Archive for November, 2013

What’s the Story behind the Intriguing Collection of Tiny Books Behind the Counter

November 15th, 2013

The miniature books are something I have bought and sold since I began bookselling, in the 1980′s, as a very young man, hawking books around London on foot to the West End bookshops and later at monthly bookfairs in Bloomsbury and then in my own bookshops.
Miniatures originated when almanacs (our equivalent of diaries) and religious texts were needed in portable editions for the waistcoat pocket, to be consulted when at work or travelling. In Victorian times they were also used to advertise things such as Pears soap, and classic texts by Shakespeare and Lord Tennyson for example were issued as collectables. There were still some practical miniature editions of tables printed for engineers and foreign language dictionaries for travellers, but gradually miniature books have become more and more prized as objects to collect. The technical achievement of producing a legible book in such a tiny format still fascinates me.
Because I have found them so intriguing, you will always find a selection for sale at my bookshop, from rarities up to 20th century examples that you can buy from as little as £7.99 or into the hundreds of pounds.

On the Buy Out of Print Books tab, on the home page of the CamdenLock Books website, you can see a list of just a few miniature books in stock now. You should click on “View all catalogues” and then again on “Miniature”.

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Future of Old Street Roundabout and the bookshop

November 11th, 2013

I met Robin Charlesworth of TfL last Friday to hear his plans.
Short-term he is going to hand over up to 5 shop units to a letting company to administer as pop-up shops. He is bringing in the Parks Police from December to patrol. He will make changes towards unifying the image of the advertising hoardings, signage, A-boards and shop fronts. Lighting and flooring may also be uplifted. There are also unspecified plans to provide something to do with contemprorary fine arts on the surface of the roundabout ( I reminded him of the proposal to use the plinth for installations). All these changes are dependant on funding streams and parts of it are somewhat experimental and subject to change as the plans evolve.
The medium-term plans are in respect of the de-insularisation of the roundabout and largely concern the changes to the roads at the surface. These are currently being negotiated by TfL, Hackney and Islington boroughs and the Highways Agency. Robin does not have anything to do with this phase apart from if any of the underground parts require structural strengthening to support the new roads above. Any disruption to the underground or to the shops will be kept to a minimum and should not involve any longer-term impact.
The long-term plans reflect the fact that Old Street is third highest priority for TfL to redevelop in order to manage the ratio of space available to a significant increase in passenger use at the station. This will involve the station and the shops closing and being completely rebuilt from the tracks upwards at a cost of hundreds of millions of pounds. As such this is not likey to happen for many years to come and it is likely to be a major project that is discussed at all levels over the forthcoming years, with a possible starting date as late as 2021 or later.
The bookshop will be remaining in situ to provide for all its valued customers as long as possible. We are in the course of negotiating another six year lease presently.
Please correct me if I have misunderstood or misrepresented any of TfL’s plans.