Sunday 25 July 2010

The Island Without Any Bookshops

Actually that's not quite true: Guernsey does have some bookshops. It's just they're of the WHSmiths variety: new books only, and a limited selection at that.

Yes, I'm back from a week's break in the Channel Island known as Guernsey, where you'd think, with a population of 65,000, there might be a second hand bookshop or two. But no. You'd be wrong. They do have the occasional book fair there – I missed the most recent one by a matter of days – but no second hand bookshops, as a befuddled man in a stamp and postcard collectors' shop explained to me. Still, they do have a lovely coastline:

so it's not all bad. And of course I did manage to ferret out a few books here and there in charity shops and the like, including at one point a little stall by the side of the road (Guernsey is dotted with little boxes on garden walls containing what's known as 'hedge veg': local produce for sale to anyone passing):

That's me having a rummage. I didn't find anything there, but I did pick these up elsewhere:

A 1971 UK first edition of Hammond Innes' Lekvas Man, published in hardback by Collins, and a 1984 UK first edition of Frederick Forsyth's The Fourth Protocol, published in hardback by Hutchinson. Not exactly scarce either of 'em, but at 50p apiece I can't really complain, and with so few books on offer on the island, well, beggars can't be choosers. Not sure if the Innes will be my cup of tea, but I liked the jacket, which was designed by Richard Dalkins. As for the Forsyth, I read The Day of the Jackal years and years ago, and The Fourth Protocol is supposed to be a solid read. The jacket was designed by Raymond Hawkey, who I've mentioned before, and which I was surprised about: it's not particularly creative. I mean, it's striking enough, but not up there with, say, The Book of Bond.

I did manage to polish off a couple of books in the past week: Richard Stark's The Black Ice Score and Geoffrey Household's Rogue Male, but I'll blog about those separately. So yes. I'm back. Hang out the fecking bunting.


  1. Unbelievable, to turn a corner in a country lane in Guernsey and find a second hand book stall - it could only happen to a blogger

  2. I have been keenly anticipating The Cobra from Frederick Forsyth, though the list given in the beginning is slightly disturbing, can’t track all of them.