Barter Books, Alnwick, Northumberland

We decided to visit Alnwick (pronounced Annick) because it said in my AA Guide Book of Britain that it was worth a visit and as we weren’t far from it we decided to go. As we were driving in we noticed a sign for Barter Books and we did swither a bit before deciding to visit it because as my husband said – I’m not supposed to be buying any books because I have so many unread ones at the moment, and he isn’t any better.

In the end, we couldn’t resist it, especially when we saw that the shop is actually what was the Alnwick railway station building. I love these old buildings, in fact I’d like to live in one. Sadly the station was closed in 1968 – a victim of the scandalous rape of our once great railway system – by Dr Beeching.

The building is really big inside and does have an enormous amount of books so I thought it was going to be really difficult to not buy a load of books. That was before I saw the price tags on them. This is without doubt the most expensive bookshop that I have ever been in. According to their pricing policy, we aren’t only rich in literature but also monetarily. We have lots of the exact editions which they were selling for often eye-watering prices.

They didn’t mind us taking some photographs though and it is just as well that this is a back view of me, so you can’t see the incredulous look on my face.

Who would pay £16 for a Penguin vintage crime REPRINT ? The starting price for most books was £9.60. Remember The Chalet School series by Elinor M Brent-Dyer? Tatty hardback copies of them were priced at £26. I came home from school one day to discover that my mum had decided that I had grown out of my books and she had given them all away, so I don’t have any of them now, grrr.

Anyway it’s the first time in ages that we’ve managed to get out of a bookshop sans books.

As you can see, they have stuck with the railway theme with trains travelling around the shop above the top shelves, which is a nice touch. It also seems to be the place where they discovered that wartime poster ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ which is being reproduced all over the place now.

The trouble with me is that I think it’s quite obscene that books have a value other than their contents. I don’t know why really because I’m quite happy for other things to have a collectors value.

We recently discovered, quite by chance that one of our books has quite a high re-sale value and now I just worry about it getting damaged as it is pristine, so I won’t read it now, unless I buy a cheap new edition. It’s crazy.

Voltaire & Rousseau – a bookshop

We had a lovely day out in the west end of Glasgow yesterday. Even the weather was perfect, sunny and about 65 F/18C.

The west end is always a nostalgia trip for us as my husband was a student at Glasgow Uni for 7 years with me as the breadwinner for the last 3 of them.

But nowadays it means books, and as we hadn’t been to Voltaire & Rousseau for years we thought it was time we paid a visit. It isn’t the easiest place to get to and you really have to know that it is there as it is situated in Otago Lane, which is off Otago Street, about a 10 minute walk from Great Western Road.

As you can see it is a mixture of heaven and hell for book lovers. There are thousands of used/second-hand books and although they are divided into sections, the stock spills all over the place, making it quite difficult to navigate your way around them all. The proprietor doesn’t mind you taking photographs either.

I found it really frustrating that I couldn’t reach any of the lovely old leather bound classics, the books piled in front of those shelves blocked them all off. It’s amazing though because I do usually find something that I’ve been looking for there and I’m obviously not the only one as a young lad waved a book in front of my face excitedly telling me that he had found what he was looking for – a miracle he thought. It was Around the World in Eighty Days.

So if you are in Glasgow and you are into books take a stroll down Otago Lane and the nearby Thistle Books which is in Otago Street and is very different as everything is neat and organised, which is all very professional and as it should be, but somehow not as exciting an experience as Voltaire and Rousseau.