May 17, 2011

Barter Books, or: Does this Place Really Exist?

I was in Northumberland this past weekend, and one of the places I visited was Barter Books, a used bookshop in Alnwick village. Barter Books is a place quite a few of you might know at least by name, as it made the news a few years ago when its owner discovered the now famous “Keep Calm and Carry On” WW2 posters.

Barter Books is inside a disused Victorian train station and is one of the largest used bookshops in Europe. I knew this before my visit, and so I was expecting to be impressed – but let me tell you, not nearly as impressed as I was. I think Leakey’s Bookshop in Inverness (which is inside an old church) and Livraria Lello in Porto might have been displaced as the coolest bookshops I’ve ever been to.

Part of me can hardly believe Barter Books is even real. Not only is the place welcoming and wonderfully decorated, but the selection is nearly overwhelming: an entire train station full of used books, with everything from modern paperbacks to classic first editions. The prices are of course very variable, but there were some real bargains to be found (including lots of green Viragoes in lovely condition for under £2).

But enough talking – I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves:

Barter Books

Barter Books

Barter Books

Barter Books

Barter Books

Barter Books

Barter Books

Barter Books

Barter Books

Barter Books

How amazing is that?

And while I’m at it, here are a few general pictures from my trip:

Newcastle
Steampunk mall in Newcastle

Newcastle
Still Newcastle

Newcastle
The river Tyne seen from the Castle Keep

Alnwick
Alnwick Castle, where the Harry Potter movies were filmed

Alnwick

Almouth
Almouth village

Almouth

Seven Stories
The amazing Seven Stories in Newcastle

Seven Stories

Seven Stories

The Sage
The Sage, Gateshead

I hope you all had lovely weekends yourselves. I’m afraid that this trip means I’m behind on everything blog related yet again, but I think I’m starting to learn not to feel guilty and just hope that one of these days I’ll actually catch up.

51 comments:

  1. OMG, you are right, that shop is amazing. I loved all those banners above the aisles.

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  2. I featured Barter Books as 'Bookshelf of the Week' last year, but your gorgeous pics bring it to life better than I ever could. And you're right, that whole fireplace/comfy chair ensemble is simply stunning.

    Hopefully I'll get to it for real one day myself. Your post has only deepened that wish.
    Warmest
    Rob

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  3. I think I'm in love. A tiny part of me is glad this bookstore is no where near me, because if it was i'm not sure I would ever leave it. I love the pictures so much!

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  4. What an amazingly beautiful store—thank you so much for sharing your photos with us. Wow.

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  5. So. Jealous!!!!!!!!!! I must absolutely get there someday. Sigh. I do have a Keep Calm and Carry On Reading bookmark which I bought last year at the Library of Congress gift shop. Wish I'd bought more as gifts.

    Is Alnwick castle where they filmed Hogwarts? Inside or outside? So cool!!

    And I love the photo of the back half of the sheep. Hilarious!

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  6. Instant book lust. I want to go there NOW. My one regret in my travels is that I spent my time in England in London and not in the countryside. I will have to correct that on my next trip. How fabulous.

    You always visit the most interesting, beautiful places.

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  7. That bookstore looks hella awesome. Lucky you!

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  8. Oh my! That bookstore looks amazing! I love that they used an old train station - what a great way to preserve some history and the atmosphere seems lovely.

    Many moons ago when I was in England (back in 2005) I got to visit Alnwick Castle which gave me a huge thrill being the HP fan that I am. If only I had known about that bookshop though!

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  9. What a great weekend! Barter Books looks fantastic!

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  10. Barter Books is amazing, isn't it! I live about an hour away from Alnwick so I've been there many times and it's definitely the most impressive bookshop I've ever come across. Their prices seem to have gone up a lot in the last few years, but you can still always find plenty of bargains.

    I hope you enjoyed the rest of your trip as well!

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  11. Lovely photos! And so envious that you got to go to this amazing bookshop..... :)

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  12. I've heard of Barter Books but never had the good fortune to go there - looks like I should make a trip! I love the idea of putting a bookstore inside a historic train station. It just ticks all the boxes for me.

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  13. That bookstore is amazing! It's only three hours from where I live! I will have to make a trip over to it and check it out myself. I was in Inverness a few months ago. I'm kicking myself that I didn't know about that Leakey's Bookshop when I was there.

    It looks like you had a wonderful trip. I'm glad you're not feeling guilty about being a bit behind. You have to take opportunities as they come.

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  14. I was going to go on and on about the bookshop, because let me tell you, that just made my list of must! see! before! I! die! but then I realised you saw the Harry Potter castle!!

