Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Some blogging highlights 2009 part 3

The next post up for my blogging highlights is a bit odd in that the interesting idea it starts is also abandoned. It is nonetheless interesting for that. Kristen at We Be Reading decided to start a re-reading challenge as so many of her followers seemed to read their books only once. Unfortunately this was confirmed by the fact that so few people participated in her challenge that she decided to abandon it.

I am a firm believer in re-reading. I would be. As a student and a teacher I spent a great part of my life reading a re-reading and re-reading again the same volumes, and I never tire of a good novel, how ever often I do this. As a bookseller of course I like people re-reading old favourites as it means they are often buying out of print books!
If you wonder what you would get out of re-reading then have a read of Kristen's posts on the subject and if you're interested then follow We Be Reading as she says that she will try again with the challenge in the spring when people might have more time. For further inspiration there is a good re-reading review on Shelf Love here.

My own favourite re-read is Middlemarch by George Eliot. I read it once every three years or so. It is about time I started it again. Comfort reads are often good re-reads such as old children's favourite (the Jill books, or Follyfoot, Honor Arundel's Emma books all spring to mind).
Do you have a favourite re-read?

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Some blogging highlights 2009 part 2

333 Short Stories You Must Read Before You Die is part of a great project on the blog Ready When You are CB. He is attempting to find the 1001 short stories to read before you die. Clearly lists of this sort are never definitive but the process of compiling the list is certainly a fun one to watch. He started this project with a list of just over 200 short stories and has got up to 333 with readers' suggestions. There are some great stories mentioned covering the expected such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" along side the less well know such as Graham Greene, "The Destructors", Shirley Jackson, "One Ordinary Day with Peanuts", Noel Coward, "Me and the Girls".

The compiling of this list is another great use of the blogging medium and a great boost for the little sister of the more glamorous novel.

The book illustrating this post is The Diamond as Big as the Ritz and other stories from the stock of A Book for All Reasons, their ref 35850.

Some blogging highlights 2009

I thought as the year was drawing to a close that I would highlight some of the best posts that I have read on book blogs during 2009. First up is the wonderful dovegreyreader scribbles. DGR's deceptively chatty and modest style lightly covers a wealthy of literary knowledge and critical acumen. Her blog is read by every type of reader from the already dedicated literary type to those taking their first steps on the library pathways. DGR came up with a piece of blogging genius on Bloomsday this year. Ulysses by James Joyce is both admired and feared. It is extremely hard to finish Ulysses even for a reader with a literary background; for the lay reader more accustomed to joy-reading with Jane Austen or Dickens it can be a bit of shock. DGR's invitation to take all who cared to join her on an assault on "Mount Ulysses" was a brilliant and creative use of the blogging medium. So the intrepid team began in June at Base Camp preparing to read a section per month and convene on the 16th of each month to discuss progress. The aim was to complete the novel together by Bloomsday 2010.

It remains of course to be seen how many of DGR's readers will make it with her to the end of the novel. To start such a project in a public forum is a brave piece of blogging. DGR's words and manner might be gentle and designed not to frighten the general reader, but her critical skills are no less sharp and her literary standards no less high for all her colloquial tone.

More on my blog posts of 2009 tomorrow.

The book illustrating this post is a Folio Society edition of Ulysses Illustrated by Mimmo Paladino. Priced at £45, from the stock of Stella and Rose's Books their reference 809959.

You can view more books by and about James Joyce here

Monday, December 21, 2009

Book of the Week

Elia Dresses, Illustrated by Walter Crane.

Published: Cassell & Company Ltd., 1901
Edition: First Edition
Binding: Hardback

1st edition, Pictorial paper boards, cream cloth spine. Beautiful colour illustrations surrounding text throughout, printed on one side of the paper only. Unpaginated. 11.25 x 8.5"., Book condition VG, Spine and covers slightly rubbed. Corners worn. Name plate to front pastedown. Light foxing to endpaper and prelims. Contents clean. A nice copy.

Stock number: 731900.

£ 120.00 ( approx. $US 196.39 )

From the stock of Stella & Rose's Books.

