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A Bookstore of One’s Own

Each year perhaps a half-dozen more books join the list, so that there are now 132 in all. All are still in print, and all are still for sale, each for a flat 13 pounds (if you’re ordering from the United States, they’re $20 apiece); every time the new titles arrive, the old books are moved a bit and the shelves reorganized to make way.

After a few seasons as just a publisher, Persephone became a bookstore, too, leaving its old office in Clerkenwell and expanding into its current space. It is both office and shop, one purpose blending into the other across two rooms.

Overall, the shop’s most popular author is a woman named Dorothy Whipple, who has an impressive 10 books on the list, Persephones No. 3, 19, 40, 56, 74, 85, 95, 110, 118, and 127. Her books are funny and spirited and full of insight about real people’s lives at the time.

“I like books that tell me how we lived,” Beauman said. “I’m very, very interested in the novel as social history.” Also, she said: “Good writing is important to me, and that’s why we only have 132 books.”

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