Of all the wonderful shops in the city I love the bookshops best. In the past they congregated in Skinner Row, but now, since the mid 1770s, they have more visible presences on Dame Street and in the little courts off it. I love the way they display their new publications outside the front door or pinned to the door post. You can smell the fresh ink and feel the lovely texture of the new paper. I love the leisurely atmosphere as readers slowly work their way around the shop examining all the exciting new books and pamphlets.
Crampton Court is the ideal place to browse, hidden away from the bustle of Dame Street, you have the peace and quiet to peruse all the latest books. Luke White’s bookshop at Number 6 is the best. He stocks all the fashionable books and magazines. He imports his books from France and Switzerland so you can be sure of having the most up-to-date reading matter; my favourites are Jean-Jacques Rousseau (link to the catalogue for Rousseau) and Madame de Genlis (link to the catalogue for Madame de Genlis).
It’s great when his new catalogue of French and Italian literature comes out, you can browse it from the comfort of your home, and then go to the shop and touch and feel the exotic object that has made its way across the sea from Paris or Venice. In case you find these too expensive he prints a Dublin edition of the best sellers, which are much better value, even if they lack the cachet of the imported editions. (Check the catalogue for Luke White's publications) You can have a little flutter here as well because he sells lottery tickets. He has just moved out to Dame Street to a more high profile location and John Archer has moved into White’s old bookshop in the court at Number 18.
This is another of my favourites. Archer’s has a great range of stock too and it’s quite different from Luke White’s because he imports his books and pamphlets from different places. He has all the best sellers of course, but he’s good on London publications, as well as imports from Paris, Venice and the Netherlands. (Check the catalogue for John Archer's publications) In a room upstairs some of the intellectuals meet to read the newspapers and discuss literature, science and politics. Richard Kirwan, the chemist, is talking about forming a library society so that they can have a shared library for members. Archer issues catalogues also, they’re always crammed with the most exciting new publications, but using the catalogue does not compare with the joy of visiting the shop in person.