Bookworms battle for soul of Hay-on-Wye
Sunday 09 July 1995
Hay-on-Wye, says the guide's latest edition, "is a hospice for books that nobody can bear to see die in public". Drif (everyone calls him that, though he says his mother did not give him the name, and has much worse ones for him) calls for a Mafia-style mercy killing to rid the world of this contamination.
"The Drif guide is complete and utter ignorant drivel," retorts Mr Booth, who started his first bookshop in Hay in 1961 and has owned most of the 20 or so bookshops there at one time or another in the years since. From time to time, what he calls "financial lunacy" has led to bargain- basement sales of bits of his business, especially during a spectacular crash in 1984.
Now, he is especially proud of having a fine selection of material on the American Indian.
Unfortunately for readers of Drif's Guide, Mr Field has failed to mention Mr Booth's vast Castle Bookshop in which the stock is housed.
"That must be a Freudian slip because I hated the place so much," says the guide's author. "The Castle Bookshop is a total dump. Anyway, it proves that when you go to Hay you lose your brain. The Castle Bookshop is no good. The books are dull books."
Mr Booth does not dispute that Hay's bookshops contain dross. "Every bookshop is a museum of the unsaleable," he says. Something like one- third of his stock comes in from dealers in the US, by the containerload. "The last container had 20,000 modern novels," he says, and suggests that they cannot all be any good.
If Mr Booth is being harried by Mr Field, spare a thought for Leon Morelli, who made a success of the Cinema Bookshop he picked up from Mr Booth. Drif writes of Mr Morelli that he is possibly anally retentive. Mind you, Mr Morelli is used to abuse. He says that when he owned a confectioner's in the town, Mr Booth quipped: "For a pain in the belly, buy ice-cream from Morelli."
Behind the barbs and mud-slinging, it is hard to dispute that Mr Booth started an industry which has helped Hay to prosper. He thinks the town may have a book turnover of pounds 2-pounds 3m (his shops have about a quarter of the trade), with more again in accommodation and eateries.
As for Mr Field - at least he does not pretend his guide is infallible, except perversely: "I may be fundamentally in error, but I'm consistently in error. There are people who operate on the principle that if I say a shop's bad they rush to it."
- 1 Venezuela Expo Tattoo 2015: Extreme body art from 'Vampire Woman' to 109mm earlobes
- 3 Ball pool for adults opens in London
- 4 Game of Thrones season 5 trailer: The first full-length look is here
Mia Khalifa: Pornhub star claims Drake sent her 'cringeworthy' naked photos on Instagram
Boris Johnson claims porn-obsessed Islamic jihadists are 'literally w*****s'
Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
Putin opponent reveals Russian President's daughter's secret identity
Ball pool for adults opens in London
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
King Abdullah dead: We can't afford not to hold Saudi Arabia's royals to account
£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...
Excellent Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - HIGHEST QUALITY INTERNATIONAL FIRM - A...
Excellent Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - EXCELLENT FIRM - We have an outstandin...
Excellent Package: Austen Lloyd: IN-HOUSE - NATIONAL CHARITY - An exciting and...