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George Bayntun Books

posted on 03 Aug 2015

You could be forgiven for thinking that George Bayntun Books in Bath is a bit of a forbidding or exclusive place. It has a remarkable frontage - a lovely period building with a sweep of glass windows to the front guarded by decorative iron railings. As you approach the doors up the small flight of steps it feels like you are in for a very traditional experience reminiscent of  an old-fashioned bookshop from the Fifties - or even earlier. The sense of exclusivity is enhanced by the need to ring the front buzzer for access - but once inside there's a pretty friendly welcome and quite a relaxed atmosphere which confounds the expectation that anyone making getting into the shop so difficult must be pretty snooty.

Upstairs the shop has a lot of floor space and can easily contain some very large glass-fronted bookcases that hold the fine bound books or the modern first editions. There are also plenty of up-market illustrated books - a selection that includes classic and modern titles - and they are all in excellent condition and well presented. There is also a bookbinding service on the premises and they sell the equipment and materials to do your own if you are brave enough or skilled enough to do it. There are also framed and unframed collectible prints and maps in a dedicated space towards the rear of the shop.

Downstairs is a bit more rough and ready. There is plenty of much more run-of-mill stock on shelves that run floor to ceiling throughout the basement. I'm pretty sure there are some interesting and decently priced books here if you've got the patience and time to scour the shelves - unfortunately I haven't spent long enough picking over the stock to come up with a gem. Yet!

This shop is probably best described as venerable - but don't be put off by that. It's well worth a visit just don't expect to find huge bargains here - that's not what they are about. Go there to find top-class collectibles and don't be afraid to pay for the best.

Terry Potter

August 2015