The Uncensored Diary of a Bookseller

Burning Booksellers at the Stake

Posted by Wally O Neill on

“Non dolet ipse Dolet, sed pia turba dolet.”“Dolet himself does not suffer, but the pious crowd grieves”.- Étienne Dolet as he was led through a mob to his death In 1546, French scholar, printer and sometime bookseller Étienne Dolet was arrested for printing 'blasphemous' books which approved of the doctrine of predestination. The French parliament ordered the burning of Dolet's book containing 'damnable, pernicious and heretical doctrines'. A great fire was made in Place Maubert in the city of Paris. Dolet was hung on gallows and thrown into the fire with his books. Both were burnt to ashes. On a...

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Guerilla Bookselling

Posted by Wally O Neill on

“Know when to fight and when not to fight. Avoid what is strong and strike at what is weak. Know how to deceive the enemy: appear weak when you are strong, and strong when you are weak.”- Sun Tzu (The Art of War)Ho Chi O’ Leary has developed a system of bookselling uniquely designed to combat lockdowns, inflation, wars and Amazon. A distinctive series of hit-and-run's, under-pricing in vast quantities and Tet offensive-marketing. Ho Chi O’ Leary is the architect of guerilla bookselling. Covered in camouflage of pulp paperbacks, antiquarian ephemera and oak biscuit crumbs, he networks his way across...

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Crowley’s Literary bombs and the Riverdance conspiracy

Posted by Wally O Neill on

“Did you ever hear about Aleister Crowley’s attempts to produce a literary bomb?” Rosencrantz lays across my counter, feigning relaxation, waiting for me to answer. Beside him, his ever present dogsbody Guildenstern is frothing at the mouth, hoping against hope that he’ll be allowed to deliver the punchline for once. “Its rumoured that he created a letter that would eradicate the brain of the reader during an act of black ritual magick,” Rosencrantz goes on. “The British government paid him to do it and send the letter to Hitler in early 1940. Unfortunately it was intercepted by Hess and the...

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The Patron Saint of Booksellers

Posted by Wally O Neill on

St John of God is the patron Saint of booksellers. He’s also the patron Saint of the mentally ill. That probably speaks volumes. The Book Buddha nods off behind a row of exquisite leather-bound folios across the hall from me. Another book fair with more book sellers than book buyers. Why do we put ourselves through this torture? Packing up boxes of books, driving across the country, only to be met with an indifferent and, often, non-existent audience. As you sit among a room of books, books for every conceivable taste, without a potential reader in sight, the terrible thought...

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Unconventional Customers #77

Posted by Wally O Neill on

All things move in cycles they say and our cycle, the bookseller’s cycle, is coming to an end. There was a day when bookshops ruled the roost and had respect. Thirty miles of book shelving in Foyles. The smell of leather and print in Livraria Bertrand. Brendan Behan throwing a cooked chicken at Patrick Kavanagh as he attempted to recite the stony grey soil of Monaghan in Parsons. Joyce and Hemingway sitting under the unused mantelpiece at 12 rue de l'Odeon in Paris. Enza Pound preaching. Sylvia Beach, sweet Sylvia, running around after Joyce, making sure he had enough money...

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