A Visit To Leakey’s

I spent last week in Scotland visiting my old friend Stuart who lives in a beautiful little fishing village called Rosehearty which is located around 45 miles north of Aberdeen. During this time, my genial host took me to several areas of outstanding beauty and jaw-dropping scenery which acted as a perfect escape from the rather stressful business of mentally preparing myself for my new job. One of his excursions included a trip to Inverness for a fine lunch of haggis, neeps and tatties followed by a visit to Leakey’s Bookshop on Church Street.

Leakeys Exterior

Leakey’s is Scotland’s largest secondhand bookshop and is housed in an old Gaelic church which dates back to 1793. The building houses a vast collection of books spanning all genres and also features a rather scary looking wood burning fire which heats the whole space in winter. There are bookshelves lining every available wall which extend up onto a mezzanine level accessed by cast iron spiral staircases. It truly is the bookshop that time forgot and has a magical quality about it, something sadly missing in today’s soulless corporate outlets. I really can’t recommend a visit to Leakey’s enough if you’re even remotely nearby, it’s a good job I live several hundred miles away as I’m sure I’d spend most of my free time there browsing the seemingly endless stock of vintage paperbacks.

Leakeys Interior

After a very pleasant hour of rifling through the science fiction section, I realised I had a huge stack of books on the floor in front of me and so I began to ruthlessly narrow down my selection. In the end, I left the shop with twenty six titles – a fantastic haul which cost me far less than it would have done if I had bought the same books via eBay or an online book dealer. Needless to say, I was a very happy man on the long drive back to Rosehearty that afternoon.

I’ve had a fantastic break thanks to Stuart (who incidentally runs a rather good Sci-Fi/horror blog called The Fifth Dimension) and travelled home with a much heavier suitcase than the one I took with me. I’ll spare you the holiday snaps (as fabulous as they are) and share a small selection of tasty book covers from my latest stash instead;

The Time Machine by H.G. Wells

I’ve been looking for the 11th printing of this title from 1974 for a while now and was incredibly lucky to find a copy in extremely good condition despite being almost forty years old. The reason I wanted this particular version was because of the wonderfully psychedelic Ian Miller cover art.

HG Wells Time Machine

Things edited by Ivan Howard

I missed out on winning this anthology on eBay a few months ago, it sold for three times the price I paid for it at Leakey’s. This is a Mayflower Dell publication from 1965 and contains six shorts from the likes of Poul Anderson, James Blish and Damon Knight. The cover artist is uncredited but the painting is signed ‘Jacks’.


Anthologies are great to collect, especially the early magazine style publications of the sixties of which I have a number. These two books have a couple of things in common; they both contain shorts by J.G. Ballard which would eventually end up in The Atrocity Exhibition and they were both published in the year I was born.

New Worlds, April 1966 edited by Michael Moorcock

Published by Roberts & Vitner Ltd, this collection features Ballard’s The Assassination Weapon in addition to short stories by Moorcock and John Brunner among others. The cover is uncredited.

New Worlds 1966

Impulse, March 1966 edited by Karl Bonfiglioni

This is another Roberts & Vitner publication and contains shorts by the likes of James Blish, Poul Anderson and Brian Aldiss. Ballard contributes You and Me and the Continuum. I initially grabbed this one because of the brilliant cover painting by Judith Ann Lawrence which features yet another human skull to add to my collection.

Impulse 1966

It’s fair to say that I’m slightly obsessed with Penguin Sci-Fi books of the sixties and seventies and so I always tend to keep an eye open for them when I’m hunting. I never thought I’d pick up such well preserved examples of the following titles at such ridiculously low prices.

Consider Her Ways and Others by John Wyndham

This near fine collection of Wyndham short stories was published in 1965 and has a strikingly odd cover by Herbert Spencer, the founder and editor of influential design magazine Typographica.

Wyndham Consider Her Ways

Trouble with Lichen by John Wyndham

Published in 1963 with more strange cover art, this design is the work of John Griffiths.

Wyndham Trouble With Lichen



6 thoughts on “A Visit To Leakey’s

  1. lestaret 30/07/2013 / 8:18 am

    What a place! Every town should have one. Every trip an adventure – it is like a combination of a Harry Potter set combined with the excitement and expectation of a visit to the costume shop by Mr. Benn…

    Just a tad jealous, and furthermore


    • unsubscriber 31/07/2013 / 7:58 am

      It certainly is a place without equal Mr Lestaret, a veritable paradise of the printed word. I suspect that given a little more time and larger pockets I would have left this fine establishment with many more books than I actually did.


  2. Freaky Folk Tales 30/07/2013 / 6:24 pm

    What a wonderful set of books, both the books themselves and the seminal artwork. I must visit one day! Regards, Paul


    • unsubscriber 30/07/2013 / 6:28 pm

      Thanks for the comment Paul. Leakey’s is truly a must visit place for any book lover from the serious collector to the more humble browser. They serve great homemade food too but I’ve always been too busy amongst the paperbacks to sample it. The books I bought are worthy additions to the unsubscriber library, lots more great covers to come too. All the best.


      • Freaky Folk Tales 30/07/2013 / 6:38 pm

        The cover illustrations are fantastic and the bookshop is now at the top of my list! Best wishes, Paul


  3. Dispokino 16/08/2013 / 2:29 pm

    Nice finds! Seems like a great place with the right atmosphere for these kinds of books.


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