Hay-on-Wye: The Town of Books

Submitted by Blake on Wed, 11/21/2007 - 08:37

The Welsh town of Hay-on-Wye is a place where your bibliomania would not seem out of place. Hay-on-Wye is home to 1500 inhabitants and four million books. Hay-on-Wye, also known by its Welsh name Y Gelli (“The Grove”), lies on the border between Wales and England, and is about halfway between the English cities of Bristol and Birmingham. Secondhand and antiquarian booksellers made their home base in Hay-on-Wye, and by the end of the 1970s, the town became the world’s first “book town” with an estimated one million books in stock. According to the town’s official Web site, there are now 41 bookstores serving a population of 1500, which means there is one bookstore for every 37 residents. But because Richard Booth’s vision of the town as an international center of bookselling has been realized, locals now must share these stores with the approximately 500,000 visitors it receives each year.