Hay-on-Wye. A paradise for booklovers


As you will remember I have been thinking about bookshops recently and I wrote a post asking people what their ideal bookshop would be like. Not happy with that, I decided to ask one of the groups in Goodreads (UK group, thanks all) what would their ideal bookshop be like. Apart from fantastic thoughts and ideas, they also told me I had to visit Hay-on-Wye. Hay had been on my list for a long time and with my friend Sumi we had been talking about visiting their literary festival for several years, but we’ve never managed to make our schedules work (or only remembered far too late, as it books in advance, year on year it seems). I didn’t need much convincing and finally booked myself in for a weekend in Hay.

And I can tell you, they were right. Even if you don’t like books, you’d still like Hay. Just over the border in South Wales, it is a beautiful town, with an old market, great shops (evidently over 40 bookshops, but also clothes, crafts, local foods…), great pubs and restaurants…Even the cinema is fabulous, with stone walls and the most comfortable seats I’ve tried in a cinema for ages (and it has a bar…in case that makes a difference).

Granted, the weather wasn’t too great, but it’s October and Wales, so…not too cold either.

I can’t tell you how much I loved it. The sheds/like bookshops, the little ones, the ones like corridors, the thematic ones, the gorgeous/temple like ones, the Penguin one, the pink one…

And I was talking to one of the owners of the Addyman Books shops (they have 3, including one dedicated to crime: ‘Murder and Mayhem’,  the first picture in the post) who was really welcoming, encouraging, talked about how the business had changed, how now you have to be in the internet, how after 30 years in the business the US Library of Congress had ordered a book from them, how it is hard work but if you really love it and have ideas…She told me that all writers wanted to own bookshops and all bookshop owners wanted to be writers, and told me that they were always looking for enthusiastic and intelligent people who could plan events, etc. And yes, getting hands on experience would be good in her opinion.


In case you haven’t worked it out yet, I’m one of those writers who’d like to own a bookshop. At the moment collecting ideas, we shall see.

I share a few of the pictures I took with you. They will probably keep coming…


Thanks for reading, and if you have enjoyed it, please, like, comment, and share!

(Oh, and thanks to the owners of the Rothbury B&B for their hospitality. Lovely house and I’d never before tried a bath with feet!)

Link to my previous post on bookshops:


By olganm

I am a language teacher, writer, bookworm, and collaborator at Sants 3 Ràdio (a local radio station in Barcelona, where I returned in 2018), who lived in the UK for 25 years and worked for many years as a forensic psychiatrist there. I also have a Ph.D. in American Literature and an MSc in Criminology. I started publishing my stories, in English and Spanish, in 2012 and now have over twenty books available in a variety of genres, a blog (in English and Spanish), and translate books for other authors (English-Spanish and vice versa). In 2020 obtained the CELTA certificate as a language teacher, and offer Spanish and English classes. Writers and readers both in English and Spanish are my friends, colleagues, and allies, and after living in the UK for over twenty-five years, have returned home, to Barcelona, Spain, searching for inspiration for my stories. I also love owls and try to keep fit following fitness YouTube videos.
Do feel free to connect with me. Here are:
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12 replies on “Hay-on-Wye. A paradise for booklovers”

It’s a gorgeous place, but I did notice a few months ago that there are fewer bookshops here than there were a few years ago. There are a lot more little vintage/antique shops and clothes shops, which are probably good for general tourism (and I must say I like them too!). But it’s still the best place to come for second hand books and I love its anti-e-book posters!


I’d love to visit it sometime, Olga – I also have an abiding love for such places, and this looks so lovely. Yes, it is sad to witness these businesses disappear. In my city, they have all gone now. All there is, is a bookstore which is part of a Midwestern US chain. My book is in most of them, and I appreciate that for what it is. Albeit, we are losing something important in this. Even the ‘new book’ stores are likely to go their not-so-merry-way soon, as you know. And yes, the anti-e-book posters, oh boy! Very cool! Brightest of blessings in your day, my friend!


I’d never been before so can’t really comment, although I agree there are lovely shops on all kinds of things (and yes, I bought a pair of very comfortable shoes and a handbag apart from books). Data seems to indicate that small independent bookshops/bookstores, aren’t doing badly and mid-size chains are doing worse, but they need to be fairly inventive and have community support. And as the owner of the bookshop was telling me, they’re going to be selling abroad and via website, not exclusively on the shop. I heard the owner of the Penguin bookshop saying he was selling more via web than in the shop and he was wondering if he could manage the shop without being there the whole week.
I have my first book out on paper today but so far I had only published in electronic format, so cannot share their feelings on that. I’m sure both formats can coexist. And I guess the answer could be either diversify or specialise. Yes, certain books you’re never going to find in e-format or even if available they’d lose a lot of their charm.
I’m reading Andrew Laties’s book ‘The Rebel Bookseller. Why Indie Businesses Represent Everything You Want to Fight For – From Freedom of Speech to Buying Local to Building Communities’ and I’m really enjoying it. His motto, Adapt not Adopt.
Thanks for comments. A reader in Goodreads share what seems like a wonderful bookshop with me. This is what I think we’d all like:


Hello Olga..your visit sounds lovely, and very inspiring. Thank you for this wonderful article, and looking forward to more pictures, and more about your dream place! 😉


Thanks so much. Just in case you want to see what I’m dreaming off, I created a board in pinterest where I’m collecting interesting pictures of bookshops and all…Amazing places…


You’re right. Although strangely enough considering the size, quite a vibrant place and great interest not only in books but in events and culture in general. I loved it.


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