You can view other books by or about Walter Crane here.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Books as Art and Art as Books

Ibooknet member Marijana Dworski, specialist in out-of-print books on the Balkans and Russia, and Clare Keil, furniture and exhibition designer have combined their talents to present books as pictures for your wall in their new visionary project BOOKS4LOOKS.

"The wonderfully innovative graphic design of the 20th century, from the Russian Avant-Garde to the Festival of Britain, too often remains hidden in bookcases and on shelves." says Marijana. "The classic book-cover designs from the 1920s to 1960s are so striking, they are works of art in themselves, but as we love books too, we didn't want to just remove the covers and frame pieces of books. I've had books displayed on the mantelpiece, on window-sills for years, but until Clare put her thinking cap on, I just couldn't get my books on the wall". She adds.

Delighting in the bright bold colours of a series of large format children's books, the pastels and browns of a 'Modernista' Scheherazade, Eric Gill's distinctive black and white engravings and the now iconic oranges and greens of the Penguin paperback Clare and Marijana set about finding a solution for framing books as display items, whilst making sure that they remained intact and, ultimately, readable.

"We hope that the exhibition will inspire people to take a look at books from another perspective; as a beautiful object in itself, a quirky piece of retro, a statement of taste or just part of the décor. says Clare. "I've got these glorious 1960s cookbooks on my wall" although she admits that she doesn't actually get them down as they're in Welsh.

Offering a variety of display opportunities, some books are framed conventionally, whilst others can be easily removed from their frames and read. No book was harmed in the mounting of this exhibition!

Supplying both domestic and contract interiors as well as libraries and museums, Clare and Marijana will customise designs and source books or can supply from their current stock.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Romantic Novel of the Year Award 2010 Longlist

One hundred and fifty-eight novels, from twenty-four publishers have been submitted for the 50th Romantic Novel of the Year Award, presented by the Romantic Novelists' Association. Eleven of the books were penned by male authors, a record number of men.

RNA Chair Katie Fforde said it was an impressive array of wonderful titles for the Association's golden anniversary year. 'There is really something for everyone and each one a gem,' she said.

A shortlist of six titles (to be announced on February 11th) will be selected and sent to the final judges.

This year's judges are Sharon Gurney, Senior Book Buyer at Sainsbury's, responsible for buying titles for both chart and range. She says romantic fiction is incredibly important to Sainsubury's "I'm delighted to be part of this judging panel and I'd really like to see the award acknowledged not just in the world of publishing but also by retailers and ultimately the consumer."

The author of two non-fiction titles, Alyson Rudd was a financial reporter before becoming a sports reporter, and ran The Times Book Club. She is pleased to be to reading novels that will take her mind off football for a few hours. 'I am looking forward to reading some of the very best romantic novels that will, hopefully, tug at my heart strings and offer a few surprises,' she said.

The third judge is Moira Briggs, from the literary website Vulpes Libris, who says there are few things quite as adept at lifting the spirits as a well-crafted romance. 'Although being asked to choose the best of the best is a bit daunting, I'm delighted to play a small part in raising the profile of a genre that comes in for far more than its fair share of slings and arrows.'

The winner will be announced on Tuesday, March 16th 2010 at the Award Luncheon at the Royal Garden Hotel, in Kensington.

The complete longlist of twenty novels(in alphabetical order of author):

The Very Thought of You by Rosie Alison, Alma Books
Passion by Louise Bagshawe, Headline Review
Beachcombing by Maggie Dana, Pan Macmillan
Fairytale of New York by Miranda Dickinson, Avon (Harper Collins)
Lost Dogs and Lonely Hearts by Lucy Dillon, Hodder & Stoughton
A Single to Rome by Sarah Duncan, Headline Review
A Mother's Hope by Katie Flynn, Arrow (Random House)
A Glimpse at Happiness by Jean Fullerton, Orion
10 Reasons Not to Fall in Love by Linda Green, Headline Review
Marriage and Other Games by Veronica Henry, Orion
The Glass Painter's Daughter by Rachel Hore, Simon & Schuster
It's the Little Things by Erica James, Orion
I Heart New York by Lindsey Kelk, Harper
The Heart of the Night Judith Lennox Headline Review
The Italian Matchmaker by Santa Montefiore, Hodder & Stoughton
The Summer House by Mary Nichols, Allison & Busby
One Thing Led to Another by Katy Regan, Harper
The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks, Little Brown (Sphere)
Last Christmas by Julia Williams, Avon (Harper Collins)
The Hidden Dance by Susan Wooldridge, Allison & Busby

You can view more romance fiction here.

