Yesterday, I was in Llanidloes at the Aladdin’s cave of bibliographic delights that is Great Oak Books.
Run by the redoubtable Clive Upton (that’s him in the picture) the bookshop sells both new and second hand books and, in the pre-owned ‘barn’ section, there’s a proper treasure trove which includes subject areas as diverse as railways and archaeology, poetry and genealogy. If you’re a local history/archaeology buff, you might like to check his stocks of past issues of learned journals like The Montgomeryshire Collections, Shropshire History and Archaeology, Archaeologia Cambrensis and The Archaeological Journal.
Fortunately for me, Great Oak Books also sells a good deal of new and second hand crime novels and is particularly supportive of local authors. Much to my delight, I found my Crime Cymru comrade Jan Newton’s new Julie Kite novel face-out on the ‘new books’ section in front of the till.
Clive had kindly placed me front and centre in the shop, sitting behind a pile of my books and a screen showing details of me and the books – I definitely benefited from Clive being a former IT professional ☺
Saturday’s market day in Llanidloes which turned out to be a bit of a mixed blessing for the book tour. Though it brought people in to town where they might notice the posters that Clive had seeded here and there in supportive shops, it also brought a large and well-stocked clothing stall which obscured the front of the shop, making it invisible from the other side of the street. Still, we countered that by putting a small table with my two banners on it outside, plus an A-frame with an A3 version of the #IndyBookTourCymru 2019 publicity poster.
Fortunately, our makeshift advertising obviously worked because people came to see what this author visit was all about and I had some really interesting conversations.
Like Bala and Caernarfon, I’d never visited Llanidloes before but I found it to be an interesting and attractive little town. Next weekend they’re having a food festival focused on plant based food which is pretty cutting edge. And Great Oak Books fits in well to that alternative vibe – it’s eclectic, slightly quirky and has a great mix of local and wider-world interest in terms of the books it stocks. Despite the fact that he only took the bookshop over last year, Clive already seems well bedded in to the community and knows a lot of local authors.
He was so obviously in his element talking about books and encouraging me to read various writers whose work he’d recently enjoyed that I asked him if he’d always wanted to run a bookshop.
‘I’ve always wanted to run this bookshop,’ he told me, ‘and now I am. It’s a dream come true!’
Books – such a thing as dreams are made on (to mangle Shakespeare) for many of us!
Many thanks to Clive for such a warm welcome and for doing so much work to make the event at Great Oak Books a success – I’m sure this won’t be my only visit to Llanidloes.