SIMON Finch bought his first rare book as a 12-year-old school-boy while at school at Winchester. He is now one of the top rare book dealers in the world with four shops, two in London, one in Norfolk and tomorrow, his fourth will open in Deya.
He is the driving force behind the Tertulia Deya Festival, a literary gathering modelled on the same lines as the Hay Festival in Britain. I've owned a house in Deya for many years and we recently decided that it would be a fantastic idea to hold a festival here which could coincide with the opening of the shop. The rest so to speak is history and the builders were yesterday putting the finishing touches to his Deya venture, which will sell a wide range of books in four languages, English, Spanish, Catalan and German. The bunting and flags will also go up for the festival today.
Finch's first love is books and always has been. Old books really turn me on, he says. It is the way they feel...the way they smell. I just love them. Buying and selling gives him a real buzz and he is obviously good at it. He recently sold a medieval manuscript for a cool $5 million. He also has a world-famous 20th century book up his sleeve which will create a buzz around the world. Among the books which will be on sale at his shop in Deya will be a 17th century book written by Ramon Llull, worth in excess of 3'000 euros.
But there is more than just books to Simon Finch. I finance my purchase of rare books through property deals. I love architecture, almost as much as I love books. It also makes good business sense. Bank managers are more likely to advance you money to buy a property than a rare book, he said yesterday. And his properties are nicely located. I've got one in Notting Hill which was opened by Hugh Grant (who ran a book shop in the area in the film Notting Hill), and then I've got another in Mayfair and the third is in Norfolk. Just in case someone walks through the door with a centuries old manuscript his staff do valuations, a service they will also provide in Deya.
Being a bookman he likes all his shops to feel bookie and the one in Deya also has a bar.
We want it to cater for the needs of everyone...the local population and also visiting holidaymakers, he said.
The festival is certainly helping to put Deya back on the map or as Lynne Franks said last week it is part of the Deya Renaissance. The Graves family are heavily involved in the festival and have also helped Finch with his latest project.
The festival is not something that was dreamed up to coincide with the opening of the book shop. It is set to become a yearly event and Finch is confident it will go from strength to strength. It has brought together some of the many personalities and famous names who have been visitors to Deya for many years. They include Andrew Lloyd Webber, who bought a home in Deya two years ago and wrote part of his West End show, The Woman in White in the village. There must be something in the Deya air which helps provide inspiration. Now, the village famous world-wide as the home of Robert Graves is to have its own literary festival and rare bookshop. The future for Deya looks bright. The fact that so many leading companies and institutions have put their name to the festival shows that it has the right backing from the right sources.
Today the official presentation of the festival will take place in Palma and tomorrow it will open in Deya.