Hay-on-Wye (Welsh: Y Gelli Gandryll or Y Gelli), often abbreviated to “Hay”, is a small shopping town and community located on the Wye River in Wales, bordering England. Known as the “City of Books”, Hay-on-Wye attracts a large number of book lovers in search of cheap, used books that can be purchased in more than 40 bookstores, as well as in many booths in the city.
The city is also home to Hay’s festival of books Bill Clinton described in 2001 as “Woodstock Mind,” which annually visits about 80,000 writers, publishers and readers from around the world.
It all started in 1961 when Richard Booth opened his first bookstore of the old books in the old fire department. He had books from America, where the bookstore was locked up at that time. After some time, there are several bookshops open in the city, and by 1970. Hay became internationally known as the “City of Books”.
Today, this tiny little town visits about 500,000 tourists annually. Among the many bookstores in Hay, the most unusual and most enjoyable are those called “fair bookstores”. These bookstores are usually empty (without sellers) and consist only of shelves and books. People simply choose a book and leave money in a small mailbox.