ONE of the most famous bookshops in the world has been put up for sale for £1 million by the self-styled King of Hay-on-Wye.

The eponymous Richard Booth Bookshop was placed on the open market for the seven-figure sum by its eccentric owner, who says he now wants to help other book towns flourish across the globe.

Mr Booth bought the Lion Street building in 1982 at a time when it was used as an agricultural merchants.

Literature soon replaced farm machinery and the 11 miles of shelf space made the store the largest second-hand bookshop in the world.

Mr Booth, who in 1977 proclaimed Hay an independent kingdom and crowned himself King and ruler of the new state, told the Hereford Times he hoped to use his experience to boost rural economies in Belgium, Sweden, Norway and the United States.

"I want to give a new life to the second-hand book in the international world," he said. "The world is a library and we can use this to put rural tourism at the head of the tourist industry."

The 66 year old said new global commitments, which kept him out of the country for more than four months during the past year, formed part of the decision to sell the store.

He added that he would concentrate his efforts exporting his book town philosophy from his home at Hay Castle while writing his next book, Richard Booth's America.

Although Mr Booth seems to have his future mapped out, the same cannot be said for the bookshop that played a large part in making Hay the Mecca for the acquisitive bibliophile.

Selling agents McCartneys state: "The building is situated just outside the retail core of the town and therefore could be used for non-retail uses with the possibility of partial re-development."

Pat Thornton, who has worked at the book-shop since it started, said she hoped the new owners would not change anything and continue to use the 19th century building as a book store.

"There is something quite special about the shop. It has more than played its part in Hay's recent history," she said.

And any future buyer would have the perfect set-up to continue trading as a bookshop. Ryan Williams, from McCartneys, confirmed the 500,000 books in the store are included with the £1 million fee as an optional extra.