Monday, November 30, 2009

John Llewellyn Rhys Prize 2009

Debut novelist and bookseller Evie Wyld has won the 2009 John Llewellyn Rhys Prize with her novel After the Fire, a Still Small Voice.

The shortlist was:

Between the Assassinations by Aravind Adiga (Atlantic Books)
The Striped World by Emma Jones (Faber and Faber)
Six Months in Sudan by James Maskalyk (Canongate)
The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Fourth Estate)
Waste by Tristram Stuart (Allen Lane)
After the Fire, a Still Small Voice by Evie Wyld (Jonathan Cape)

Have you read it? Did you enjoy it? I haven't as yet but I confess to being very taken with that cover.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Books at Christmas

Despite living in a house where we are surrounded by books, both our own and my stock, I do love receiving books as Christmas presents. I love new books, I love old books. I love receiving books I've dropped hints for, and books that are total surprises. I love getting vouchers to chose my own and I like books chosen for me. Surprise books are difficult. It can be hard to get it right. Just because you and your friend both like books by one author it doesn't necessarily mean you'll both like books by another. There is however a very great pleasure in bring surprised by a book, by falling in love with a book that you know you would never have bought yourself.

Some favourite surprise books in this house are Ghastly Good Taste: Or, a Depressing Story of the Rise and Fall of English Architecture by John Betjeman, Sarah Raven's Garden Cookbook, Birthday Letters by Ted Hughes, Borderliners by Peter Hoeg, Ruth by Elizabeth Gaskell (similar theme to Tess of the D'Urbervilles but much better handled I think), and Man Walks into a Pub: A Sociable History of Beer by Pete Brown.

Do you like books as presents? Do you like surprises or would you rather chose your own? What has been the best surprise book you've been given?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Who's Really Who in Fiction

I have just come across a fascinating book The Originals: Who's Really Who in Fiction by William Amos. It is an A-Z compendium of fictional characters with an explanation of the real people who inspired them. Some are quite well known, the biographical evolution of James Bond, for example, has been gone over often. Similarly Luthien in The Silmarillion, is well known as Tolkien's wife Edith.

Some sources of inspiration result in several literary figures. Lady Diana Cooper (wife of the politician Duff Cooper and one of The Coterie. ) was the basis of Mrs Algernon Stitch in Scoop and Officers and Gentlemen by Evelyn Waugh, as well as Lady Artemis Hooper in D H Lawrence's Aaron's Rod, Pauline Leonie in Nancy Mitford's Don't Tell Alfred, and Lady MacLean in Enid Bagnold's The Loved and the Envied, amongst other incarnations.

One of the most intrigue revelations in the book is that the original for Biggles. Air Commodore Cecil George Wigglesworth and the original for 'William', Richmal Crompton's brother John Lamburn, served together in the RAF during WWII. Amos speculates:

Unaware that it had the combined might of Biggles and William tucked away in Iceland, the War Office neglected to exploit the situation. Imagine the havoc that pair could have caused ...

The characters covered stretch from Shakespeare to the present day, but the majority are focused on the early part of the twentieth century, and if you are interested in the novel of this period then it really is a fascinating read.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Book of the Week

Addicted to Romance: The Life and Adventures of Elinor Glyn by Joan Hardwick

Published: London:, Andre Deutsch, 1994.
Edition: First edition
Binding: Hard Cover

306pp. Biography of the lively and talented Elinor Glyn (1864-1943), romantic novelist, war correspondent, Hollywood script writer and society lady. An insight into the European aristocracy and Hollywood stars such as Douglas Fairbanks, Charlie Chaplin, Rudolph Valantino and Clara Bow whom she knew. A number of black and white plates. Slightly bumped to corners and top and tail of spine. Slight mark to free front end paper. In clean and bright dw with a couple of small marks to front. Overall a near fine copy. Very good copy in very good dust wrapper.

Stock number: 629. ISBN: 0233988661
£ 12.00 ( approx. $US 19.19 )

Friday, November 20, 2009

A Bookseller's View of Waterstone's Marketplace

Lynn of Bailey Hill Bookshop, Somerset, reflects on the newest website for secondhand books.

Much to our amazement we have been listed on the Waterstones Secondhand Books site as their bookshop of the month. We were unaware of this until Catherine (aka Juxtabook) brought it to our attention.

We did agree to more exposure on an Alibris blurb a few weeks ago and this seems to be the result. It looks to us as if the order would placed with Waterstones and placed through to Alibris. We have had increased sales through Alibris recently including some expensive books. Really when you think about it people might be more likely to search a Waterstone's site as they may well not know about Alibris.

