I was walking back toward the car when something about Hay-on-Wye Booksellers caught my eye, it may have been the sunny white door and windows, causing me to veer in even though I was short on time. The store is a rabbit warren of rooms and passages on at least two floors (maybe more, I was mindlessly meandering). With books stacked everywhere, I was curious what was around every corner and happily lost within this literary maze. In fact, more than once I wondered if I had wandered into a different store, but there was an energizer bunny of employee that was constantly bustling from one section to another with stacks of books in her arms. I figured I’d use her as the proverbial crumbs to lead me out to the street again.
One large room was full of art books, logical since art is one of the store’s stated areas of specialty (along with design, architecture, history, military, theology and nature). I think every book Phadion ever published was represented, so many that when I walked past the Phadion store in London I didn’t go in, I felt like I’d seen its entire publishing history. I found old exhibition catalogues for a fraction of the cost of what I’m paying now, there seemed to be some real art book deals in addition to great variety.
Upstairs I found stacks books of essays and letters and felt like I tripped over the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. What better to read traveling through England than the essays of Charles Lamb? The books weren’t arranged in any sort of alphabetical order, so I sat down and worked through the piles winnowing out four different versions of his essays. I ended up with a 1921 Collins’ Clear-Type Press edition of The Essays of Elia with original engravings. It’s the engravings that attracted me, Lamb lived in a Read the rest of this entry »