Richard Booth, Self-Crowned King of Used Books, Dies at 80

Richard Booth, Self-Crowned King of Used Books, Dies at 80


“Shopping for a small store in Hay-on-Wye meant that as an alternative of taking part in a minor function in a significant enterprise, I may play a significant function in a minor one,” he wrote in his autobiography, “My Kingdom of Books” (1999).

He purchased the previous firehouse, then warehouses and a Norman fort, and started transport in truckloads of books. Copycats flourished, too.

“Sales space was shopping for them at pennies on the greenback in the US,” Paul Collins wrote in “Sixpence Home: Misplaced in a City of Books” (2003), a guide about Hay, “as previous seminaries went bankrupt, as ignoramuses staffing Peabody Libraries bought off their treasures — as a result of ‘no person reads them’ — as New York establishments like Stechert-Hafner shut their doorways, and as little previous wealthy women died and left libraries to half-literate progeny.”

Mr. Sales space’s stock was encyclopedic. Browsers may discover copies of “Ploughing Rules for Bengal” and character research of Cromwell’s cranium. Individuals stocked their private libraries on the idea of particular bindings. He furnished books for film units and provided a German city with the manuals to duplicate the Wehrmacht’s unique archive.

On April 1, 1977, Mr. Sales space declared Hay an impartial kingdom and named his horse prime minister, a stunt that he later augmented with passports and peerages. Whereas he by no means abdicated, by 2005 his half-dozen shops had dwindled to at least one, which he bought. (It’s nonetheless in enterprise.) He continued to function a retailer, the King of Hay, which bought regal trumpery celebrating his reign.

His first two marriages have been, as he described them, unsuccessful. (The second lasted at some point. “Vicky needed to flout authority,” he wrote, “whereas I didn’t suppose authority was price flouting.”) Within the late 1980s he married Hope Barrie Stuart, a photographer, who survives him, as do two sisters, Joanna and Anne.

Mr. Sales space’s campaigns for public workplace have been additionally unsuccessful. Because the Socialist Labour Get together candidate for the Welsh Meeting in 1999 and for the European Parliament a decade later, he drew lower than 2 p.c of the vote.



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