Spot Check: The Talking Bookshop

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Indy Lifestyle Online
We've all spotted the talking book addict. A long haired forty something in brown cord and paisley, pottering along in a beaten-up station wagon. A Kit-Kat melts in one hand while he fumbles to swap a treasured recording of Homer's The Iliad with the other.

This stereotype is changing. Busy book lovers now flock to buy books on tape. 'Being read to is a great pleasure,' says Carole Simmonds, who runs. The Talking Bookshop - the only bookshop in the country devoted exclusively to selling talking book cassettes. 'We get housewives, grandmothers, children. . . With a talking book you can sit in the kitchen, put up your feet and relax.'

At this compulsively tidy outlet, talking books come under just about every heading. While most classics, some Shakespeare and poetry are their mainstay stock, a juicy array of interesting and bestselling fiction proved a more engrossing trawl. Biggest current sellers are Schindler's List read by Ben Kingsley and Wild Swans read by Anna Massey. Andy McNabb's Bravo Two Zero is on stock as is Brian Keenan's An Evil Cradling. A selection of blue verse called Eskimo Nell is selling well and something called Dealing With All Those Impossible People At Work seemed to beckon from the shelves.

Humour (Woody Allen, The Goons, Derek and Clive) is also available and children's books (C S Lewis, Enid Blyton, Roald Dahl) were also part of a big display. Only Julie Burchill's Ambition, read by Elizabeth Hurley, proved to stump the staff (it hasn't yet hit the shelves). They did, however, have The New Testament, Dracula and The Bridges of Maddison Country. Prices range from pounds 4.99 to pounds 7.99, making them cheaper than some books.

A mail order service is available.

The Talking Bookshop, 11 Wigmore St, London W1 (071 495 8799) Mon-Fri 9.30am-5.30pm/Sat 10am-5pm