Building the new Booth’s Bookshop Reading Room

Reading Room Sign

For the past few weeks, the Folio offices have been a tangle of Papier Mâché, wood shavings and glue as we prepare to open the new Folio Society Reading Room at Booth’s Bookshop in Hay.

The idea for a dedicated Folio space at Booth’s first came up when Toby, Folio’s managing director, met with the organisers of the Hay Festival earlier this year. We were introduced to the bookshop’s owner, Elizabeth Haycox, and immediately fell in love with the space she’s created in one of Britain’s literary hotspots. After adding a café and a cosy 48-seat cinema, Booth’s is now at the heart of Hay’s reputation as a town of books, and a serious contender for Folio’s favourite independent bookshop. If we were to create an outpost of our beloved Holborn shop, Booth’s is definitely the place to have it.

The Folio Society Reading Room is more than just a place to buy our books. We wanted to create a real experience, the feeling of sitting in an old library, with all the sense of anticipation that comes from being surrounded by books. The joy of reading as a child comes with the hope that, just like your toys, your favourite characters pop out of the pages of your books and have a life of their own when your back is turned. It was with the aim of capturing that feeling of impending magic that we got to work.

The Folio Society Reading Room is open now, and with a wide selection of Folio titles and a Wizard of Oz themed trail for children, we hope our fans in the area will enjoy this new space. Click here for directions and to find out more about Booth’s Bookshop.

Bell Jars

I created four dioramas contained within large glass bell jars themed around a selection of our titles; The Great Gatsby, On the Origin of Species, Pinocchio and The Vampyre. These display pieces were designed to show our books in a new light and to celebrate the tactile nature and aesthetic pleasure of printed literature.


The Folio Reading Room, our beautiful new space at Richard Booth’s Boosktore. We hoped to create a space that felt warm and inviting, somewhere comfortable to settle in and lose yourself to a good book.
On one side of the space is a selection of our current publications. On the other side, owner Elizabeth Haycox has painstakingly ordered and catalogued second-hand Folio editions chronologically from the late 40s to the present day.


Stairs Trail

‘Follow the yellow brick road …’ We designed a trail themed around The Wonderful Wizard of Oz to lead people from the front door, through the shop and up to the Folio Society Reading Room. There are characters, props and of course a yellow brick road, as well as a treasure hunt for children to complete.




Window copy

Throughout the festival we have a display in the front window to continue the Oz theme, complete with a rotating twister!





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Comments from others

  • Phil says:

    Beautifully done, wish i could have seen it in person

    • The Folio Society says:

      Hi Phil. The window displays are just for the duration of the festival, but the reading room will still be open after, so do pop in and have a look if you get the chance. Booth’s is always worth a visit anyway!

  • Clare West says:

    Looks great – does this mean we might have some members events here rather than London?
    Clare West

    • The Folio Society says:

      Hi Clare

      Thanks for your feedback – we’re glad you like it. We’re certainly going to look into having member events at Booth’s and other locations around the UK. We’ll keep you informed by email of any events that we do arrange, both in London and elsewhere.

  • Mary Bradshaw says:

    What a lovely reading room it looks, and living in the South West, it won’t be too hard to reach, I can’t wait to come and see it. Are there some sofas too?! I can see a whole day being spent inside!

    • The Folio Society says:

      Hi Mary,
      We think it’s lovely too. There are two comfortable armchairs in the Reading Room as well as some sofas located throughout the shop. We hope you get to visit it soon.

  • tom fawcett says:

    Kind of a long way to go from San Francisco