The Aardvark Blog
20 Years On
20 Years On
Incredible but true: it is now 20 years since my late business partner Edward Tobin and I founded Aardvark Books in some freezing unheated pig sheds behind a friend's house in Leominster. The pigsheds are now long gone (replaced by housing), but against all odds Aardvark Books is still here (although sadly we lost Edward 10 years ago in April).
All anniversaries are occasions for some reflection and this one is no different. If I were asked what I had learnt over the last 20 years, the only thing I could offer would be three truisms. The first is that although books are interesting, people are more interesting still and most of my best memories of Aardvark involve customers - some of whom have become friends - their likes and dislikes, their funny stories, their prejudices, hopes and dreams. My second lesson is that if one expects the worst, then one can sometimes be pleasantly surprised. There was the house in Ludlow that was filled with well thumbed ex-library books apart from one early Ian Fleming in unclipped jacket; the house in Knighton that was damp from top to bottom, but from which came some extremely valuable books on caring for metalwork. The list goes on and on. Conversely, I can think of many manor houses that yielded no more than a few dog-eared Jilly Coopers.
The final lesson I have learnt is always to say yes. Yes to the trip to a house half-way up a mountain which yielded wonderful fiction books. Yes to being in charge of books at Ludlow and other food festivals. Yes to offering people a job based on no more than a handshake and a good first impression. Some of these yeses have come back to bite me, but in the main they have worked out well.
I cannot be expected to be granted another 20 years of running Aardvark Books (I think my back would give up even from the thought), but even with hindsight I can think of no better way to have spent those decades. So thanks to all of you who have bought from Aardvark in the shop or online, to the band of heroes who have worked in the madness of a busy bookshop, and to those who have sold or given me their much-loved books, so that they could find new homes as 'livres retrouvees'. What a gas it has all been!
Published by Aardvark Books Ltd on (modified )
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