With thanks to Camden Lock Books for flagging this up!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Jane Austen's First Publisher

Jane Austen's First Publisher? Patrick Byrne Of Dublin by Margaret Rogers of Hessay Books

In January 1789 James Austen, Jane's undergraduate elder brother, started a weekly literary magazine 'The Loiterer'. It ran until March 1790, with the essays and short stories being written by James, his brother Henry, and college friends.

A humorous fake letter appeared in issue IX of Saturday, March 28, 1789. In it 'Sophia Sentiment', complains that the last issue of 'The Loiterer', written by her brother Henry, is dull and contains no subjects which could be of interest to young ladies.


I write this to inform you that you are very much out of my good graces, and that, if you do not amend your manners, I shall soon drop your acquaintance. You must know, Sir, I am a great reader, and, not to mention some hundred volumes of novels and plays, have, in the two last summers, actually got through all the entertaining papers of our most celebrated periodical writers, from the Tatler and Spectator to the Microcosm and the Olla Podrida. Indeed I love a periodical work beyond any thing, especially those in which one meets with a great many stories, and where the papers are not too long. I assure you my heart beat with joy when I heard of your publication, which I immediately sent for and have taken in ever since.

I am sorry, however, to say it, but really, Sir, I think it is the stupidest work of the kind I ever saw: not but that some of the papers are well written; but then your subjects are so badly chosen, that they never interest one. Only conceive, in eight papers, not one sentimental story about love and honour, and all that. - Not one Eastern Tale full of Bashas and Hermits, Pyramids and Mosques - no, not even an allegory or dream have yet made their appearance in the Loiterer. Why, my dear Sir - what do you think we care about in the way in which Oxford-men spend there (sic) time and money - we who have enough to do to spend our own. For my part, I never, but once, was at Oxford in my life, and I am sure I never wish to go there again - They dragged me through so many dismal chapels, dusty libraries, and greasy halls, that it gave me the vapours for two days afterwards. As for your last paper, indeed the story was good enough, but there was no love, and no lady in it, at least no young lady; and I wonder how you could be guilty of such an omission, especially when it could have been so easily avoided. Instead of retiring to Yorkshire, he might have fled into France, and there, you know, you might have made him fall in love with a French Paysanne, who might have turned out to be some great person. Or you might have let him set fire to a convent, and carry off a nun, whom he might afterwards have converted, or any thing of that kind, just to have created a little bustle, and made the story more interesting.

In short, you have never yet dedicated any one number to the amusement of our sex, and have taken no more notice of us, than if you thought, like the Turks, we had no souls. From all which I do conclude, that you are neither more nor less than some old fellow of a college, who never saw any thing of the world beyond the limits of the university, and never conversed with a female, except your bed-maker and laundress. I therefore give you this advice, which you will follow as you value our favour, or your own reputation -- Let us hear no more of your Oxford Journals, your Homelys and Cockney: but send them about their business, and get a new set of correspondents, from among the young of both sexes, but particularly ours; and let us see some nice affecting stories, relating the misfortunes of two lovers, who died suddenly, just as they were going to church. Let the lover be killed in a duel, or lost at sea, or you may make him shoot himself, just as you please; and as for his mistress, she will of course go mad; or if you will, you may kill the lady, and let the lover run mad; only remember, whatever you do, that your hero and heroine must possess a great deal of feeling, and have very pretty names. If you think fit to comply with this my injunction, you may expect to hear from me again, and perhaps I may even give you a little assistance; - but if not - may your work be condemned to the pastry-cook's shop, and you may always continue a bachelor, and be plagued with a maiden sister to keep house for you.

Your's, as you behave,

In the 'The Book Collector' in Summer 1966, Sir Zachary Cope first proposed that this letter was written by the 13 year old Jane and this theory (discussed in The Report of the Jane Austen Society of 1966) is now generally accepted. The letter is lively, witty and inventive, and typical of Jane's style.

