OK, I do buy a lot of my books online these days. But there is nothing finer than finding a new-to-you second-hand bookshop and spending off-the-clock time browsing the shelves. Rows and rows of book spines suggesting tasty dust jackets and illustrated interiors. Sometimes the spines are illustrated as well, which is even better.
I am not sure London is the best place for this. There aren’t many bargains to be had here, it’s true. But more importantly I want a bookshop that is less mannered and somehow less curated than those in London.
I went into a crammed, vertically-challenged bookshop in Lewes the other week and all I could smell was wet dog; emanating from the hound snoozing by the till. It seemed right, somehow.
And a 50p box is something London bookshops don’t do so often. But that curled cardboard often contains those inter-war and post-war pamphlets that I hunger for – BBC music for schools leaflets or funny old V&A; gallery guides in gay patterned-paper wrappers.
I have whittled my collecting down to almost nothing over the last few years. Books keep calling to me though. It’s somehow excusable to have lots of them. Educational, don’t you know? I do try to read most of them; from big picture books of fashion, to small histories of shopping in Oldham.
And on my regular jaunts to the grand bookshops in Southport, I always seem to turn up something. This beautiful Tom Eckersley cover being the last one. Those two gentlemen are classic Eckersley characters, almost typographical in form and witty in execution . His work positively sings to me – the colors, humour and illustrations are so happy. Oh, and the sense of restrained space and simplicity of message, too.
If I could go back in time, then I’d like to walk down a dirty tube platform in the late 1930s, when – paired with Eric Lombers – he was turning out real beauties for London Transport’s poster department.