The Bookseller’s Tale
A lively cultural history of the book from a charmingly idiosyncratic bookseller
‘The right book has a neverendingness, and so does the right bookshop.’
This is the curious story of our long love affair with books. Whether comfort reads or cult novels, we carry them with us, inhale the smell of their pages, scrawl in their margins, and protect them from book thieves and bathwater. Despite the many enemies of reading – from poverty to prejudice, from the Spanish Inquisition to Orwellian regimes – its power has endured across centuries.
This is partly thanks to people like Martin Latham, the longest-serving Waterstones manager (‘It’s not a career, it’s a philosophic path’). In A Bookseller’s Tale, Martin uncovers the history of our collective book-obsession, and introduces us to the Canterbury bookshop that has been his working home for three decades, complete at various points with two rocking horses, a hammock for staff naps and an excavated Roman bath-house floor.
Along the way, we encounter itinerant book pedlars, smugglers, obsessive collectors, librarians, miners, Rabelaisian monks and the Rolling Stones. Part cultural history, part literary love letter and part reluctant memoir, this is the tale of one bookseller and many, many books.