I fell into out of print bookselling back in 1995. I was living in Sarf London and used to have singing lessons with Sophie who lived nearby. She was married to Nigel Williams and he had just moved his postal book business into Cecil Court, off central London’s Charing Cross Road.
My first credit in a book catalogue!
The shop was called Nigel Williams Rare Books and specialised in Modern First Editions, including Crime Fiction plus Sherlock Holmes and P.G. Wodehouse. I’d always loved bookshops but this was my first taste of the rare book world and I was entranced. I loved the language of antiquarian book cataloguing and the thrill of handling scarce titles.
A year or so after starting out as the Downstairs Assistant I started managing Nigel’s second Cecil Court shop, a specialist out of print Children’s bookshop. Before I go on I must explain the nickname of Downstairs Assistant bestowed on me by a disgruntled would-be bookseller who wrote a letter of complaint about me to Nigel. It covered many pages and was handwritten in green ink if I remember rightly.
Dear ol’ Cecil Court. Photo: by me in 2001.
Cecil Court was built in the 17th century and remains steeped in cultural history. Mozart stayed there and at the turn of the 20th century, it was known as Flicker Alley due to links with early cinema. Soon after writers including Walter de la Mare, Rupert Brooke and Edward Thomas used to visit the tea rooms at number 24. The street has been linked to antiques and bookselling since WW2.
I spent about six years on and off working for Nigel and also Marchpane, the specialist children’s bookshop a few doors down this pedestrianised street. I enjoyed star spotting famous customers including Whoopi Goldberg, David Suchet, several members of the Fast Show, Dylan Moran, David Walliams, Neil Tennant, Andy Summers of The Police and more.
When I wasn’t star spotting I was dreaming up nicknames with my colleagues for Cecil Court regulars. The ones I can repeat are Rude Ron and Man with Dog. When the Man’s dog died we changed his nickname to Man without Dog.
Every catalogue I issued had a cool cover.
In 1998 I started trading as Cusack Books. It was an online business specialising in TV, Film and Rock Music-related books and memorabilia. I used to enjoy getting out of London to buy stock from charity shops and car boots sales. I ended up representing South London in a business award and was inevitably one of the runners up to winners, Innocent Drinks from West London. You might have heard of them.
For over 20 years I’ve dipped in and out of trading as a bookseller. Sometimes I’ve worked full-time on the bookselling and at other times in my life it’s been a second stream of income.
When I moved back to the North East in 2009, I fell into bookselling once again. I worked for Keel Row Bookshop in North Shields and shared a stall with Bransdown Books at Tynemouth station’s weekend market for a couple of years. Around this time I also helped Ylana First run Tynemouth Book Fair four times a year.
I’m currently building up my online stock list here. If you have any specific book wants then please let me know. I’m also keen to buy books so contact me if you have any to sell. Ta.
And finally… I’m the indie indie bookseller, don’t ya know? I’m an independent bookseller who catalogues her precious stock to an indie soundtrack.#indieindiebookseller
Happy memories of long, unpredictable but enjoyable days at Tynemouth market and Book Fair with David Franks, Ylana First and Jennifer Copping.