Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Vintage Penguins in Eastbourne (courtesy of Camilla's Bookshop)

I didn't get to see a lot of Eastbourne.

There was no time during my recent two-week stay in Europe in which the weather was particularly conducive to sight-seeing, but the day in Eastbourne was particularly unpleasant. I arrived in the rain on a day when the wind was so fierce no one seemed able to get the door of the hotel shut, and I saw the pier only because it was across the road from the hotel. Now I look back rather fondly to last year when I walked along the cobb at Lyme Regis early one morning and naively reflected on how much more tranquil the pebbled beaches of England were compared to the beaches of Perth. It is the problem with extrapolating from small samples.

But Eastbourne is the home of Camilla's Bookshop, and that made my brief visit worthwhile.

The first thing I saw of Camilla's was an outside bookshelf which clearly operates on an honour system: there was a large bookshelf running alongside the side of the shop which was filled with paperbacks, and people are trusted to take a book and leave whatever is required, just as you see in Hay-on-Wye. There were no Penguins here, but as the bookshop was open there were other books in front of the shop available for sale, including a box of inexpensively-priced green-spined Penguins, and so finding several that I wanted to purchase, I was enticed inside.

The photos below show how Camilla's presents: it seems completely disorganised, and there are books stacked anyhow on the shelves, and surplus books stacked anyhow on the floor. There is a bookshelf of green Penguins not far from the front door, but then downstairs there is a whole bookcase filled with orange-spined books, a mixture of vintage Penguins and those published more recently. The books which don't fit on the shelves are stacked on the floor, so it meant a pleasant afternoon searching through them for the ones I wanted, with all the books I saw priced below two pounds each.

I think I found about 40 more Penguins (and therefore faced a heavily-book-laden search for my hotel). Many from of these dated from the late-60s which, with their less-interesting covers, are often surprisingly difficult to find.












Links:
Half a Million Books (A Fiction Habit)

21 comments:

  1. Fantastic! Every once in awhile there is a bookshop so stuffed with goodies I immediately start thinking 'sleepover party'. This is one of those places.

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    1. It is one of those places which are both exciting and daunting, because of the possibility of what you might find and of what you might miss. So, yes a sleepover party would be just the thing.

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  2. Did you make it to Tome on the same day? Just down from where you were staying, by the sound of things. I was in Camilla's yesterday, looking for 'In Love' by Alfred Hayes. I didn't find it - would be funny if you'd nabbed their copy.

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    1. I know I walked town Terminus Rd in the rain, so I must have walked right past Tome books without seeing it (perhaps just as well - I was already heavily laden with books). I suspect I was too intently focused on the blue dot on my Iphone at the time, trying to work out if I was heading the right way to the hotel. And no, I only have a single book by Alfred Hayes, and it is not 'In Love'.

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  3. (I love Cosy Book's comment about 'sleepover party'!) What a shop! - that view up the stairs (?) is amazing.

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    1. Yes - I guess I should have captioned them. The last photo is taken downstairs in the basement, opposite the wall/floor of Penguins, looking up the stairs. And the upstairs area is just the same: there are books everywhere.

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  4. This just makes me wish I lived near Eastbourne. The second hand shops where I live have very limited fiction sections and seem to have more Grishams and Crichtons than anything else.

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    1. There is nothing like this where I live either, except for one wonderful week each year when the Save the Children Fund have their annual book sale at the local University. Other than that I have to save all my book-buying for holidays. I wonder sometimes when I see all those large-format paperbacks on the shelves of suburban charity shops and secondhand bookshops, if the interesting older paperbacks are all being thrown away in the mistaken belief that no one wants them

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    2. I think you may be right about the shops thinking no-one wants them - even many of my local charity stores don't have older stuff, or if they do they have in a reduced basket whereas often these are the more interesting volumes. It's only the more switched on places like the Oxfam and Samaritans book shops that realise these are quite collectable!

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  5. What a fabulous book store and wonderful finds - how will you get them all back to Australia!!!

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    1. Well I returned with 27kgs of luggage, which was just within the allowance, and I posted the rest of the books home. I think it was more difficult getting them up to London for the flight home - I had to struggle up and down the staircases of quite a number of Tube stations.

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  6. Glad that Camilla's didn't disappoint! I'm not a big fan of Eastbourne, but Camilla's alone makes it worth a visit.

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    1. I had my first view of Lewes that day as well, and it looked very attractive, but it was so cold that nothing could entice me from the train. Thanks for the recommendation of Camilla's, I had a lovely afternoon.

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  7. Karyn,
    I'm so pleased you finally made it to Eastbourne and Camilla's and that you found enough books to make the trip worthwhile! I might pop there at the weekend and have another good old nosey as I'm planning on visiting my mother in law. Amazing that such a place still exists. Brilliant!
    Sarah

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    1. Hi Sarah,

      Camilla wasn't there when I visited, but the man on the till that day was very friendly and helpful. I thought it was a wonderful shop, though perhaps a little intimidating if you are looking for a particular book as their stock is just so overwhelming. You are lucky to live so close to such a wonderful shop.

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  8. Oh sorry I also meant to say, thanks for the link btw!

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  9. Wow! That's some cluttered bookstore - one of the best kinds ;)

    Good to see you are having fun despite one of the coldest months in English history!

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    1. We don't know how lucky we are, Jeremy. As I flew back to Perth, all I could think of was our endless blue sky and the prospect of weeks of lovely warm autumn days, and enjoyable evenings at the beach, even this close to winter. I have seen enough snow now to last me for years, and I don't think it made it above freezing the whole time I was there.

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  10. Oh, I am so dazzled! I just want to stare at the shelves forever.

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  11. Thanks for these lovely photos. Camilla's is one of my favourite bookshops - frustrating sometimes, but wonderfully intriguing, with character - and LOADS of good books!

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  12. Visited Camilla's today while on holiday and it's been the highlight so far. I could easily have spent half the day in there and rented a van to take home my selections. Will visit Eastbourne again with another bookworm soon! Managed to get ten Stephen King's for twenty quid! Used Google Sphere to take a picture of the basement for the friend I plan bring with me next time. He'll be blown away! Like me. The owner is incredibly helpful and believe me he knows where everything is!

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