The bookshop was not moved from Kammenstraat to the house named ‘The Golden Compasses’ until 1639, by Balthasar I Moretus. Initially, it was in the west wing, where the proof-readers’ room is now located (no. 9), away from the printing works. It was only in around 1700 that the shop moved to this space on Heilige Geeststraat, removing the need for potential buyers to enter the courtyard.
Anyone entering from Heilige Geeststraat now can see a poster about the infamous Index of Prohibited Books, the Librorum prohibitorum index. Plantin himself printed this in 1569, on behalf of the Spanish Duke of Alba. It was compiled by the confessor of King Philip II of Spain, Benedictus Arias Montanus, who worked closely with Plantin during this period. Among the proscribed works were books that Plantin himself had published, including works by Erasmus.
Loose sheets rather than books
The books were sold here ‘in albis’ – as loose sheets. To have books bound, the customer had to use the services of a bookbinder.
Still fully furnished
With its counter and cabinets, this shop is still fully furnished for the sale of books – right down to the money scales for checking silver and gold coins. The bookshop focused on the retail trade. Plantin also set up an international distribution network of booksellers via the Frankfurt Book Fair. These latter were his biggest customers.