A NEW CHAPTER DAWNS FOR RICHMOND
Richmond has become a focus of attention in recent months with an influx of several newcomers who have added a new wave of excitement to the little village. Long forgotten by tourists on their journey to the Cape, Richmond is about to become the BOOKTOWN of South Africa
What is a Booktown?
The idea of a Booktown was conceived up by the maverick Richard Booth back in the sixties. His dream was to create the largest second-handbook-selling centre in the world. Today, Hay-on Wye in Wales attracts over a million tourists a year. Today, Hay-on Wye has 38 bookshops, and the idea of Booktown is to be found in over 25 countries in the world. The Booktown in Richmond will now mean that there exists a Booktown on every continent of the world.
If you think that Richmond with it's handful of booksellers can never succeed with their dream of a Booktown, it is worth noting that Booth started it all off by himself, with just one bookshop! Slowly he bought up the empty buildings in a town whose population was dwindling, and turned these buildings into bookshops. Booth always maintained that 'a town full of bookshops could be an international attraction'.
A Booktown is a small rural area, usually a small town or village with a concentration of booksellers, mainly second-handand antiquarian bookshops.The bookshops are often twinned with coffee shops, internet cafes or with artistic enterprises such as paper production, calligraphy, book design, book illustration and the dwindling art of bookbinding. Many of these bookshops also sell arts and crafts in their shops.
The goal of Booktowns to resurrect the flagging economies of towns, to revitalize a neglected region by developing a local book-based economy with a definite tourist dimension. Most Booktown develop around villages of historic significance or of scenic beauty.
Richmond in the Karoo, the 'land of thirst', long scorned by travellers, is fast attaining the status of one of the most romantic destinations in South Africa, with it's vast open spaces, clean air and starry night skies offering the perfect antidote to city dwellers choked lifestyles. As a result of Booktown Richmond, many of the village's older buildings, saddened by decades without human companionship, have come back to life again as thriving bookshops. The growth of Booktown Richmond has contributed immensely to the conservation of the cultural and architectural heritage of the little dorp.
In only its early stage of growth Booktown Richmond can already boast three quality booksellers. At the top of Loop Street is "Richmond Books and Prints", with an excellent array of Africana, sports and history books on offer. Right next door you will find "Richmond Book Emporium" which carries a particularly eclectic mix of books and other sundries. They have deep comfortable chairs, which, with a book and cuppa in hand, are a recipe for a very contented morning in the Karoo.