Friday, January 20, 2012

Hay-on-Wye, Sedbergh, Book Towns

It was a cold, bleak, and windy day in Hay-on-Wye

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I don't know if you can see the border between England and Wales on the map, but Hay-in-Wye lies just inside the Welsh border in the county of Powys (rhymes with Lois), Wales. Hay-on-Wye is world famous for its many bookstores. A person could spend days there and not exhaust its great supply of books. It seems that everyplace is a bookstore, including even the castle??

It was mid-March, so the bookstore was not stocked.

Photo Credit: Ian Haskins
The photo above must have been taken in high season. Look at the books! 
A castle AND a bookstore? What could be better! 

Photo Credit:
Trust between the Welsh and English has evidently improved since the 14th c.

In Sedbergh, Cumbria - another Book Town


What is a Book Town?

Well, it's a town, usually small and usually rural, which has brought together a number of bookshops and other businesses based on writing, reading, publishing and so on. In practice many of the shops will concentrate on selling second-hand books. There are thousands of book enthusiasts whose great joy is to find an out-of-print volume to add to their collections; for them a Book Town is a treasure chest just waiting to be opened. Book Towns have spread around the world from the first one, which was founded by Hay-on-Wye bookdealer Richard Booth in 1961. There are now over twenty towns throughout the World describing themselves as Book Towns or Book Villages. 

The Sedbergh booktown project was started after the 2001 Foot and Mouth Disease outbreak in order to encourage an increase in the number of visitors, whose enjoyment of the beautiful countryside around Sedbergh supports the functioning of vital town centre amenities. The company, Sedbergh Book Town, was set up in 2003 to develop a community of businesses involved in selling, writing, publishing and designing books and other publications. Sedbergh started with an excellent base to build upon as a Booktown, with a printer's finisher (book maker), writers and several book selling businesses already based in the town. Since then more bookshops have opened and, in May 2006, Sedbergh was officially recognised as England's Booktown when it was elected into the International Organisation of Book Towns. There are now three official Booktowns in the United Kingdom, Hay-on-Wye (where it all started) in Wales, Wigtown in Scotland and Sedbergh in England. 

And to think that when we were in Hawes, North Yorkshire, we were only 15 measly miles from Sedbergh and didn't even know about it. Oh well, there's always next time?

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Unknown said...

Oh my word, a book town? How did I never know this? Why am I not living there? Ok, now I have a new place to see before I die - thanks for the history lesson, Judy! Can't believe I did not know of this place before.

laurie said...

What a beautiful area!

Lois Christensen said...

That was too funny about the empty bookcase and where it was located! Need to show this post to my hubby as he loves books and bookstores! Great pictures! Thanks for sharing. Have a beautiful weekend!

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Wish I'd known about Sedbergh when I was in the North! In Cumbria! This is the first I've ever heard of book towns. Thanks for educating me, Judy! AND thank you for the "rhymes with Lois." I'm hopeless with Welsh. (I switched from Embedded comments to Popup, and it seems to have solved my problem of not being able to get comments on my blog from people with browsers other than Chrome! Please try it out.)

Terri @ A Creative Princess said...

I bet you could spend days there! How fun and what a fun name! Have a great weekend, Judy!

Anonymous said...

Wow, just---WOW! I could get lost, quite happily, in booktown for hours! Thank you for showing us this lovely place.

Have a nice weekend.

Ruth Kelly said...

I missed Hay-on-Wye while I was in the area. It is close to Dorstone and Garway Hill (where my Samuel Eames was raised). He was my 3g grandfather. Dorstone is where the Carvers lived - John Carver married Samuel's daughter. Loved your photos and story.

Marti said...

I would go broke visiting a book town. Enjoyed your armchair tour. Have a good day.

Kelli @ The Loss Cause said...

I so want to go there! Fun post, Judy!

Sunny Simple Life said...

How quaint and unusual to have the books all outside. They must have to rush and put them indoors if it starts to rain. Very beautiful scenery. Thanks for coming by my blog and for the nice words. Have a wonderful weekend.

Heide at ApronHistory said...

I can't beleive I have never heard of them before!! I think someone needs to start a Book Town in the USA!
Have to make a note of these, for when I finally get to England.

Kara at Petals to Picots said...

How neat! I learned something new today :)

Brenda Pruitt said...

Oh, I love, love books! Wish we had those here!

Robin said...

I love books, I could spend a whole day just looking from store to store. Of course, taking a break in a cafe to have a cream tea. Thanks Judy for sharing your lovely pictures.

Anonymous said...

Nice pictures Judy, what a cool book store and the castle in the back ground. Beautiful!
Have a lovely weekend!
Hugs x

Christina Kim said...

I WANT to go to this place, like, right NOW!:) I am one of the book enthusiasts you mentioned, and really, I could spend hours or even the whole day in a bookstore and not even know the time at all if someone does not nudge me!:p
A Book town, wow, it's really my treasure chest!!;)

Denise said...

I love the tours you take us on.

J_on_tour said...

Great thematic & fascinating post in which once again I learn something new. I have passed through Sedburgh twice in recent times albeit not in shop opening hours and in a friends car and still didn't realise that it was a book town.

Hay is an amazing but curious place that I had the privilege of visiting only once, it is not easy to access & requires a special trip. I must say, based on the books I saw at the Castle, you went at the best time !! I remember three bookshops that live long in the memory ...
1) The bookshop in your title photo for it's sheer variety and a one that is a joy to explore.
2) The old cinema that gave me the feeling that I had to pay to enter and was probably worth doing so with the real life adventure behind its doors waiting to be discovered. One of the largest amount of books I have seen with artificial corridors and walkways created on different levels to browse properly all of the collection.
3)Murder & Mayhem. A well decorated crime fiction bookshop. It is unusual to enter a room & see a staged crime scene with a painted white outline of where a body has been lying.

Wigtown in Scotland seems to be well advertised locally as a book town in the vast county of Dumfries & Galloway. However I couldn't do it justice trying to cover too much in the week that I was touring there back in 98.

I'm trying my best not to buy too many books at the moment until I've read more of the ones I have already bought ... & I did rather well last year !

BlakeHerz said...

As above give a nice Book review. It's really gorgeous look of photo books. Via the different photo it's create a beautiful Books.

photo books

Yenta Mary said...

If you haven't read it yet, you need to find "Sixpence House" by Paul Collins, about moving his family to that very town. Wonderful book ... :)

debbie bailey said...

I've always wanted to go to Hay-on-Wye. We made it to Wales but didn't get that far south. I did read a book about the man who started the book thing there. Can't remember the name of it just now, but it was good. I'd have to take an empty suitcase just to bring back all my finds!

Vee said...

Well, I don't imagine that this was what you meant by checking out the book mentioned a few days ago. Ha!


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