If Jane really was 'Sophia Sentiment', it may be that her first ever appearance in printed book form was at the hands of a Dublin 'pirate'.

When weekly publication ceased, James Austen had published the bound-up remaining sheets of 'The Loiterer' in Oxford but in 1792 an edition was printed in book form by P. Byrne and W. Jones of Dublin. It seems unlikely that James Austen would have agreed to publish such a modest looking edition, so this was almost certainly an unauthorised 'pirate' edition, intended only for sale in Ireland.

At that time, the lead publisher, Patrick Byrne, was around 50 years of age and the biggest publisher in Dublin with over 150 titles to his credit. As a Catholic, his business was hampered by discrimination, and he became involved in work for parliamentary reform and Catholic emancipation.

His subsequent career was dramatic. In 1793 his house and shop, weakened by a neighbouring fire, suddenly collapsed into rubble, which may be why this little book is so rare. He was forced into a long court battle with his insurer to receive any compensation and in 1798, almost as soon as his business had recovered, he was accused of involvement in a plot against King George III instigated by Edward Fitzgerald.

He was arrested, accused of high treason and consigned to Newgate gaol, where he became ill. It was only in June 1800 that his petitions for release were finally successful and later that year he left Ireland for ever, for Philadelphia, which had been one of the main centres of the American Revolution. He ran a successful printing business there until his death in 1814, in the middle of the Anglo-American War.

Patrick Byrne's dramatic life seems a long way from the serene and orderly existence of Miss Austen of Chawton Cottage but it seems that Jane Austen's first appearance in book form may have been at the hands of a 'treasonous rebel'.

Ibooknet sellers stock many books on Jane Austen: you can view her works, as well as books about Jane Austen including literary criticism and biography.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Book of the Week

Published: Strato, Oadby, Leicester, ND,

Paperback, unpaginated [48pp], coloured ills. throughout,
stapled coloured pictorial paper wrappers, magazine format about 10 x 7 inches, in the Classics Illustrated series, No. 129 (HRN 129), cover price 1/3, text in English, printed in Republic of Ireland, a little rubbed at extrems., small nick fore-edge upper wrapper and light creasing to wrappers, slight rusting to staples, pages lightly tanned, very good.

Stock number: 38837.
£ 18.00 ( approx. $US 29.46 )

From the stock of A Book for all Reasons.

You can view more books on the American West here.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Collector as Artist: Lady Eccles and Oscar Wilde

British Library Lecture

The Collector as Artist: Lady Eccles and Oscar Wilde.

by John Stokes, Emeritus Professor of Modern British Literature in the Department of English at King's College London

Venue: Monday 11 January 2010 at 18.00 at the British Library Conference Centre 96 Euston Road, London NW1 2DB.

Taking Lady Eccles' magnificent donation of almost 2,000 items relating to Oscar Wilde and his circle to the British Library as its example, the talk will explore the ways in which the creativity of the collector can, in turn, inspire the imagination of the scholar.

Mary, Viscountess Eccles (1912 - 2003) collected an outstanding wealth of material relating to Wilde including manuscripts (correspondence, works, etc.) printed books (amongst them a number of presentation copies and books from Wilde's own library) and a wide range of ephemera which was bequeathed to the British Library.

The collection which is now available through the Library's online catalogues.

John Stokes and Dr Mark Turner, also of King's College, are now editing Wilde's journalism for the Oxford English Texts edition of the Complete Works.

The talk will be followed by a drinks reception.

Attendance is free, but please register your name with Teresa Harrington at the British Library teresa.harrington@bl.uk

The book illustrating this post is:

Oscar Wilde
Fairy Tales
Published: London, The Bodley Head, 1978
Edition: Reprint
Binding: Hardback

8vo - over 7¾" - 9¾" Tall. Bound in quarter tan morocco, with a red title label. Illustr.: Mozley, Charles. Book Condition: Near Fine. Binding: 1/4 Morocco
Stock number: 35548.
£ 95.00 ( approx. $US 151.91 )

From the stock of Stephen Foster

Monday, December 7, 2009

Book of the Week

Dutch Dresses - Anon
Published: Netherlands, van Rijkom Bros, 1900

Edition: First Edition
Binding: Hardcover

Clean hardback tightly bound in red cloth with pictorial decoration, cloth has minor rubbing at corners, no inscriptions. Contains 12 hand tinted postcards which open concertina style, cloth webbing is sound. No date, but stylistically late Victorian; 1880-1900 at a guess, Very Good

Stock number: 23087.
£ 45.00 ( approx. $US 71.96 )

From the stock of Aucott & Thomas.

