Richard Booth’s Bookshop
By all accounts, Richard Booth was an absolute character. After turning the old Hay-on-Wye fire station into a secondhand bookshop in 1966, Booth encouraged others to join him in his literary efforts. Eventually and over time, dozens of secondhand bookstores opened as a result. With stock coming in from American universities and libraries, Booth eventually opened The Richard Booth Bookshop, which became his flagship store.
By 1977, Hay was renown as “the Town of Books” and Booth declared the village to be an independent kingdom. He crowned himself as the King of Hay, with his official name as Richard Coeur de Livre. This literally translates to Bookheart and is a play on Richard I’s nickname, Richard Cœur de Lion. Most hilariously, Booth also proclaimed horse to be the Prime Minister. The villagers were so in on the joke that passports were issued as a running gag. Eventually, Booth was awarded the MBE. Shortly after, he sold his original shop with the intent to move to Germany but instead opened a new bookshop in the area called The King of Hay.
Richard Booth has since passed away, but you can still visit one of the spots that started it all. Today, Richard Booth’s Bookshop offers three floors of new and used books, a cinema, and a small café.