Cannon Street I caught a glimpse of the heroic runners (I’m not being sarcastic, I really think that running over 40 km is heroic, especially that I am not a runner myself, so I cannot even imagine how that is possible). Then a short walk from Holborn in a quiet part of Lambs Conduit Street we found the store. It had lovely plant pots at the front, very springy. The bookstore itself was a lot smaller than I expected, it is one room, and as you can see on the picture below, it is an ordered one. I liked the idea of all books being equal, no flashy covers, but each of the accompanied by a short blurb to give the reader an idea about it. Before I even came to the shop I knew at least one book I wanted to buy, so I looked around to see if anything else will tempt me. Finally I decided on two books, as I went to pay for them very kind bookseller told me they actually have an offer of 3 for £30, so I started looking for another book, she also noticed I didn’t pick up the matching bookmarks, so she also went to the shelves to pick them up, as we did this her dog sneakily tried to steal her lunch, but we noticed her attempts at the last moment and Ava Gardner had to do with a scratch behind an ear.
I must say I really liked the idea of bookmarks matching the patterns on the inside of the cover. It makes each book special, they are also beautifully published, no small print, the paper is beautifully thick and a pleasure to touch. It is obvious that the grey covers are a conscious design decision because so much thought has gone into all the other details.
Another thing I liked was the table with 50 books they wished they published. It was an interesting selection and a very nice gesture, showing that books can still be the most important part of publishing. All in all a great experience, even if the book selection in the store, for obvious reasons, is a bit skewed.
Here are the books I bought and the catalogue I got:
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day – Winifred Watson (r)- this is the book I planned to buy from the beginning, reading so many raving reviews and also having my eye on watching the movie with Frances McDormand.
The Persephone Book of Short Stories – I always say I don’t like reading short stories and yet every collection I read so far I liked, so I decided that now between books I’ll be reading one short story or one essay. The other reason for this is that I found that often if I read a collection of essays in one go they can become a bit monotonous, so it probably is better to read them one by one and on my shelves, I do have at least three essays collections and now also two short story collections.
A Writer’s Diary: Being Extracts from the Diary of Virginia Woolf – edited by Leonard Woolf – I still haven’t got my courage to attack the massive collection of Wool’s essays I got for Christmas two years ago, so I bought this book as a kind of encouragement, using the typically childish notion of being drawn to new toys, we’ll see if it works.