We had no control over the books they choose to display on this site, and we have many much nicer books than they have displayed but if we get increased sales so much the better.

You can view Bailey Hill Bookshop on ibooknet here.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Book of the Week

Meet The U.S. Army by Louis MacNeice

Published: HMSO, London, 1943,
Edition: 1st edn.,

1st edn., paperback original, 24pp, 8pp half tone photo ills.,
stapled card wrappers, 7 x 4.5" approx., an uncommon title, with large number of US servicemen arriving in UK it was written by the Irish poet Louis MacNeice for the Board of Education for use in schools, to try to explain the American, his culture and his way of life to the British, lightly rubbed at tips, light foxing lower wrapper, near fine.

Stock number: 39705.
£ 32.00 ( approx. $US 51.17 )
From the stock of A Book for All Reasons

You can view other items by Louis MacNeice here and other items on the US Army here.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Collecting Children's Books For Investment by Chris Tomaszewski

There are many reasons to collect children's books: for the amusing story line; for the charming illustrations or to evoke a childhood memory. Any one of these may lead to the purchase of a book which rises in value and can be seen as an investment. Selecting a book to buy as an investment first, and for interest second, is much harder. Which of today's new books will be The Wind in The Willows of tomorrow? Which of today's illustrators is the Arthur Rackham of 2020? It's impossible to provide a definitive answer but the purpose of this article is to provide some guidelines.

First and foremost - collect something that gives you enjoyment because that way, even if the books don't go up in value, at least you will have derived pleasure from your hobby! Maybe the soft humour of the Winnie-The-Pooh books which one appreciates just as much as an adult as a child; perhaps the hijinks of the schoolboy characters Billy Bunter, Just William or Jennings. Maybe the beautiful colour illustrations of artists such as Edmund Dulac , Arthur Rackham, Maxfield Parrish or Kay Nielsen appeal to you; perhaps you prefer the gentle tales of 19th and early 20th century heroines such as Meg, Beth, Jo and Amy in Louisa May Alcott's Little Women and L.M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables or the fantasy worlds of J.R.R. Tolkien and Baum's Wizard of Oz. And of course, not forgetting the world war two exploits of Biggles, Gimlet and Worrals or the adventures of Enid Blyton's Famous Five and Malcolm Saville's Lone Piners

Whatever your taste there is something for everyone in the world of children's books.

Book collectors like "Firsts":- First Editions; First Printings; an Author's First book; the First book illustrated by a particular artist; the First of the book in a particular format. In some instances the first appearances of fictional characters were not in books but in magazines or newspapers. For example, Biggles first appeared in the short story "The White Fokker", published in April 1932 in the aviation magazine Popular Flyer edited by W.E. Johns; Just William stories were first serialised in Home magazine, followed by Happy Mag; and Rupert Bear first appeared as a cartoon strip in the Daily Express newspaper in 1920. Ephemeral items such as those mentioned above are especially sought after as, being so fragile, they rarely survived.

While first editions are particularly desirable in the collecting world, all books have first editions and the first edition of many, many books remains worthless. An outstanding example of this contrast is in the Harry Potter books of J.K. Rowling. Her first book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, had a print run of just 500 copies and many of these were distributed to libraries. This first printing is now valued between £16,000 and £25,000 while a first printing of the last in the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, can be purchased for just a few pounds and will probably never increase in value as the print run was so large. Phillip Pullman is another very collectable modern author whose trilogy "His Dark Materials", originally sold in the mid-1990s for a few pounds, now commands prices of many hundreds and, in the case of signed copies, thousands of pounds.

Rarity alone means nothing. For example, Joe Public's vanity publishing of 200 copies of awful poetry may be rare but will have no value and is unlikely ever to have any value, simply because no-one wants to purchase it. The Internet has also made what are truly rare books seem common. "On the net" there may be five copies of a book - so it appears to be "common" - but these are the only five worldwide and many booksellers may only have possessed one copy in 10 years.

Condition is everything. Whatever you decide to collect for investment, purchase the best condition copy you can afford. A book worth £1500 in fine condition will only be worth £50 in poor condition and only then if it is a particularly collectable book. Also, bear in mind that a poor condition book will not be so attractive to a purchaser when you wish to sell it on.

