PsychoBabel and Skoob Books recycle knowledge. We have nearly 65,000 books in our London shop and 94,000 additional books online. Together, we offer a unique, high-quality environment for academic book-buying.
Owned and managed by an ex-academic and staffed by experts in a range of fields, we strive to preserve and develop the second-hand bookshop tradition of making available academic texts from all disciplines. What we offer is a carefully selected and prioritised range from our one million plus titles in the Oxfordshire warehouse.
PsychoBabel began in 2003 when a hospital university department was discarding nearly 10,000 titles, admittedly dated, but still of relevance and potential interest to postgraduate study. The name is an amalgamation of the dominant disciplines of that collection, Psychiatry and Psychology, and the biblical cosmopolitan city typified by a confusion of languages.
Our aim always has been to try and facilitate learning by preserving, cleaning and marketing out-of-print, scarce and otherwise unavailable books, and while we've branched out from the psychology focus in our collection, surely the point of study is to demystify and decode esoteric and obscure terminology for the phenomena of our existence.
Skoob Books has been an institution in the London Secondhand book trade for thirty years. Founded by staff from the pending closure of Poole's on Charing Cross Road, Skoob Book's series of shops around Holborn and Bloomsbury were always favourites for the local academic community, businesses, commuters and international tourists. During the 1980s and 1990s there were branches in four countries and a thriving publishing arm. Changing markets led to a two-year closure from 2005-2007 and a change of ownership. However, Skoob Books has bucked the trend of closing bookshops and, together with the internet trading of PsychoBabel, continues to develop its reputation as one of the world's favourite book stores.
We gather books from large-scale library clearances, domestic reorganisations, academic retirements, sad bereavements, career changes and general lack of space. We've also bought the stock of over a dozen closing-down bookshops in the past few years. Given that our major costs are rent and rates, we aim to get the best use of our storage by pricing to sell, at least 50 percent discount on RRP in the shop, and lower than anyone for comparable quality in the UK online. We're continuously topping up the shelves to the extent it would be impossible to know what we have with a great degree of accuracy in London. In Oxfordshire we add over 1,000 books a week to the catalogue. We have some books that are still in shrink-wrapping, but many more that have been carefully handled. We even have some that have been treated with an excess of affection and personalisation by a previous owner (carefully and accurately described, of course). But that's not to say there's a disadvantage in purchasing well-loved second hand books.
In his Irish Times column, Flann O'Brien explored the concept of commercial pre-reading of worthy books. Why should a wealthy person like this be put to the trouble of pretending to read at all? Why not a professional book-handler to go in and suitably maul his library for so much per shelf? Such a person, if properly qualified, could make a fortune. "Professional book-handlers, he wrote, will maul the books of illiterate, but wealthy, upstarts so that the books will look as if they have been read and re-read by their owners."
Our online bookshop, PsychoBabel, was so named because our first two collections of books were substantially in the subject areas of psychology and theology. Being a fan of the Flemish artist Pieter Breughel, the biblical Tower of Babel as a repository of the world's written knowledge, appealed to the company's intention to preserve often neglected and unfashionable material and prepare books for sale. It also allows for an image logo that combines human limitations with the quest for knowledge.
Much knowledge is concealed by jargon and, even though we sometimes speak the same language, we can often express entirely different concepts. I'm sure we are continually discovering ways in which our limitations in communication cause us to ignore valuable knowledge derived in other cultures. The multinational and multicultural team working here strive to enlighten ourselves and others through this little book business.
The nosology of insanity, the etiology,
the symptomatology, pathology, diagnosis,
prognosis, the care - how nicely the textbooks classified everything! How
accurately they defined the idiot, the
cretin, the imbecile, the epileptic, the
hysteric, hypochondriac, and neurasthenic.
Instead of admitting that little was known
about what went on in the human brain,
either healthy or sick, the professors
stacked up Latin names.
from The Estate
Isaac Bashevis Singer
PsychoBabel began ten years ago when a hospital university department was discarding nearly 10,000 titles that were admittedly dated, but still of relevance and potential interest to postgraduate study. The name is an amalgamation of the dominant disciplines of that collection, psychiatry and psychology and the biblical cosmopolitan city typified by a confusion of languages.
Our aim has always been to try and facilitate learning by preserving, cleaning and marketing out-of-print, scarce and otherwise unavailable books. And, while we've branched out from the psychology focus in our collection, surely the point of study is to demystify and decode esoteric and obscure terminology for the phenomena of our existence.
Like any company, we're especially pleased when our customers take the time to write and let us know when they're happy with their orders. Here's a sampling of the emails we receive:
Wow - what service! The book arrived today!! (A. Fowler)
Many thanks for sending Ekwall straight out to me - it has just arrived and I'm delighted! Thank you also for your prompt and friendly handling of my enquiry (E. Wilkes)
I just have to say how impressed I am by your service. I ordered the above book through amazon at 3 in the afternoon and at 9 o'clock the next morning I had it in my hand! astounding service! (S. Broadwith)
Excellent, brilliant service (John)
Thank you, I received it Saturday morning and can't believe how promptly it arrived. I am very impressed (J. Bussy)
I am very impressed with the speed of despatch & the way the book was packaged. (S. Morris)
The Elexander Book has arrived today. It is amazing, how technology (and nice English men (and ladies) improve our lives. (M. Kondratjuk)
Thank you very much for your help, so nice of you, won't get that from most people (K. Bearman)
This must be the fastest response EVER (H. Pattison)
thank you so much for being such a reliable company. It has been a pleasure to do business with you!!! The book was very important to me as it is a present for someone special, and it meant very much to have it on time (G. Arnold)
I would like to thank you for the speedy delivery of my book 'Ideology and Social Welfare', i am amazed that it got here so quickly after ordering it only yesterday! (M. Jones)
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