The second-hand bookstores of Hay-on-Wye are famous worldwide.
The Children’s Bookshop is situated on outskirts of town and is owned by Judith Gardner.
Judith moved to Hay-on-Wye in 1978 and like most people in the town, she started her career working for Richard Booth who owned several bookshops in Hay. She spotted about 300 children’s books for sale in Richard Booth’s 30p shop and originally purchased them for a relative working in a school. Soon after she rented some shop space with her husband, he sold clocks one side, and she sold the children’s books she’d bought on the other. The venture grew from there. She now has over twenty thousand second-hand books in stock.
At the moment, the concentration of books is from the late 1930’s to 1980’s. They are books to read rather than works of art. She deals mainly with adult collectors, teachers, writers or researchers, rather than children.
Collectors look for series books written about the same characters, such as the Hardy Boys books and the Pollyanna books. Another area for collectors is girl’s school stories by authors like Angela Brazil, Elinor M Brent-Dyer and Dorita Fairlie Bruce. They give a snapshot of social history. Basic adventure books like the Biggles’ books by Captain W. E. Johns, especially the early ones, also sell well. Boys’ school stories are not sought after as much. Judith mentioned there is also a big market in second-hand scouting and guiding books.
She explained the second-hand book trade is like dealing in stamps and a totally different market to selling new books. Older books can sell for much more than there original cover price, but a book is only worth what someone is prepared to pay for it. If the author has signed the book, it can alter the value, if they add a doodle it could add an extra £20.
There is also a first edition mania. A first edition Debbie Glori book starts from around £100 and could sell for as much as £500. The first Harry Potter books were sold under the name of Joanne Rowling and these fetch enormous amounts of money.
However, there are trends in the second-hand book sales in the same way as there are with new books. Second-hand book trends tend to go in decades, as people often want to show their children and grandchildren what they were reading as a child. At the moment, they are beginning to come into the 1980’s, especially with annuals from that era and science fiction and fantasy titles are very popular. The Children’s bookshop operates a free book search service for books not currently in stock. An online catalogue is available and they offer a worldwide postal service. Visit the website at www.childrensbookshop.com