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The Bookseller's Tale

Martin Latham

$35

Hardback

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Particular Books
17 November 2020
'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.
By:   Martin Latham
Imprint:   Particular Books
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 222mm,  Width: 144mm,  Spine: 34mm
Weight:   483g
ISBN:   9780241408810
ISBN 10:   0241408814
Pages:   320
Publication Date:   17 November 2020
Audience:   College/higher education ,  Professional and scholarly ,  General/trade ,  Primary ,  Undergraduate
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Martin Latham has been a bookseller for thirty-five years. He has a PhD in Indian history, and taught at Hertfordshire University before turning to bookselling. He is proud to be responsible for the biggest petty-cash claim in Waterstones' history, when he paid for the excavation of a Roman bath-house floor under his bookshop. Martin's other books include Kent's Strangest Tales and Londonopolis.

Reviews for The Bookseller's Tale

The Bookseller's Tale is a joy. I read the first chapters in a single binge-read, and each chapter instantly became my favourite ... Individually, the paragraphs are threads of the very best trivia: collectively, they become a cultural history of the book. Memoir-flecked, magpie-minded, relentlessly engaging ... I loved this gnarly old bookshop in nifty book form. -- David Mitchell, author of CLOUD ATLAS * Twitter * Martin Latham, who has sold [books] for more than 30 years, has done the tradition proud. His exploration of the history of books, and why we love them so much, is packed with touching stories and fascinating facts ... Underpinning the whole narrative is that simple pleasure, the love of a good book. -- Mark Mason * Daily Mail * Latham thinks bookshops should have an Aladdin's cave feeling and the same is true of this book, which combines anecdotes about his career (guest author Spike Milligan was a liability) with a cultural history of reading, printing, bookselling, libraries and anything bookish you care to think of (there's even a digression on the 5,500 different species of booklice). If ferreting through bookshops is your idea of heaven, you'll get the same pleasure from this treasure trove of a book. -- Jake Kerridge * Sunday Express * I loved this book, and I don't think I've read a book which is more crammed full of fantastic stories, interesting ideas, great quotes, great insights. It's not just on every page, it's in every paragraph. -- Simon Mayo, Scala Radio Garrulous, wide-ranging and humane ... The Bookseller's Tale has the teetering, ramshackle feeling of a reliably eclectic bookstore. -- Denis Duncan * Times Literary Supplement * Roaming across topics from legendary libraries to humble book pedlars, as well as historically overlooked literary forms like chapbooks and comfort reads, its appeal is vivid enough that even the electronic edition seems to exude the tantalising aroma of a used bookstore. -- Hephzibah Anderson * The Observer * A history and celebration of all things bookish ... This is a book that celebrates stories, scribbling in margins and the collecting, cherishing and even kissing of books - something done with surprising frequency, apparently ... ... Those who enjoy browsing in paper-scented bookshops, run by eccentric old storytellers with yarns to spare, will come away with something unexpected, reassuring and possibly worth a kiss. -- Katy Guest * The Guardian * For sheer enthusiasm, it will be hard to beat Martin Latham, bookseller at Waterstones Canterbury for three decades. His The Bookseller's Tale is a collection of tales about famous writers and bibliophiles, but above all a love letter to pages between covers. -- Paul Laity and Justine Jordan * The Guardian * A celebration of reading and readers and all things bookish. Entertaining, erudite, eccentric - The Bookseller's Tale is a delight. -- Alison Light, author of COMMON PEOPLE: THE HISTORY OF AN ENGLISH FAMILY Aside from being a history of books, this is a love letter, larded with charming anecdotes. There's AS Byatt buying a Terry Pratchett Discworld novel and admitting she can't be seen doing it in London, and another customer having a heart attack in his shop and saying it would be a great place to go . * Evening Standard * A shared love of books creates a fellowship that transcends race, culture, gender, age and class. This book, written with wit, elegance and understanding, by one who knows what he is talking about, celebrates the abiding pleasure, nourishment and comradeship that books provide. -- Salley Vickers, author of THE LIBRARIAN Delightful ... a love letter to publishing. -- Jack Blackburn * The Times * Martin Latham is a man of many parts ... This is jam packed full of interesting facts, amusing anecdotes, and witty quotes. It is to be devoured or dipped into, depending on one's taste and time and rewards both types of readers. A treat for book lovers. -- David Roche * BookBrunch *


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