I first set up my own bookselling business in the 1970s, when I was working for Paul Minet's business Piccadilly Rare Books in London. Paul had no section in his shop on Classical Studies or Ancient History, so I provided it, paying Paul a commission on the books sold.
In 1984 Paul decided to close Piccadilly Rare Books – the new rent for the building was impossible – and moved the business to Rochester. As I was firmly based in London, I had to find another job. I decided to re-train as a lawyer, and my book business, now much more widely-based, helped pay for my training. (Yes, we had student loans even then!). I exhibited at book fairs and issued catalogues.
When I qualified as a solicitor in 1988 I found there was no time left to devote to bookselling - by then I had a wife, two children and a mortgage - so reluctantly I had to close the business down.
In the intervening period I still found it impossible to pass a bookshop without going in, and it was only in the last five years of my employment that I regarded myself as a solicitor, rather than as a bookseller slumming to pay the mortgage.
The law firm I joined expanded out of all recognition, and developed a Byzantine bureaucracy of staggering complexity. I finally became tired of filling in time-sheets, and deleting endless internal e-mails. Besides, I think 21 years is quite enough time to spend in any job. I decided to leave and re-activate my bookselling business, this time using the internet.
It's good to be back.