• York: Stone Trough Books, 2011.
  • 5.25 x 8.75 inches
  • paperback
  • 118 pages
  • ISBN: 9780954454234

Price: $17.50  other currencies

Order Nr. 108660

New impression, with corrections. For over thirty-five years bookseller David Batterham has been going on book buying trips abroad and describing his journeys in letters written to artist Howard Hodgkin. This book contains the letters he wrote that reveal his traveling adventures and his buying interest and history. The visitable bookseller, a fast disappearing breed, is immortalized in this text. Lighthearted, entertaining, and charming, this book is intended to amuse rather than instruct.

Travelling around France, Spain, Portugal, America, Denmark, Holland, and Finland, Batterham wrote letters to Hodgkin to keep himself occupied since he mostly traveled on his own. The letters presented in this book begin in August 1970 and continue until January 2006. Describing his daily activities, conversations he had with acquaintances along the way, his plans for seeing new shops and buying books, and much more, the letters encompass Batterham's entire travelling and book-buying experience. He wrote mostly during the evenings when book shops were closed, many times in a local café with a drink in hand. As he states, his mission was to collect books that "one can enjoy without having to read," including trade catalogues, fashion magazines, and other illustrated journals, typography, political caricatures, and architectural pattern books. As he didn't have a shop, he worked on the theory that if he only bought things he liked himself, he would eventually find enough catalogue customers who shared his tastes.

Filled with humorous and fun tales of the life of a bookseller, this book is an enjoyable and delightful read. "An extraordinary portrait of the strange, eccentric world of dealing and collecting, with its chance encounters, its crazed characters, its obsessions and its loneliness." -Margaret Drabble.

"For thirty five years bookseller David Batterham has been making buying trips abroad and describing his adventures in letters to artist Howard Hodgkin. He was looking for trade catalogues , fashion magazines and other illustrated journals but his colleagues interest him almost as much, seen in their homes and shops. The visitable bookseller, a vanishing breed, is here immortalised" Publishers blurb.
Part diary, part memoir, some anecdotes and reflections; intended to amuse rather than inform! Designed by typographer George Ramsden with cover from a painting by Howard Hodgkin - an elegant little bedside book or stocking filler .
"completely fascinating and totally enjoyable" Howard Hodgkin
"...a gallery of eccentrics with Batterham himself the most notable, drunk, often penniless... ...lucky Hodgkin to have received these letters " Alan Bennett in London Review of Books
"An extraordinary picture of the strange eccentric world of dealers with its chance encounters, crazed characters, its obsessions and its loneliness" Margaret Drabble
"wonderfully redolent, skirting Chatwin Country in favour of Simenon's Maigret" William Feaver
"beguiling. I couldn't put it down" Simon Hoggart in the Guardian
"It's addictive!" James Fergusson (he also chose it as one of his "books of the year " in TLS)
"this book is a cracking read!" Amazon reader's review
"the funniest book I have read in years" Richard Burton
"a considerable prose stylist who has cleverly hit on the perfect vehicle for his absurdist or farcical take on the world. The book is a delight" Christopher Reid.