Entering the foyer of KampungBuku Malaysia Melaka, you will see some information boards on the right depicting the history and origin of book villages round the world and the founder of the International Organisation of Booktowns (IOB), Mr. Richard Booth, MBE.
Recently, KampungBuku welcomed a visit from Mr. Booth and his entourage and hosted lunch for them at the Botanical cafÃ© in Ayer Keroh. We were very honoured and proud to show Mr. Booth around our premises and give him a briefing on the current activities and development. Most people have not heard of Richard Booth and have no inkling of his connection to KampungBuku. He is, to put it very simply, a very famous man in literary circles and has acquired some sort of an infamous reputation that has no doubt contributed to his popularity. After all, not many people can claim fame by being listed in the 1982 issue of The Worldâ€™s Greatest Cranks and Crackpots.
A Google search done on Richard Booth reveals quite a lot of interesting material and images on the man and his world famous bookshop in Hay-on-Wye. We wonâ€™t attempt to re-write what has already been written, so weâ€™ll just take the easy way out and post the most relevant articles gleaned from the web. Readers are encouraged to search the web for more extensive reading should they want to find out more about him. You can also visit Richard Boothâ€™s Bookshop â€“ Europeâ€™s Largest Secondhand Bookshop at www.richardbooth.demon.co.uk
Hereâ€™s what was obtained from Wikipedia:-
Richard George William Pitt Booth, MBE (born September 12, 1938 in Hay-on-Wye, Wales), is a Welsh bookseller, known for his contribution to the success of Hay-on-Wye as a centre for second-hand bookselling. He is also the self-proclaimed “King of Hay”.
He was educated at Rugby School and the University of Oxford. He then opened a second-hand bookshop in Hay-on-Wye, in the old fire station, and his example was followed by others, so that by the 1970s Hay had become internationally known as the “Town of Books”.
On April 1, 1977, Richard Booth proclaimed Hay an “independent kingdom” with himself as king Richard CÅ“ur de Livre and his horse as Prime Minister. The publicity stunt gained extensive news coverage, and resulted in several spin-offs such as “passports” being issued.
On April 1, 2000, Booth followed up with an investiture of “The Hay House of Lords” and created 21 new hereditary peers for the “Kingdom of Hay”.
The Hay Literary Festival was another spin-off from the burgeoning number of bookshops in the town, which now gets an estimated 500,000 tourists a year. In recognition of his services to tourism, Richard Booth was awarded the MBE in the 2004 New Year’s Honours List. In August 2005, Richard Booth announced that he was selling his Hay bookshop and moving to Germany. As of September 2009 the bookshop remains under the King of Hay’s control.
He married his second wife Hope Stuart, a former freelance photographer, in the 1980s. In 1999, he published his autobiography, “My Kingdom of Books”, with the help of his stepdaughter Lucia Stuart.
Booth stood as for the Socialist Labour Party in the Wales constituency at the European Parliament election, 2009.
Hereâ€™s another article from www.bbc.co.uk
Self-proclaimed King of Hay and creator of the world’s first Book Town.
12 SEP 1938
Place of Birth:
Richard George William Pitt Booth lives in Hay Castle and is credited with transforming the town into a global attraction for second-hand book lovers.
Richard Booth’s family have lived in the Hay area for more than a hundred years. The son of a garage mechanic, Richard Booth attended Rugby school and Oxford University. After graduating, he decided to return to his Mid Wales roots.
In 1961, he opened his first second-hand bookshop in Hay, shipping in hundreds of books from across the globe. Booth was convinced that a town full of book stores could become an international attraction – “you buy books from all over the world and your customers come from all over the world”.
Where he led, others followed and there are now almost 40 bookshops in the town – many of which set up shop in buildings which had been long neglected. Richard Booth’s first store, for example, was housed in the Old Fire Station.
By the late 1970s, Hay had become the world’s first official Book Town. There are now more than 60 Book Towns across the globe with plans for several more.
On 1 April 1977, Richard Booth proclaimed Hay an Independent Kingdom and he was crowned King and Ruler of the new state. His horse was named Prime Minister. It was a stunt which earned Hay worldwide publicity.
April Fool’s Day 2000 saw Richard Booth organise another event which gained mass media attention. In the State Room of Hay Castle, he held an investiture of The Hay House of Lords and created 21 new hereditary peers for the Kingdom of Hay.
As Hay’s reputation as a mecca for book-lovers grew, so too did the idea for an annual book celebration and in 1988, the first ever Hay Literary Festival was held.
Under the direction of Peter Florence, the week-long festival now brings in around 70,000 visitors every year and attracts some of the biggest names on the circuit. In 2002, former US President Bill Clinton was the star speaker. He described Hay-on-Wye as “my kind of town” and likened the festival to a “Woodstock of the mind.”
Other speakers in recent years have included authors Beryl Bainbridge, Louis de Bernieres, Margaret Atwood, Germaine Greer, Bill Bryson and Ian McEwan as well as performers Paul McCartney and Van Morrisson.
It’s estimated that the Literary Festival pumps more than Â£3million into the local economy but it’s not just during the week-long event that Hay on Wye attracts visitors. The town now gets around 500,000 tourists a year and in recognition of his services to tourism in Powys, Richard Booth was awarded an MBE in the 2004 Queen’s New Year’s Honours.
To view recent pictures of Richard Booth and his visit to KampungBuku Malaysia Melaka, find us on Facebook or go to the link below:-