Near the Strand in London, you can find the Vera Trinder philatelic bookshop. Exiting Stanley Gibbons shop to go back to Trafalgar Square, look for Bedford Street on your right hand. At number 38, go down the stairs and here you are.
The hall with the cash machine stocked a large and international choice of stamp catalogues.
No stamp, only accessories to look at, manage and organize a collection. And to study it by knowledge. A title or a topic, and the seller invites me to wander around the bookshelfs to the perimeter my quest may be fulfilled. Since I have been reading philately, it was the first time that I found a place that is so near the help-yourself bookshop I dream of. Usually, either the choice is tiny, or the seller go to the stockroom alone.
The real help-yourself at Vera Trinder LtD. was at the Stampex show where the shop had a booth. Inside two boxes of more than 20 years old books, I found little ones that will be useful to me.
Have a good visit, this place is worth the try.
Update on Friday April 1st 2016:
The Vera Trinder bookshop in London was closed in 2014 and moved to Cornwall.