The presence of the original dustwrapper can dramatically increase the value of many children's books. Some examples: the 1881 1st edition of A Day In A Child's Life by Kate Greenaway will be priced at around £100, but with its scarce original dustwrapper the value is increased to around £300; the first Rupert Bear annual, The New Adventures of Rupert, published in 1936, will cost you around £500-£600 unjacketed, but with its original pictorial wrapper will be priced between £1000 and £3000 depending on the condition of the wrapper. A note of caution - beware of "facsimile" or photocopy dustwrappers - these may make a book look good on the shelf but add very little to the value.

Books signed by the author or illustrator are generally more valuable and especially if the book is a limited edition copy or private printing. For instance, a first edition of The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter, originally priced at one shilling (5 pence today) is valued now at around £5000. The privately printed edition of only 250 copies is worth £50,000 while the second privately printed edition of a further 200 copies is valued at £25,000 - a significant return on investment by any standards! The Vicar of Wakefield illustrated by Arthur Rackham can be purchased for around £120 without a dustjacket, around £200 with a dustjacket but the limited edition of 775 copies signed by the artist commands a much higher price of around £1000.

However beware - the Irish poet Seamus Heaney once said that he had signed so many books that the unsigned ones were probably more rare! In addition, the prolific bookshop launch signers are certainly not adding value as the books are published in the thousands and the authors sign all of them!

Be prepared to invest over a long period, at least five years and possibly twenty. All of the books mentioned in this article have increased in value over the years and likely will continue to do so, and there are numerous others to look out for. This is where the fun begins - who will be the Arthur Rackham, J.R.R. Tolkien, or Phillip Pullman of the future?

In summary buy books because you like them, be selective as to edition and condition and the chances are you will, over time, have a worthwhile and an increased in value collection.

Contributed by Chris Tomaszewski of Stella & Rose's Books and all images including the signed limited edition of 'When We Were Very Young' are from their stock.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Art of Book Packaging

I opened the door recently to an apology from the postman and this:

Two large and heavy books, put together in a padded envelope that was slightly too big, had inevitably torn their own packaging. The postman had no need to apologise for it really wasn't Royal Mail's fault.

The books inside were both damaged. One had damage to the dust wrapper and both were bumped. Had the parcel torn any more they might not have made it here at all. Oh, and did I mention the poor books were first editions?

What makes me really sigh about this is that it is so unnecessary. Good packaging is cheap and light. Sensible packing makes sure the packaging, however cheap and light, fits tightly. If the packaging fits then even a padded envelope can do the job reasonably well. It was because the books could move that the envelope shown was torn. It was because they could move that the dust wrapper was rolled and rubbed. Additional padding inside would have prevented the bumping and the moving and all could so easily have been well.

Most ibooknet sellers use either boxes by Datec Packing of Coventry or Pussikeskus. We send tens of thousands of books a year between us, and both packing types have proved to be excellent. They work on a similar principle, after a bit of twiddling you end up with a cross shape, you place the book or books in the centre and then fold the packaging around the books tightly and seal. This way the packaging always fits the books. You can use bubble wrap as well if you prefer but the packaging in both cases is so strong that it is rarely necessary. Because any plastic element such as bubble wrap is separate from the card or cardboard element the main packaging can be easily recycled or composted.

There is nothing worse than anticipating a book's arrival through the post and being disappointed by shoddy packing, and it really isn't necessary.

The Roald Dahl Children's Funny Prize

Michael Rosen set up the Roald Dahl Children's Funny Prize last year, and the results of this year's prize have just been announced. I missed the news yesterday on the web, so was reading about it in the paper over breakfast, and that was a mistake. Philip Ardagh won the 7-14 age category with Grubtown Tales: Stinking Rich and Just Plain Sticky. Here's an extract:

"You know how people go on about greasy hair? Well, Manual Org's hair was so greasy that it was more grease than it was hair, so it would be more accurate to have called it hairy grease than greasy hair."

When you can add the memory of smell to this, as I can as the mother of a teenager who used to be allergic to washing, the combination is stomach churning. (In son's defence, I can say that since he discovered romance he is clean as clean).

Sam Lloyd won the six and below category with Mr Pusskins, the story of a cat who accidentally wins a prize at a cat show. I think six year olds are just as capable of taking the stomach churning in their stride as older children, but hopefully Mr Pusskins is easier stuff for the reading-the-bedtime-story-market.

Monday, November 9, 2009

The earliest dustjackets

As my stock is generally 20th century; pony books not being a popular subject before the 1920s, I very rarely come across truly early examples of book development, which is why I found this article so fascinating, together with the example of the dustjacket for Friendship's Offering, published in 1830, and found in a collection of uncatalogued ephemera in the Bodleian.

