But the growth of the internet also sounded the death knell for the bookshop, something that Hill and Owen have noticed even more acutely in the past few years. The international secondhand bookshops they rate have shrunk to just over a dozen, as booksellers retire and aren’t replaced. But aside from online, a lot of the most fruitful buying the pair engage in is from individuals and artists themselves. It’s clear that the thrill of the chase is a huge part of the excitement for Hill and Owen, and much of their job, as well as a good eye and in-depth knowledge of their field, is patience in waiting for desired titles to surface. One such much-sought after publication is Lipstick, an independent magazine made by eighteen-year-old Eton student Perry Ogden and his school friend Rory Phillips. Shot and designed themselves, the pair also managed to secure interviews with David Bailey, Diana Rigg, Joe Strummer and Andy Warhol – a huge coup for two complete unknowns. “I’d been chasing it for quite a while, and he’d given one to his father at the time of making it and his Dad sent us his,” says Hill. “We wrote about it two years ago and haven’t seen another one since,” adds Owen.
As well as books, magazines and catalogues, the couple also trade in more unusual ephemera. “Unique things are really great, says Hill. “We’ve had a scrapbooks, boxes of unpublished prints, actually even a maquette for a book that never got made about Roman Polanski. That’s really stunning.” And is there anything they’ve grown so attached to that they wouldn’t sell? “No,” says Owen thoughtfully. “Invariably we will find those books again, it just depends how long it takes. Of course there’s the unique things that you sell and you might not see ever again but with those objects, it’s just nice to have had them pass through, full stop.”