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Showing posts from July, 2011

Wartime recycling

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I took the dustjacket off the 1941 edition of Primrose Cumming's The Silver Eagle Riding School, so I could put it in a protective cover, which as you can see it was in dire need of, and lo!


this was on the other side.



 I've never actually seen the dustjacket for Khyberie, so this was a double treat.  What a shame it is to have to cover it up, but you can't have both sides of a bookjacket on display at once.  This isn't the only double-sided dustjacket I've found, but it's the only one I've managed to photograph.  I'm not sure whether this was strictly a wartime practice.

Morning walk

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It's harvest time, as I realised when I emerged from my work-induced fug and took the dog for her afternoon walk.  Quite how I had missed the characteristic combine hum I do not know.  Obviously I was much more into the cataloguing than I thought.  I hoped that the contactors wouldn't have started again by the time I did  my early morning walk the next day so I'd have chance to photograph the half done bits.  If I were a really good writer, I would now be telling you why I find the half doneness so intriguing but I can't actually think of anything momentous.  On that profound note, on to the photos.










Harvest time is one of the dog's best things.  For months, she has not been able to go into the crops, as I had it hammered into me by my farming relations from the time I was able to move on my own that one went ROUND the growing field, not THROUGH it.  Oh the horror when one day my sister and I, having done what we thought was a very careful recce went straight throug…

Latest on Amazon

Amazon's acquisition of The Book Depository has been submitted to Ireland's Irish Competition Authority, which has just reported back on the proposed acquisition after a three week investigation. They've cleared it, saying that the acquisition "will not lead to a substantial lessening of competition in any markets for goods or services in the state."  Full details on the decision will be released next month.


The decision by the UK's equivalent body, the Office of Fair Trading, should be released by 30th August, at which point the OFT will state whether or not it will refer the takeover to the Competition Commission.  


The Irish decision blows something of a cold wind over at least this bookseller, though of course it's no guarantee of what will or what will not happen.  


I am not hugely convinced by the combined submission by the Publishers' Association and the Independent Publisher's Guild to the OFT, which states that Amazon acquiring the Book Depo…

What holiday?

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Last week I spent the holiday money.  Business has been up and down of late (though I seemed spectacularly unaffected by the Royal Wedding - it's school holidays as does me down) so I was mulling on whether or not to invest in the business, which is still making a profit, just about, or hang on and have a couple of days away, though even this might have come to naught anyway because of other family pressures.

Anyway, when the chance of new stock came up; and a lot of it at that, I took it. We will be having family days out.   New stock doesn't always come along when you want it to in my line of business: once I knew I was going to buy this, of course someone else contacted me with another large collection they thought I might be interested in.  It was mostly children's books, rather than horse, so I didn't feel as bad as I might have done at turning it down, but I felt a pang.

So, off I went last week to the deepest Midlands.  Here's some pictures of what I bought…

Guest blogger - Meg Rosoff

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I have a guest blogger - the wonderful Meg Rosoff (and I have a couple more guest bloggers waiting in the wings too). Meg is a prize winning author.  She's won  the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize 2004 for How We Live Now, and the CLIP Carnegie Medal in 2007 for Just in Case.  And she likes pony books.


Over to Meg...


I grew up in the wrong country. I know this because there weren’t enough pony books in America. By the time I turned eleven, I’d read eighteen Black Stallion books, twelve Marguerite Henrys, Black Beauty, Taffy’s Foal, Blaze Finds the Trail, and even (though reluctantly) a bunch of vaguely horsey cowboy books -- though I was decidedly not interested in anything other than the ponies. Desperate, I moved on to The Yearling (a deer book -- what a cheat), The Red Pony (too sad even to think about), Strider by Leon Tolstoy (I think it’s fair to say that I entirely missed the communist metaphor), Dapple Grey in Andrew Lang’s Red Fairy Book. All very literary, but no…

It's a rough life being a vet

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Thanks to Chronicle of the Horse for this.

Coping with repellent books

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By which I mean physically repellent, rather than the content: a subject for a whole new blog post.

Bookdealers come across some rare delights in their efforts to find stock.  I suppose that's true of dealers in secondhand anything, though I'm glad my days of doing NCT Nearly New sales, and finding baby clothes for sale with the baby sick still on them, are now past.   (I used to run these, and we instituted a ruthlessly efficient quality control system to root out this wickedness...)

I also used to sort books for a local Cancer Research shop, and never ceased to be amazed by what people thought we could sell:  colouring books already coloured in; books with half the pages missing; books which had obviously been in the bath; books which had spent a long time in a dusty attic, and my particular favourites, books which had spent some time in a damp garden shed.  There is nothing like sorting through a box of slightly damp, mould ridden and reeking books, to cheer your day.  Wait…

My Little Pony?

I was going to post about a DIY My Little Pony program I found, because I was quite proud of librarian pony, but then via Troton TV on Twitter came the glorious news that the bling heavy primping that infests the beauty pageant scene has now spread to ponies.   At the Calgary Stampede, no less, which I'd always thought was quite tough and rodeo-ish.  Pics and story here.  Eyeliner.  Eye shadow.  Sparkly hair gel. They shave their muzzles, for goodness' sake.  Horses have hairs there because they need them.

If primping is what floats your boat, then why not stick to My Little Pony, who frankly won't really care if you daub it with eyeshadow?

