91 Fulham High Street, SW6 3JS
020 7736 4363
Putney Bridge LU
ring for details of opening hours
Rather hidden away on the north side of Putney Bridge, you will need to take steep steps leading down to Willow Bank and walk around the corner to the junction with Ranelagh Gardens to find this amazing bookshop. This small second-hand literary institution is well worth the effort as it is incredibly well stocked and run with eccentric charm by the ever enthusiastic Ray Cole, who has been in the book trade for over forty years. There are so many books that they are piled high in the windows and inside, the store is a maze of high bookshelves with ladders enabling visitors to search out the next addition to their library. Most general subjects are covered and there are some rare and antiquarian titles to view on request. The selection of modern fiction is especially broad with many in the £3-£5 range.
Ray still loves his work, although by his own admission it is more a quixotic adventure than a sound financial enterprise:
‘I’m really not in the book trade for the money… I just love books and even prefer buying them to selling them. I also like the people you meet in this trade and the visitors to the shop’.
A testament to Ray’s enthusiasm for books is the warehouse which is just around the corner from the shop and is said to contain over one million books, all catalogued and kept in order by a small team. If time and staff are available book lovers’ can visit the warehouse for a more extensive browse or particular books can be brought to the shop in advance of a visit.
The shop keeps wonderfully erratic opening hours so telephone before making a journey. If the store is closed when you arrive there’s usually a bookshelf or two of books outside operating an honesty box system. Despite the delightful chaos, there is a printed catalogue in the shop to help customers find particular titles. Next door to the shop is The Eight Bells pub – good for a reviving drink and a pub lunch.