The British Museum in London is a true mecca for lovers of world history and archaeology. This summer, exhibitions at the museum range from The Vikings: life and legend, to Ming: 50 years that changed China. Books and souvenirs are available in the museum shops, where carefully selected publications offer visitors the opportunity to learn more about what they have seen, long after their visit is over.
For June 2014 YaleBooks has selected the British Museum Bookshop as our ‘Bookshop of the Month’. We went along to the museum and talked to Luca Priolo, book buyer for the Museum shops, to find out more about an exciting new bookshop that will open in The British Museum this summer.
YaleBooks: Tell us a bit about the new shop – what’s appealing about it?
Luca Priolo: I’m delighted that the British Museum bookshop will be reopened on 19th June in the Great Court where it will be at the very heart of the museum, easily seen by all of our visitors who we hope will enjoy browsing our exciting new range of books. The new bookshop will be bright, spacious and modern, offering a selection of titles that is relevant to the vast collection of the British Museum.
YaleBooks: What has inspired you to sell books?
Luca Priolo: I started buying books for the British Museum bookshops and exhibition shops in 2008 at the time of the Hadrian exhibition, after a brief interlude at the Natural History Museum as a bookseller. What inspired me to become a bookseller was the many hours spent in my local bookshop in Italy when I was a teenager, where I was allowed to read, and encouraged – by the extremely knowledgeable bookseller there – to explore the packed shelves.
YaleBooks: Can you describe your earliest memory of reading?
Luca Priolo: One of my first memories of reading on my own is when I was about 7 years old, sitting close to a coal stove to ward off the cold temperatures of the pre-Alps winters. The book which offered me that ‘magic experience’ was Antoine De Saint-Exupery’s The Little Prince, a book that I still recommend to anyone – it is my favourite book ever.
YaleBooks: Any other favourite books?
Luca Priolo: The Little Prince is the one that allowed me to have the first true flight of imagination; from the static words on the page to the amazing possibilities of different worlds. Choosing others is very difficult but I would certainly mention Capote’s The Grass Harp, Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose and Keep Calm and Carry On!
YaleBooks: Job satisfaction?
Luca Priolo: Selecting the books to offer customers at the British Museum is a challenging and humbling experience, but also very rewarding.
To keep an eye on what’s new at the British Museum Bookshop, find it on twitter: @BMshop
Main photo: Luca is holding a copy of The Anglo Saxon World by Nicholas Higham, published by Yale University Press.