Vulpes Libris

A collective of bibliophiles talking about books. Book Fox (vulpes libris): small bibliovorous mammal of overactive imagination and uncommonly large bookshop expenses. Habitat: anywhere the rustle of pages can be heard.

A Vulpes Random in praise of ….

Istanbul-Bookshop… mainstream high street booksellers that stock the books of difficult-to-find independent publishers.

I was in a small London branch of a well-known British bookshop chain the other day (thank heaven we still have bookshop chains in the UK, though not as many as we used to), and was looking for a Christmas present to post to Australia. It’s not easy buying presents for people who say ‘oh, just an Amazon voucher or a garden centre voucher will do, don’t worry about me’, because this completely does away with half the pleasure of Christmas: buying presents for other people that are a joy to buy, and carry an anticipated joy when we think of them receiving it (with equal joy, one hopes).  I’m also avoiding spending money with Amazon at the moment (their tax avoidance policy is now notorious, but see other reasons here, and here), and I loathe giving vouchers as presents. Solid, dewrappable gifts, bought in a local shop that employs people at a liveable wage, are much better.

So I was looking for a book. Maddeningly, I couldn’t find a book, because unquenchable doubt kept drowning any flickers of enthusiasm for the titles in Fiction, Cookery, Gardening, Humour (god help me) or Travel. And then I turned a corner, and Lo! A tall set of shelves labelled Independent Publishers, packed with a very large number of the non-standard spine heights and unusually well-made and beautifully designed publications of Capuchin Classics, Slightly Foxed, and three or four other imprints I wasn’t familiar with.

I browsed for half an hour, bought several for me …. and ended up buying the Australia present in a different shop somewhere else. But I would never have bought my new haul of Independent Publishers’ titles if it had not been for the very enlightened and independent-minded buyer for that chain store in Covent Garden.

Kate podcasts about books she can’t stop writing about, at

She would also very much like to visit the bookshop in the photo, borrowed with thank from

About Kate

Blogger, lecturer, podcaster, writer, critic, reviewer, researcher, and publisher (, in and on British literary history. Preferred occupation while listening to podcasts: cooking or knitting. Preferred soundtrack while reading: the sound of silence.

3 comments on “A Vulpes Random in praise of ….

  1. kaggsysbookishramblings
    December 4, 2013

    Oh, I wish my local chain would stock more of these! It does have the odd one or two tucked in with the fiction shelves, but not enough for my liking, and it would be that kind of book that would draw me into them. I try to buy direct from smaller publishers if I can, and the best bookshops I’ve seen for independent publishers (outside of London) is Beehive Books in Norwich which had a whole floor – sections for Persephone, NYRB, Pushkin Press etc – lovely! It was very hard to choose……

  2. Simon T
    December 4, 2013

    This deserves praise indeed! What a lovely find.

  3. thewanderingscot
    December 4, 2013

    I am pleased to say that I have visited that bookstore in Istanbul (it specializes in nautical books) and have maintained a friendship (via Facebook) with the man we met who was working there at the time. I didn’t buy any books because…well, they were all written in Turkish and I don’t speak the language, but I did find some nice nautical posters which are now framed in my library at home.

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This entry was posted on December 4, 2013 by in Articles, Entries by Kate, Vulpes Randoms.



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  • (The header image is from Aesop's Fables, illustrated by Francis Barlow (1666), and appears courtesy of the Digital and Multimedia Center at the Michigan State University Libraries.)
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