Last Sunday I went to the most magnificent book “shop” of all time and I want to share the beauty of it all with you. It’s unlike anything I’ve (and probably you’ve) ever experienced and it was A M A Z I N G.
What I’m talking about is a well-kept secret, only known to me thanks to my wonderful nan who was looking for a book club when she moved to a new town. It’s called 66 Book Club, and it’s in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire.
Throughout the year it’s only open 1 weekend of the month, but closer to Christmas it opens for 2 weekends. The gist of this place is simply that it’s a warehouse… full of about 15,000 books… and they’re all 70% off! No catch… EVERYTHING 70% off. The books may be dusty, but they’re all new and there are simply thousands of them.
My first visit experience
I drove about an hour to get to 66 Book Club, so I spent a good amount of time travelling and obviously I was nervous thinking is it going to be worth it? As it’s in a warehouse, it is in the middle of an industrial estate, wedged in next to the local recycling centre, it’s a bit of a bizarre location and can seem a little daunting initially. When I first pulled up, I was astonished by the size of the building but I thought surely that whole building isn’t full of books!
When you go into the ‘reception’, you’re met by the two guys that own the place who have school-fayre-like tables set up. Since it was my first time there, I had to get my yearly membership, but at only £2 it doesn’t break the bank. In fact, the guy that served me even said I didn’t need to pay for the membership straight up if I’d rather have a look around and make sure I found some books I wanted.
There are baskets at the door when you first go in and then you make your way into the mammoth room filled with rows upon rows of books. Initially, I was totally overwhelmed, it’s difficult to even know where to start looking! What makes it more complex is that the books aren’t in any order, in one row you might find horror, YA and cookbooks.
One thing to note, when I contacted 66 Book Club to begin with, I asked what kind of stuff they stocked and this was the response:
We have most categories of books on two warehouse floors: Art, Mind, body spirit, coffee table books, Cookery books, gardening books, sports books and a huge range of children’s books. We also have a good range of fiction; many genres and twentieth century classics. We don’t have the current best sellers. We don’t have academic books.
I wasn’t that worried about getting any bestsellers but when I got there, the first book I put in my basket was The Tattooist of Auschwitz! Seems like a pretty popular, well selling book! Not to mention I picked up a Millenium series book too!
After a good hour of working my way through all the rows in the downstairs section, I made my way upstairs. I didn’t think anything else could shock me, but rounding the corner at the top of the stairs, I was greeted by what felt like an even bigger room of books! Again, no order, just walk through each row and hope to find something good. The craziest thing is you’ll think you’ve done all the rows and then you’ll find a hidden away mini row you might have passed before!
When my basket was full to the brim, I decided to take a minute and look through everything I’d picked up to see if I really wanted them all. I ended up leaving a couple of books out in the end (there’s no way you’d remember which row each book came from, so there were a lot of random book piles left here and there)!
Going back downstairs, I had one last look down a couple of aisles, bumped into another bookstagrammer who had seen my stories and decided to make the trip (which was very, very cool!), and then went out to the reception area to pay.
As said before, there are literally just two guys running this thing, so there was a little bit of a wait to pay, but in the grand scheme of things, it was not a problem at all! The guy added all the RRP’s up in a calculator and the total came to £140 (queue stomach plummeting and heart rate speeding up) and then he removed the 70% and the grand total came to £44! I reminded him that I needed to pay for my membership too and he said “ahh, we’ll make it £45 then” so I got my annual membership for just £1!
I came away with 14 books, 12 for me, and 2 as gifts, for just £45 which makes each book around £3.20 each! I picked up a mix of hardback and paperback for this bargain!
Tips before you go
- It’s only open one weekend a month – keep an eye on their Facebook Page for dates!
- Don’t go in looking for a specific book! There’s just too much going on in there that looking for one thing, in particular, will take away all the fun!
- Do go in with a slight idea of what kind of books you’re looking for – I went in knowing I wanted some more nonfiction and so I kept my eye out for that, you then pick up other stuff along the way!
- You can pay by cash or card, but I think there might be a minimum sale price on the card machine.
- Don’t worry if you forget a bag. They provide bags or boxes to carry the books to your car!
- Keep an eye out for damage on books! They’re sat on the shelves for God knows how long and some of them have some cover or spine damage – especially triple check hardcover sleeves as I saw a lot of ripped ones (I even accidentally picked one up myself!)
That’s all for this post, whew, that’s a lot of information to take in!
(apologies about the blurry photos, I took screenshots from my Instagram Stories)