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  15. I had heard of Barter Books before but I don't think I had ever seen pictures. Wow. Just...wow. It really does seem too good to be true, the kind of place you dream of but never dare to hope actually exists!

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  16. Please excuse me while I just sit here and weep and pee my pants over the fact that my life will not be complete unless I see this bookstore and the place where Harry Potter was filmed. Woe is me!

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  17. I not managed to pay a visit to Barter Books yet, but I so want to! :)

    Looks like you had a great weekend as well.

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  18. I want to own this bookstore. In fact, I want to live in it!

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  19. Oh my, I do believe I'm drooling...lol What a treasure. And the castle...amazing.
    Fantastic post..a big thank you!!

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  20. Oh. My. God. How badly did you want to stay an extra day just to spend it in Barter Books? Ummm, yeah, Newcastle is a must add to our dream trip! Care to go back with us after you show us the sights of Manchester? :D

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  21. Oh my goodness, these pictures are awesome, Ana! I'd love to go to that bookstore, and the Alnwick Castle too!!

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  22. Wow. Just, wow. That is possibly the most beautiful bookstore I have ever seen. I kept a dream journal for a while and discovered that the two commonly recurring motifs in my dreams are trains and book sales. I seriously have reread this post twice to check whether it is possibly a dream I am having. It seems much more likely to be a dream than reality except that it's in Northumberland and I am not.

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  23. Ana, I am convinced that heaven is a book shop, and it looks just like that! Thanks for sharing these wonderful pictures with us!

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  24. "an entire train station full of used books"

    And here's where I started drooling. Train stations! Books! BOOKS IN TRAIN STATIONS. It's like all of my dreams come true!

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  25. Who knew Nortumberland had so much going for it. ;-) That bookstore looks like a wonderful place to spend a few days.

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  26. Wow! That would be an awesome place for a book lover to visit!

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  27. OH. My. GOD Ana!! I think I could spend a couple of days in that bookstore! I'm scared of how much money I would spend there, lol. It's amazing. All of these pictures are breathtaking :) Looks like you had a fantastic time! And that picture of the Angel statue reminds me of A Fine and Private Place :)

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  28. I love Barter Books, which is not far from where I live. I always find good books there and the cafe does lovely toasted teacakes.

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  29. Keep the recommendations coming! I have this trip in my head I've been planning for years: me, a rented car, the English countryside and an orgy of bookshops and other literary sites :)

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  30. I lived in Alnwick when this opened and over years I was there saw it grow most my books from here ,I loved my hours spent there also lived just by castle in a flat such wonderful town I hope to goo back there one day ,all the best stu

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  31. Well.. that trip was worth it all!!! Unbelievable book store! Harry Potter's "Hogwarts"..and spectacular views! I hope all of the experience remains with you forever! It's all too gorgeous!

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  32. Hi, I'm a first-time commenter. I just wanted to say that the bookshop looks amazing! And also to thank you, because I'm going to the Newcastle area next month, and now have some really good ideas for places to visit. :)

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  33. Wow! I could get lost in there for days. Thanks for posting the photos, Nymeth.

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  34. That place looks AMAZING! I want to go there now!

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  35. Thanks so much for posting this. I want to go there too... So marvelous.

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  36. Wow! I don't know what I can say that everyone else hasn't already, but that is a fantastic looking bookstore. The rest of your trip looks fab too!

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  37. I LOVE THIS POST! The pictures got me practically gaping and drooling. The bookshop! The books! The interior. Oh wow. Thanks for this wonderful, wonderful post.

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  38. LOL - I am trying very hard NOT to visit Barter Books because it's less than an hour to get there and if we go we will spend the ENTIRE week's housekeeping on books (again...)

    Glad you enjoyed it though!

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  39. LOL - I am trying very hard NOT to visit Barter Books because it's less than an hour to get there and if we go we will spend the ENTIRE week's housekeeping on books (again...)

    Glad you enjoyed it though!

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  40. Love all the pictures you posted! That castle is putting me in mood for some Harry Potter. That bookstore looks seriously awesome!

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  41. Oh, I think I could live in that bookstore. So amazing. Love the pics. Thanks for sharing!

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  42. What an awesome bookshop. I wouldn't want to leave! :)

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  43. What a marvelous and magical bookshop that is! How lucky for you to have been able to spend time there.

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  44. I am drooling over the photos of that bookshop. I love the quotes that span the aisles! What a lovely place! wish I could go there.

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  45. Wow that place looks magical. I would love to visit.

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  46. Gosh Barter Books looks amazing. You're so lucky to have visited it!

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Thank you so much for taking the time to comment - interaction is one of my favourite things about blogging and a huge part of what keeps me going.