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My Kingdom of Books Hardcover – 20 May 1999

4.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Y Lolfa Cyf; 1st Impression edition (20 May 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0862434955
  • ISBN-13: 978-0862434953
  • Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 3.6 x 21.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 931,597 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


If you love life, eccentrics and second-hand books, this book is for you. Even if you don't, buy it anyway. -- Ian Skidmore, Daily Post

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Format: Hardcover
The first time I went to Hay, I went into the Wheatsheaf for a quiet pint. It was almost deserted, except for a man holding forth to the captive barman as if he owned the place. Discreet enquiry revealed that this was Richard Booth, “the King of Hay”, so my impression was roughly correct.

Booth would probably concede that he is an abrasive personality with a planet-sized ego (no disadvantage for success in business), and this autobiography is an entertaining romp through the roller-coaster of his first 40 years in the book trade. The book was published shortly after his serious illness, and much has changed in Hay since then; Booth no longer owns the Castle or his flagship bookshop (though it still bears his name, it now has an upmarket café in its courtyard), and ebooks and Internet trading have caused a few bookshops to close.

Booth devotes plenty of space to his main hobbyhorses: fighting bureaucracy and big business, his long-running feud with rival Leon Morelli, and his antipathy to the Hay Festival (though he grudgingly concedes that the Festival isn’t all bad). He also goes into detail about his many trips to the USA to reap rich benefits from the downscaling and closure of many academic libraries, and his campaign to establish other booktowns in the rest of the UK and in Europe (in which activity he, not surprisingly, usually shows better judgment than the locals...).

Booth has a soft spot for other eccentrics, in which Hay once abounded (I doubt this applies now; last time I went it had been greatly yuppified); one of many he mentions is Lucy, the celebrated landlady of the Three Tuns; I went there during her reign, and it was a pub that time had passed by, but it is now a gastropub.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x9a3ea06c) out of 5 stars 1 review
HASH(0x9869c5a0) out of 5 stars Autobiography of man who MADE Hay-on-Wye 5 Feb. 2015
By Kat - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Book arrived in super condition. Can't wait to read it. I hope I make it to Hay-on-Wye one day and meet Richard Booth--what a character. Should be a great autobiography.
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