9c Margarets Bldgs, Bath
Located up a quaint and often unnoticed little
street between the Circus and the Crescent.
A number of quirky and interesting shops
lay there, including a
antique shop and other shops and
galleries that come and go almost monthly.
There is one old shop that seems to stick,
guarding the end of the street on the corner,
spilling out its contents on a dry day on
bowing, portable shelves, tempting a buyer in.
Bath Old Books has somehow survived the
recent bookshop cull of modern society –
a fact I lament in Obituary – and
remains a testament to how bookshops must
have existed back in Bath’s heyday. The shop
is small and crowded with books from floor
to ceiling. The first room proffers arts and crafts
and other rare volumes: here I found an
Andrew Lang (which, surprisingly, I didn’t buy)
and here a rare edition of Alice in Wonderland.
Tunnel down twisting stairs and you’ll unearth more books, glowing gems of them all standing upright in higgledy-piggledy splendour. There are Victorian books and bindings that almost tempt you to buy if for their look alone.
Almost every subject in the basement is covered, and if you are a resident of Bath you will come to realise most of it is buried underground. Everything is interesting and everything is extremely tempting.
It is rather ‘specialised’ book shop in the way that you would not find any popular and much printed material on its shelves but rather good hand selected book-by-book for their worth and potential interest. Paperbacks are rare in this shop and it is altogether likely you will find a treasure.
This strain of bookshop is not a bad one. It harks back to an age when bibliomania was rife and the eagerness to collect those special kinds of books dominated the market. Bath Old Books are astute advisers and extremely knowledgeable about their stock. One gentleman even offered to source me out a specific book from other dealers. The bookshop is perhaps the last place in Bath where you can truly hunt out your book hunting passions, giving a hint of the dangerous but fascinating world of the book collector.