Shadow Lines

Nicholas Royle


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Salt Publishing
15 March 2024
ISBN: 9781784633073
240 pages

From the publisher

The Bookseller Season Highlight for Spring/Summer 2024

Nicholas Royle’s love of second-hand books and the ‘inclusions’ he finds inside them, their presence betrayed by ‘shadow lines’, is about making connections. Someone has scribbled a number in a book? He’ll text or call. An old address? He’ll return the book to where it used to live. Follow him as he walks between bookshops, reading as he goes, on the hunt for treasure, for ways to make us feel closer – to the books on our shelves, to each other and to our own lives.

Share in Royle’s enthusiasm for the Rev W Awdry’s Railway Series, Penguin Modern Stories and Paul Auster’s cult classic, The New York Trilogy, as well as books in art and film.


‘What keeps this assortment of reflections and reminiscences hanging together is Royle’s delightful accounts of his trips to charity and secondhand bookshops across the UK: Goldmark Books in Uppingham; George Kelsall Booksellers in Littleborough; Southend; Coventry; Wigtown in Scotland. Over the years, Royle has been everywhere. White Spines is a sort of Bill Bryson for book lovers, wry, cosy and full of amusing asides and lovely cameos.’ —Ian SansomThe Spectator

‘This summer’s must-read for all book lovers.’ —The Irish Times

‘It is Royle’s knowledge and ability to write with enthusiasm that draws the reader in. An enjoyable window into the life of an unapologetic collector. A call to appreciate books for more than their words.’ —Jackie Lawneverimitate

‘Light, breezy, and impossible to put down. It’s a beautifully made book, replicating the classic Picador style (a brave move from Salt!). All of which makes it a book that’s well worth collecting.’ —Joe DarlingtonManchester Review of Books

‘This book is many things: a travelogue, a guide book, a history of a significant imprint, and a slender autobiography … The covers of his Knut Hamsun’s lead into reflections on art and publishing. He is as happy explaining how key figures, such as Sonny Mehta and Peter Straus worked with the Picador imprint, as finding a new bookshop or a book that he didn’t know was a white spine … As bookselling has become overshadowed by Waterstones, Nick reminds us that second hand bookshops are an important part of our literary culture and that an affordable library is not out of the reach of anyone. The last couple of pages include a defence of fiction that is as surprising as it is profound, worth the price of the book alone.’ —Richard CleggBookmunch