Secret #1 The first bookshop uncovered
Tour after tour, people tell me this is their favourite bookshop visit.
Bluestocking Books tours bring people into London bookshops they might not enter on their own - today let me take you over the threshold of Bryars & Bryars.
The shop, run by Tim and Pinda Bryars, was one of the first I chose for my tours - the selection of books and maps and consistent staffing by the knowledgeable and friendly owner are unique.
A visit to Bryars & Bryars is the best introduction to antiquarian books, with an easy atmosphere that dispels notions that may keep book lovers from venturing into rare book shops.
Everyone is welcome. No appointment or introduction required, just pop in. If you enjoy books or maps you're in the right place.
Prices are set, written down, and start around £20. You won't have to ask or haggle. If you're looking for an affordable gift just share your budget and Tim will pull something off the shelf.
You may touch. Bryars & Bryars uses mylar (the plastic jacketing - crinkle crinkle) only for the most fragile, so you can enjoy the paper, cloth or leather bindings of the books.
Tim is a normal human, perhaps with an extra large brain, definitely with an XL beard. He is not fusty or a Bernard Black.
If a special book casts its spell on you, rest assured it is the real deal! The copy of Peter & Wendy (Peter Pan) by J. M. Barrie in photos is over 100 years old, with an original gold and green paper jacket that, when removed, reveals fresh white and green.
Tim is a member of the Antiquarian Booksellers' Association; everything in the shop is thoroughly researched and catalogued. While my tour visited last week, Bryars & Bryars sold a 1640 map of the Danube...
Bryars & Bryars is 2 minutes from Leicester Square Station. Until the next tour, happy reading and exploring!
By sharing a few bookshop secrets on this blog I hope the unique bookshops of London will be more visited by book buyers.