You can view other books on the history of clothes here.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Peakirk Books at Norwich Book Fair

Peakirk Books, who specialise in children's literature, are exhibiting stock at the PBFA Book Fair at Norwich on Saturday 5th December.


Venue: Blackfriars Hall, The Plains, Norwich NR3 1AU
Map click here
Venue Tel: 01603 628477
Car Parking: Local car parks
Disabled facilities: Full facilities for the disabled
Fair Manager: Des Doy, Topsail Books
Type of Fair: General antiquarian and secondhand books with often maps and prints
Times: 10.00-4.30
Admission: £1

Peakirk Books attend several fairs a year. You can see their list of forthcomming fairs here.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Christmas Gift Cards

As lots of friends and relatives can be difficult to buy a gift for, gift vouchers and gift cards are very useful. An number of ibooknet sellers offer gift cards on their own websites, available to purchase online and in a wide variety of denominations. They can be spent online on the dealer's website and most dealers ship books to most countries. Here are a few dealers who sell gift cards, with a brief outline of the dealer's specialism, so you can select the card most likely to delight your recipient.

Bagot Books carries a general stock with an emphasis on UK travel/topography/history.

Jane Badger Books carries a wide range of pony books: everything from Ruby Ferguson to the Pullein-Thompsons, with many interesting detours between.

C L Hawley carries literary criticism and literary biography including books on Jane Austen, the Brontes, Mrs Gaskell, Sylvia Plath, William Morris, the thirties poets etc., plus a general academic stock, and books on Yorkshire and Lancashire including dialect poetry.

Peakirk Books carries children's books.

Stephen Foster carries rare books and fine bindings.

Amwell Book Company carries modern art, architecture and photography and has a shop in Central London. You can read more about their shop here.

East Riding Books carries books on all aspects of music.

Marchhouse Books carries Children's and illustrated books plus a very small general stock.

The pictured book is The Thames to the Solent By Canal and Sea by J. B. Dashwood and is from the stock of Bagot Books

N.B. individual dealers have their own terms and conditions so do read the individual websites properly and email the dealer if you are unsure.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Book of the Week

TWO MERRY MARINERS by John Brymer and illustrated by Stewart Orr
Published: Blackie & Son Ltd., 1902
Edition: First Edition
Binding: Hardback

1st, Large oblong format. Red cloth spine. Colour pictorial boards. Colour plates. Story in verse., Book condition VG-, Covers edge worn with slight loss of surface paper to corners. Spine bumped and slightly grubby. Inscription in ink to half-title page. Some light fingering and foxing but contents generally clean. A nice copy.

Stock number: 736486.
From: Stella & Rose's Books
£ 120.00 ( approx. $US 191.89 )

You can view more children's picture books here.

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 (www.peakirkbooks.com) and e-mail address (peakirkbooks@btinternet.com) 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.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Book memories meme

The following meme comes from Kirsty at Other Stories

The book that’s been on your shelves the longest.

As with most people this will be a children's book probably one of my Dean Reward Classics like The Folk of the Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton.

A book that reminds you of something specific in your life (a person, a place, a time).

Frederica by Georgette Heyer. When I was thirteen my mum passed me a copy and said, "I think you'll enjoy this." And I did! I have read and re-read all Heyer's works. They are great stress-busters. They are also a wonderful prelude to Jane Austen. I am sure I 'got' Austen more quickly in my teens because I had read so much Heyer. The moment when my mother passed me Frederica is also a reminder of how reading is a kind of club. When you share a literary habit with someone it is a real bond.

A book you acquired in some interesting way.

My habits of acquisition are very boring. I have not found books belonging to an author under the sofa like Kirsty did, though I have sold books back to their authors on more than one occasion, not unlike the old J R Hartley advert for Yellow Pages.

