Since starting this project some months ago, Troutmark Books was high, very high, on my to-do list. One of the stalwarts of the Castle Arcade, it has been present in the city far longer than I have and I’ve often found myself wandering around it on a wet afternoon looking for something to pique my interest.
So it was with much joy that I visited a couple of weeks ago and got to chatting with owner Ceri who was sitting behind the desk. So easy to talk to, you get the impression that Troutmark Books is a place you could just stop by for a chat while picking up a cheap book, magazine, comic or two.
Rows upon rows, upon rows, greet your eyes as soon as you walk through the door and it can be a little tricky knowing where to start. Handily though, it’s all sectioned and alphabetised so you can lose yourself in whatever your interest may be, whether that’s language (Welsh or otherwise), science fiction or even for your more obscure forays into Russian literature. Troutmark Books has it all. Personally, one of my favourite sections was the antique/old children’s books near the entrance. Maybe it’s the bright colours, the fantastic titles or just plain old reminiscence that attracts me.
Troutmark Books has been trading for around 15 years ago. The premises its on has a long history of selling books. If you’re privileged enough as I was to visit the staff toilet (oh yes, I get all the perks writing for this site) you’ll be lucky enough to find an old newspaper article taped to the door with clues to Troutmark’s past.
Sadly, Ceri had to take out the original spiral staircase from the shop out as it presented a health hazard to the public (boo…. mind you spiral staircases do terrify me a little bit) but if you do wander upstairs you’ll find a wonderful cavern of geekdom that left me a little bit excited and not knowing where to start. Marvel comics (and DC et al), Mad magazine, Terry Pratchett, Doctor Who, Star Wars, Star Trek, you name it and it’s probably up here. There’s even a handly little table and chairs for you to peruse the goods (who could ask for anything more).
Ceri tells me that he usually prefers to take a backseat in manning the shop, instead spending most of his time on the lookout for books and stock to add to the shop. He enjoys meeting the people, but tells me there are sad times, for instance if a collection of books is available because someone has passed away. On the whole though, even during my brief chat with him it was clear his love for the written word.
Of course the biggest threat to a shop like this is online, especially places where cheap books can be picked up like eBay. I can’t deny I’ve bought the odd book off eBay before, but it’s worth bearing in mind that by the time you’ve paid postage costs you’re probably unlikely to be saving that much money. I’ll be back to Troutmark Books soon to have a look around and see what unlikely treasures take my eye – you wouldn’t get that experience online.
Anyway, before we descend to far into “boo, hiss, online retailers” talk, it’s time to introduce the pictures. I had a lot of fun shooting these, you might not think there’s that much you can do with rows and rows of books, but I gave it a good go…. let me know what you think in the comments box below!