Sunday, October 12, 2014
Most of the bookshops were concentrated in large cites, such as London. Here’s a list of booksellers in London, with their specialties: http://www.londonancestor.com/leighs/books.htm
Some booksellers kept libraries, and some had Reading Rooms only.
Two of the best known Regency libraries are Hatchard's and Hookham's. Hatchard’s, which figures most prominently in Regency romances and still exists today at its Regency location of 187 Piccadilly, had a Reading Room, while Hookham’s had both a Reading Room and a circulating library.
Libraries were not for the poor. Hookham’s yearly fee for taking out twelve books was forty-two shillings (two guineas, or two pounds, two shillings), about $150 in today’s money. Part of the large fee was due to Hookham’s location in high-priced Mayfair, but some was also due to the cost of books. Books were expensive, thanks being made from rags and also to a tax on paper, and only the well-heeled could afford to buy or borrow.
Here’s Hookham’s library catalog: http://books.google.com/books/about/A_catalogue_of_Hookham_s_circulating_lib.html?id=WJYIAAAAQAAJ
Here’s Hookham’s ad for its library: http://quod.lib.umich.edu/e/ecco/004773836.0001.000/1:4?rgn=div1;view=fulltext
Top picture is of the British Museum Reading Room, from Wikipedia