The book that’s been with you to the most places.

I was going to suggest another one of my childhood books but, thinking about it, my childhood books probably stayed in the family home when I was away at university, so the one that has been with me most is probably an early adult acquisition from my late teens, either Letters to Alice on First Reading Jane Austen by Fay Weldon or the Gone to Earth by Mary Webb.

Your current read, your last read and the book you’ll read next.

My last read was Murder on the Links by Agatha Christie. I am re-reading a lot of Christie at the moment, in the order in which she wrote them. My current read is Arthur and George by Julian Barnes and my next read will probably be another Agatha Christie, The Man in the Brown Suit.

If you have a go at this meme on your own blog please leave me a message in the comments, or if you don't blog please feel free to do this meme yourself in the comments below.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

'A Slap in the Face of Public Taste': Russian Avant - Garde Books

Marijana Dworski Books has recently purchased some 200 Russian books from the library of the late Alan Bird (author of 'The History of Russian Painting', 1987). Rather than written content, the main criterion for inclusion of most of the books in the collection was the value of the graphic design - visual rather than literary interest. Within the term 'avant-garde' our scope is quite wide, and we have included here books from Russia's Silver Age, the Futurism of the 1910s, the Constructivism of the 1920s to photomontage and the photography of Rodchenko. The poetry of the Symbolists Blok and Bely is included in specially illustrated editions by prominent avant-garde graphic artists of the time, such as the then notorious poem , 'The Twelve' illustrated as a quarto third edition by Annekov. Chekhonin, a prolific graphic artist, is well represented. Also present is a famous edition of the Kalevala, published in 1933 and illustrated by the school of Filonov (founder of Analytic art). This copy is still in its very scarce lithographed dust-wrapper. Two rare books designed and written by Vladimir Mayakovsky are included as well as a copy of Novy Lef, the avant-garde magazine edited by Mayakovsky with a Rodchenko design to its front cover and early photographs of its inside.

Please see Dworski Books and click on our Russian Avant-Garde catalogue on the lefthand side. We have only catalogued about a quarter of this collection so far but we have photos of all the books and will email more images on request. We welcome your input and questions.

From the top the images shown here are:

1. Vladimir Mayakovsky (written and ills.): Flying Proletarian. Moscow, 1925

2. Aleksandra Ekster (cover illustration): The Art of Degas. Moscow, 1922

3. A. Lentulov (cover illustration): Kamensky, Verse. Moscow 1919.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Chelsea Bookfair

The ABA's Chelsea Book Fair is on the 6th and 7th November at Chelsea Old Town Hall, Kings Road. This year it features an exhibition to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the publication of Fitzgerald's translation of Rubayait of Omar Khayam.

Our very own Stephen Foster will be on Stand 31 which is in the main hall in the left aisle.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Book of the Week


Published: Frederick Warne & Co., 1913

Edition: First Edition

Binding: Hardback

1st edition, Green boards, brown lettering, pictorial onlay to front cover. 53 pages. Colour illustrations. Small format., Book condition VG, Corners lightly bumped and rubbed. Small mark to verso of one plate. A few tiny spots to front cover. A nice bright copy of the first edition. Stock number: 584663. £ 300.00 ( approx. $US 479.73 )

The first edition of this less well known of Beatrix Potter's works is being sold by Stella Books, and if your budget doesn't stretch to a first edition they also have this:


Published: Frederick Warne & Co Ltd., 1985

Binding: Hardback , with Dustjacket

White glazed pictorial boards. Colour illustrations., Book condition Fine, Dust jacket condition nearly fine, A few grubby marks to pictorial wrapper.Stock number: 808032. £ 5.00 ( approx. $US 8.00 )

Friday, October 23, 2009

Twitter and reading

There has been an interesting article in The Bookseller which suggests that Twitter and Facebook are not places people go for serious book recommendations. For most people I would imagine that this is true quite simply because most people don't use them for anything. I admit to an adversion for Facebook but Twitter is a very interesting place for book discussion despite the 140 character limit of each of the posts on there. Twitter has a search facility and you can use #ilovethisbook or #fridayreads in the search box to see what people are recommending. For those who can't face trying Twitter then I have picked out a few I have seen recommended this evening:

from @meandmybigmouth (the publisher Scott Pack)

"The Blue Fox by Sjon. Short. Evocative. Moving. Icelandic. And a quote from Bjork on the cover."