Book of the Week

A Quaint Treatise On "Flees And The Art a Artyfichall Flee Making" by an old man well known on the Derbyshire Streams as a first-class fly-fisher a century ago by W. H. Aldam

Published: London, John B Day, 1876
Edition: First Edition
Binding: Green/gilt hardback cloth cover

pp91 : Two chromo-lithographic facsimiles from water drawings by James Poole on card. [Llugwy North Wales; Offerton Stepping Stones] :: 300mm x 230mm (12" x 9") :: Printed from an old ms. never before published the original spelling and language being retained, with editorial notes and patterns of flies and samples of the materials for making each fly. [A Quaint Treatise on Flies and [Artificial] Flymaking by an old Fisherman]. Lists 26 flies with 22 examples on hard card with the made up fly, and the materials used to create it: March Brown*, Dottril Dun*, Little Chap*, Watchett*, Oringe Brown*, Granum*, Black Gnat*, Tailey Tail*, Green Drake, Oringe Headed Dun*, Light Dun*, Bigg Dun*, Crossing Brown*, Spider Flee*, Black Ant, Large Red Ant, Small Common Ant*, Small Caterpillar*, Bank Flee, Little Sky Blue*, Stream Flee, Willow Flee*, White Mout, Brown Mout. Appendix: Indian Yellow*, Eden Fly*, Summer Dun*, March Brown*, Green Drake*, Grey Drake*. Bookplate of William Charles Everley Taylor of Scarborough. Inscribed in pen on fep, G : in good condition with brown card slipcase. Covers very rubbed and bumped. Top edge of spine slightly cracked and frayed. Bottom edge of spine with small splits. Pages slightly rubbed and browning throughout. Aeg. Tightly bound and intact. Slipcase case rubbed with tape repairs

Stock number: L0859.
£ 3200.00 ( approx. $US 5117.12 )

More books on fly fishing can be viewed here and more books on Derbyshire here.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Peakirk Books

Peakirk Books have closed their shop near Peterborough and relocated to North Norfolk.

Although we no longer have a shop we are still specialising in old children's books and John Clare (the poet).

We are still holding a general stock.

Our website ( and e-mail address ( remain the same.

Our new telephone number is 01328 829944; 24 hour answerphone when not available.

Our new address is

Peakirk Books
Cherry Tree Lodge
Guist Bottom Road
NR21 0AQ

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Georgette Heyer Conference

Lucy Cavendish College, University of Cambridge have announced the first conference dedicated entirely to the life and works of prolific writer Georgette Heyer. The conference is being joint-hosted by the College and Anglia Ruskin University.

People from both institutions came up with the idea of the conference, 'Re-reading Georgette Heyer', after discovering a mutual love for the author and her work.

The conference is sponsored by the International Association for the Study of Popular Romance.

Those attending the conference will be welcomed at 10am for coffee before the first talk 'The Life of Georgette Heyer' which begins at 10:15am.

There will be nine speakers throughout the day discussing various topics from 'Class and Breeding' to 'The Thermodynamics of Georgette Heyer'.

The conference will finish with a structured discussion on gender, politics, class and race, topics which have generated some controversy amongst fans of Heyer who love her stories but may be less enthusiastic about some of her more conservative views.

You can read more about the conference here and here. You can view critiques of popular romance literary criticism here

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Recipe Books of the Early 19th Century

The Dove Cottage Wordsworth Museum & Art Gallery in Grasmere have a talk by food historian Peter Brears. coming up.

Saturday 5 December 2009, 3pm. Foyle Room.

The Recipe Books of the Early 19th Century event is free but does require booking as places are limited.

To reserve a place on this food history event, please visit the Museum website, or telephone: 015394 35544.

The book shown is Cakes and Ale:The Golden Age of British Feasting by Judy Spours and is from the stock of Stella Books.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Book of the Week

Charles-Joseph De Ligne

Coup d'Oeil at Beloeil & a Great Number of European Gardens

Published: University of California Press, 1991
Binding: Hardback , with Dustjacket

4to - over 9¾" - 12" tall. 295 pp., bibliography, index 158 fig. 10e. Book Condition: Near Fine. Jacket: Near Fine

Stock number: 22581. ISBN: 0520046684
£ 30.00 ( approx. $US 47.97 )

From the stock of Stephen Foster

For other books on European Gardens click here.
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