Located in Carvoeiro, delightful owner Raymond Compton has been serving the community with any book they could wish for at an affordable price, since moving to the Algarve.
The Algarve Book Cellar is easy enough to find, located on the left-hand side as you enter the ‘in’ road to Carvoeiro and what appears to be a seemingly normal shop (spread over two shops) is actually a bookworm’s haven.
I walked through the door and was greeted by Raymond Compton, who was practically engulfed by the vast collection of books piled on top of each other. My initial thought was it must be impossible to find a book in here with my next surprise being that Raymond has an extraordinary memory, which he joked was a problem for his wife.
Where time stands still
All of the books are kept in great condition and any book you could need, Raymond can find it for you in the fastest game of hide and seek I have ever seen, it is almost by magic that the book you are looking for reveals itself to Raymond. I can imagine even Roald Dahl’s Matilda struggling to finish all of the Algarve Book Cellar books as I found that time stood still as you are lost browsing through an endless selection of books, of all different genres, as the world outside passes by quickly.
The Algarve Book Cellar has many regulars, but for anyone who does not know The Algarve Book Cellar, they run a system where you can return books and get money off your next reads and if you cannot find what you are looking for, do not fear, as Raymond can have your requested book ordered in.
This second-hand bookshop has books from various genres including classics, current best sellers, sci-fi, cooking books, history, travel, gardening as well as children’s books. I asked Raymond what was his most asked for genre, in which he told me that the American Crime books are popular with male readers, whereas women seem to be more interested in English Crime.
To my delight, they have some old copies of some classics, including some Dickens classics from 1880 that caught my attention. Raymond also went on to tell me a fascinating story that “A lady once brought in some books that she didn’t want any more and I found out that they were William Shakespeare’s but there was no ‘e’ in the middle, it was mis-spelt and the reason being that they were printed in 1732. I explained to her that this set is worth well over 2,000 euros and so she took them away.”
They also have an impressive selection of books in other languages, including in French, Scandinavian, German and Dutch as well as Portuguese in which Raymond showed me his latest Portuguese series on the kings of Portugal. Asides from books, they have a great collection of CDs, DVDs and puzzles as well as cards for any occasion.
Raymond has a strong connection to the Algarve, having started coming on holiday here back in 1985 which is when they fell in love with it and moved here in December of 2001. “To me it was like going back in time to what England used to be like, England now is just far too busy for me, more people living in London where I am from.”
In addition, Raymond bought and stored 20,000 books in England, which he brought over with all their furniture. Raymond told me that he opened the shop because he reads a lot, with him telling me that “On holiday, I was reading at least three or four books a week so I used to have to bring at least 12 books to cover my holiday.”
The Algarve Book Cellar has many regular customers who live here as well as regular tourists who have a property here and come over during the holidays. Speaking of regulars, one then entered the shop, jokingly saying “One day we will find Raymond entombed in here”. Raymond clearly has a great rapport with his customers and he expressed that he “wants to keep people happy which is what this shop is all about.” He told me “A lot of older people still read a lot and they appreciate being able to get a book from here and so I like to keep them happy and books have become so expensive.” When discussing the shops 20th anniversary, Raymond revealed that he “would like to find someone to carry on The Algarve Book Cellar as he plans to retire in the future.”
It was wonderful to meet Raymond, his passion for books is infectious and I believe his success is well deserved and a credit to his dedication and love for books. As he stood amongst his ever-expanding collection, I thought to myself what a treasure his shop is and one I am sure will never be forgotten.
The Algarve Book Cellar is open Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday 9:30am until 4pm. You can find Raymond’s shop on Edifício O Galeão, Loja 1 e 2, Rua dos Pescadores, 8400-512 so do not hesitate to visit. For more information, please call 282 354 310.
Following undertaking her university degree in English with American Literature in the UK, Cristina da Costa Brookes moved back to Portugal to pursue a career in Journalism, where she has worked at The Portugal News for 3 years. Cristina’s passion lies with Arts & Culture as well as sharing all important community-related news.