In the same feature, book dealer Tony Fothergill, chairman of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association added that “the numbers of young people coming into the trade is much higher than at any time I’ve known".
Step forward Milly Hughes of Blueberry Books in Bradford-on-Avon, near Bath, who runs this small business from home. There her stock of antiquarian books and pamphlets is taking over the house she shares with her fiancé Richard Hall whom she marries later this month.
She said: “I graduated from the University of Chichester around the start of the recession and applied to just about any job I could get my hands on. There was a rather unassuming advert for a job in Bath where they were looking for graduates, so I applied for that too.
“Within a week I was working for Rooke Books in Bath, which has a stock of 20,000 items. I discovered that I absolutely loved antiquarian books.
“A few years ago I inherited some money and chose to quit my job [in a different industry] and set up Blueberry Books two years ago.’’
Hughes’ stock reflects the rather quirky early subject matter which interests her such as DD Home: His Life and Mission about Daniel Dunglas Home, the Victorian medium whose particular speciality was levitation “to a variety of heights”, or Henry Fielding’s 1751 An Enquiry into the Causes of the Late Increase of Robbers with some Proposals for Remedying this Growing Evil, an influential tract which contributed to the passing of the Gin Act.
“I buy books on a range of subjects," she added. "I have a penchant for pamphlets, but I also like bindings. If I was leaning towards a speciality it would probably be 17th century works in English. I like the typography from that period, the bindings, the woodcuts, not to mention the political and religious tracts. It’s a really interesting melting pot."
Hughes is a member of the PBFA (Provincial Booksellers Fairs Association) and has stood at two of her local fairs in Frome and Devizes. She said: “Both fairs were great and I’d like to do the PBFA fairs at Bath and Bristol next year for sure.’’