We take a trip to the south coast this month to Barton Books in the Cornish town of Penzance. We chatted to the owner, Barry, about their fabulous selection of art and illustrated works, as well as their key milestones and any other plans for the store…
1. Being based in Penzance, a beautiful area of Cornwall, and a popular holiday destination, do you find that your customers vary between locals and tourists?
I’m delighted that Barton Books is supported by local customers all year round, in what is very much an area visited by tourists. I’m lucky in that I have those extra visitors during the school holidays!
2. You mainly stock art and children’s books (as well as illustrated fiction). What enticed you to specialise in these kind of areas?
I’ve always loved art and illustrated titles, from way back when I used to buy books for Liberty, the London department store. When I opened Barton I felt strongly that I should create a space unlike any other and specialise in the books I love and which would appeal to the many creative people who live in west Cornwall or who come to visit the place which has inspired so many artists over the years. And so far it seems to be working – it certainly strikes a happy chord with the customers, who luckily for me make return journeys to the shop.
3. What has been your favourite milestone since opening your store?
I’ve enjoyed many successful and jolly events at Barton, notably with Jovan Nicholson who presented his book on his grandmother, the painter Winifred Nicholson, and who delivered a wonderful illustrated talk which fascinated and enthralled my customers, who packed out the shop.
4. Do you have any exciting plans for your store that you’d like to share here?
I’m always thinking of ideas which will hopefully make the shop stand out and, rather than diversifying too much into non-book products am planning to stock more of the kind of books which deserve to be seen and handled, such as artists’ catalogue raisonnes and monographs. I’ve had some success selling the amazing Richard Diebenkorn 4-volume boxed set, the Francis Bacon set and more recently the Peter Lanyon Complete Oil Paintings volume. These are great, important works and it’s a joy to be dealing with them!