"The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford by Ron Hansen. Even more spellbinding than the movie."

from @BristolPrize

"Mention again for What Good are the Arts? by John Carey- brave, stimulating, can be a life-changer. keep returning to it"

from @stevenha11

"Nam Le's The Boat. A beautiful book near the top of my "I wish I'd written that" list. Check it out. Seriously, go now."

I haven't read a book yet simply because I read about it on Twitter, but I do have one on my wish list The Tsar's Dwarf by Peter H. Fogtdal who tweets and blogs as Danish Novelist. I don't think I would have heard of this book had I not been on Twitter but it sounds fascinating and when I do get my paws on a copy it will be because of those 140 character long posts.

Have you read or bought any book mainly because of coming across it on a social networking site like Facebook or Twitter?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Open Book - Neglected Classics

BBC Radio 4's programme Open Book is running a Neglected Classics series where established authors champion an under-rated title from the past.

The books championed are:

The Polyglots by William Gerhardie

The Rector's Daughter by F M Mayor

A Hero of Our Time by Mikhail Lermontov

Many Dimensions by Charles Williams

Esther Waters by George Moore

The Quest for Corvo by A J A Symons

Rasselas by Samuel Johnson

Carol by Patricia Highsmith

The Snow Goose by Paul Gallico

Miss Mackenzie by Anthony Trollope

You can read more about the Neglected Classics series, vote, and suggest your own neglected favourites here.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

She is too fond of books and it has turned her brain

Long Barn Books, the publishing house owned and run by novelist Susan Hill have started selling this coffee mug with the wonderful Louisa M. Alcott quotation on it: "She is too fond of books and it has turned her brain". I am rather taken with it and shall drop heavy hints for Christmas!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Bookfair news

Simon French, who specialises in modern first editions, is exhibiting at two bookfairs. The first is at Cirencester and is run by the PBFA. It is on Sunday 25th October at Bingham Hall, King Street, GL7 1JT Tel: 01285 653313. There are refreshments available and access for the disabled.

Times: 10-4 Admission: £1

Simon will also be attending the independent Churchdown bookfair in Gloucester shire on Sunday 1st November. It is at Churchdown Community Centre, Parton Road, Churchdown, Gloucester.

Times: 10.00am - 3.30pm Admission 50p

The book shown is a signed first edition of Babel Tower by A. S. Byatt .

Monday, October 19, 2009

Book of the Week

Addey, David and Daniell, William

A Voyage round Great Britain: Sheerness to Land's End

Published: Staplehurst, Spellmount, 1995

Edition: First Edition; First Printing

Binding: Hardcover

Very clean, tightly bound book with no inscriptions, in a bright unclipped dustjacket, which has a short (less than ½") closed tear at the foot of the spine. 160 pages, 74 colour and 74 b/w plates, bibliography, index. The first of 4 books following the route of William Daniell, and comparing the views which he engraved between 1813 and 1823 with Addey's watercolours of what can be seen now, Fine in Very Good dust jacket Stock number: 24702. ISBN: 1873376340

£ 20.00 ( approx. $US 31.98 )

Friday, October 16, 2009

Mr Lockwood's Confusing Christmas - Brontë Parsonage Event

Advance warning of an interesting sounding day out: Mr Lockwood’s Confusing Christmas

Saturday 12 December - Brontë Parsonage Museum, Haworth

It’s Christmas and characters from the Brontës’ novels have escaped the pages of their books and been let loose in the Parsonage, where mayhem unfolds. What would happen if Mr Rochester met Cathy under the mistletoe, or Jane Eyre came across Heathcliff in the graveyard with a shovel? And when will Nelly Dean sort out that strange laughter coming from the attic?Event takes place throughout the day. Free on admission to the museum.

Read more on the Brontë Parsonage events here.

The cover image shown is a Dean's Classics Series, abridged edition, from the stock of Stella & Rose's Books.
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