Sunday, January 4, 2015

Ulysses Rare Books, Dublin

First and foremost: Happy New Year!

Like many others, I experienced my first Amazon-free Christmas this year.  It was actually a lot easier than I thought it would be.  Thankfully,  when it came to looking for independent book shops I found that there were a lot more than I expected.   I'm starting off with this one because it was the bookshop (of the ones I have visited so far) that I loved being in the most.  I visited Ulysses Rare Books in the run up to Christmas and soon found that I was definitely susceptible to developing a 'thing' for collecting rare books.

It's located on Duke Street just off Grafton Street, right in the centre of the city.  A stone's throw from the National Library (which currently has an free-of-charge exhibition on Yeats which is well worth a visit).  It was originally called Cathach books - and the video below is from their website, it gives you a bit of an idea about the history of the shop and the kind of books they specialise in:

I am interested in Irish literature anyway as I study a fair bit of it on my MA course in Modern and Contemporary Literature.  In November last year I had an unforgettable seminar on Ulysses which mostly involved the tutor telling us the parts of the book which still didn't make sense to him, despite him having read it at least a hundred times.  Anyway, I digress.  My point being that whilst there are endless gems in there for somebody with an interest in 20th century Irish literature (lots of Wilde, Yeats, Joyce, Beckett - to name a few) there were also beautiful books from authors from all over the place.  I also discovered that rare books aren't as expensive as I thought they would be.  There were lots around the 20 - 50 euro mark. (It was around about this time that I had to forcibly remove myself from the shop). 

My only complaint would be that whilst I was in there I eavesdropped on a couple of customer enquiries and whilst the staff were very knowledgeable about their stock and friendly when a  customer enquired about creative writing courses in the area the staff hadn't got a clue.  Now, I appreciate that it was a book shop, but it seemed like there was a great opportunity being missed.  In a time when book shops are under threat I think a good way to drum up trade would be to establish connections between all stages of the literary process: writing, publishing, selling, and collecting - no?  What do you guys think?  Do you know of any book shops which advertise and show awareness of creative writing courses or do you think book shops should stick to selling books?  

Let me know what you think!



Francesca said...

It's good to support independent bookstores, i think the last five books i bought in 2014 were all from the Book Depository as my local bookshop just doesn't sell much outside of popular titles, which is sad!

Louise from Reads and Recipes said...

Ah that is sad! Have you tried asking your local bookshop to try stocking more unusual items or is it a chain? Chains can be a bit rubbish in that regard.

Jennifer @ This Off Script Life said...

I think yours is a great idea for small bookstores -- offering readings and writing courses are just the thing to keep people coming into the shops.

And, I struggle with Ulysses too. I recently wrote about how I'm hoping to finish it while I'm living in Zurich (Joyce wrote most of the novel here).

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