Book Shop Oddities

The sound of cracked pages turning in a second hand book shop has always felt slightly magical to me.

Cardiff has some fantastic second hand book shops. I ventured into Capital Books and Troutmark Books to see what odd tit-bits I could find in the Welsh capitals literary haunts.

Capital Books

Capital Books in Morgan Arcade

For years I have been fascinated by one peculiar item in Capital Books. On the second floor is a really old cone-shaped fire extinguisher. I first saw it four years ago and now whenever I walk past I always drag friends in to “show them the weird old fire extinguisher”.

So I wandered in earlier and asked the owner all about it. He told me: “It was here when I bought the place, I think it’s probably from the 1950’s or the 1960’s.”

As I walked upstairs to grab a picture of the odd extinguisher the book-shop owner shouted after me: “I can’t really see why you’re interested in that, we have a ghost downstairs and a world war two bomb shelter…”

The weird old fire extinguisher.

I raced back down, this sounded like a tale, so I settled in waiting for the book shopkeeper to spin me a yarn.

He told me that the basement of the shop was used as an air raid shelter during the Second World War.

Then he told me the ghost story: “There is a passage which runs all the way through the arcade. In the 1950’s a workman was down there making electrical repairs when he saw a ghostly figure.

“He peered down the passage-way and realised that it was the ghost of a police man.”

That was all the owner knew of the ghostly police man story, however if anyone knows the full tale of the police-ghost in the Morgan Arcade, Cardiff please get in touch.

Troutmark Books.

I love Troutmark Books, I have spent many an afternoon running my fingers over cracked spines and well-worn paper-backs in this pokey Castle Arcade book-shop.

When out looking for odd stories in this shop I went to the bottom floor.

Troutmark Books in Castle Arcade

I was looking at one of the shelves and couldn’t work out what was wrong with it. Then I realised. The shelf was about 40cm deep but the spines of the books on the shelf were right on the edge, something must be bolstering the books at the back.

So I reached over the books on the shelf and realised that more books were behind the ones on the shelf.

I wanted to know which works of literature had been relegated to essentially acting as part of the shops fixtures.

So I grabbed a few of the books and what I found was endless amounts of Star Trek novels.

Star Trek Books hidden behind other books.

I checked behind every shelf and sure enough hundreds to Start Trek books had been used to make sure that other books were at the front of the shelf.

I went upstairs and asked a member of staff, Jason, all about it.

Jason said: “The Star Trek books have been all over the store but we just cannot shift them. So now we just use them to prop up the books downstairs.”

So if anyone is a huge Star Trek fiction fan and is struggling to find second hand copies of the novels go and reach behind the shelves on the lower floor of Troutmark Books.

Then Jason and I talked about The Stranglers and gig venues in Cardiff, as we always do whenever I go in.

If you have seen any odd things in any of Cardiff’s incredible book shops, please share your stories below.

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