Grow, grow the lightning tree

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We are a television-rich household, I admit it. My children simply can't conceive a world where television was not.  When I was a child, we had a television, which received all of, ooh, one, chanel.  BBC1.  I knew Playschool existed, but it was on BBC 2, and we didn't have BBC 2, so Playschool remained a dim and wistful fantasy for me.  We lurched into the modern age with a bang after the science programme Tomorrow's World "experimented" with colour television, which had hoards of people rushing home to see if they could see this attempt at getting us to see colour through our black and white screens.  Yes well.  I couldn't see anything myself, and frankly didn't believe anyone who said they could at school the next day.

My stepfather had a similarly robust view, and rather than squint and attempt to "see" colour, he simply went out and bought a new television.  Not only was it colour, but, almost more exciting, it had more than one channel.  TH…

What would they be doing now?

The thing with reading classic literature, particularly if you've seen a lot of BBC adaptations (and I have), is that the characters become wedded to their period dress and their distant period world.  Wuthering Heights I had to read for A level, and I can't even write the words without dark, lowering moors and a lot of swishing, probably sodden and muddy, fabric, coming to mind.  Some of that might be an over-familiarity with Kate Bush's Wuthering Heights, mind.


I didn't have a huge amount of sympathy for Heathcliff and Cathy even in my surly teenage years, thinking whatever the 1970s equivalent of "What are they ON?" would have been. I know we were supposed to find Nellie Dean the housekeeper narrator the dull antithesis of all that wild and romantic emotion but I had a sneaking sympathy for her. What I liked about the book was the moors: if you regard Cathy and Heathcliff as an extension of the moors, they're just about bearable, but as human beings the…

Amazon from the other side of the fence

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Amazon is phenomenally successful, which begs the question - why?

From the consumer's point of view, Amazon is a good thing.  Prices are (generally) low, choice is phenomenal, you can return anything for any reason.  With Amazon's feedback system the buyer is in control:  the buyer can say pretty much what they want, and if an Amazon seller isn't any good, this should emerge soon in the feedback.  Amazon feedback and the seller rating is a fine method of keeping sellers up to scratch.  If a seller's feedback is bad, sales will slip.

Amazon's business practice is pretty much like that of the British supermarket.  It provides what the customer wants, and the customer keeps coming back.

"Customer service from Amazon is always pretty good as a buyer. I buy non-book items there. When [my husbsand] first got his ipod he was having problems with the download software for buying MP3s from Amazon and the help page asked if he would like a phone call to help him. He clic…

Bits and pieces

You will never, not ever, get the same thrill from an e-reader as you will looking at this lot.  Not if you're me, at any rate.

Thanks to the Mumsnet blogging network, of which I am a member - see smart new badge thing at the side of the blog - I found this excellent blog about the trials and tribulations (plenty of both) on a Perthshire farm.

The Olympic Test event happened this week at Greenwich Park.  Here's the best report I've read of it, by Fran Jurga.

I loved this story of the author's introduction to The Elliott Bay Book Company:  a timely reminder in these corporate times, of the power of the independent.

There's an online children's literature festival at the Awfully Big Blogging Adventure on July 9th and 10th.  The ABBA is written by UK children's book authors, and the programme for the weekend is after the jump.


A detour

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around natural history, while I plan my next Amazon post.  A few people have said to me recently that they don't have much in the way of ladybirds, and where have they all gone?  To the neglected tangle that is Badger Towers, is the answer.  For once my many gardening fails have worked in my favour, and the nettles I made only half hearted efforts to get rid of are covered with ladybirds in varying stages of development (was going to say gestation, but I don't suppose they do gestate, do they?)



Life as a bookdealer with Amazon

Whilst it's good news that Amazon's acquisition of the Book Depository has come to the notice of the Office of Fair Trading, who have started the merger enquiry process by inviting comments, none of that will make one iota of difference to the situation that the vast majority of bookdealers in this country have to deal with.

Last year I posted about the almost complete impossibility of running an online secondhand book business without having to use Amazon in some way.  I thought it would be interesting to look again at what life is like as a bookdealer all too aware of how much their livelihood depends on Amazon.  What follows is the body of my previous post, with updates as relevant.


In the early days of internet bookselling, there wasAbeBooks, a Canadian company launched in 1996 whose mission was to provide a platform for booksellers to reach a wider audience, whilst maintaining their individuality. You paid Abe a monthly fee for listing your books, and another fee when a bo…

Amazon and the bookselling world

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The Book Depository weren't owned by Amazon.  The Book Depository provided a viable alternative to Amazon, and I had Book Depository buttons up on my site and this blog.  Amazon have just reached an agreement to buy Book Depository International.   From the sound of the report, it looks as if Amazon will have The Book Depository carrying on in the same form it is now, providing the illusion of competition.

The illusion of competition is something Amazon is good at exploiting.  Take the secondhand book business.   Besides selling a considerable amount of books through their own site, they own ABE, the largest secondhand bookselling site (apart from Amazon).  ABE own Chrislands, largest provider by a very long way of website facilities to secondhand booksellers, including me.  They own Fillz, Bookfinder and 40% of Librarything.  And earlier this year, ABE (and therefore Amazon) bought ZVAB, another antiquarian book selling site.

If there is competition, Amazon are not beyond attempt…

Bits and pieces and a parsnip forest

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The equestrian test event is on in Greenwich Park at the moment.  There are not many moments when I regret having moved from Charlton (next door to Greenwich) but now is one of them.  Here's Fran Jurga with a full report on what's happened so far.

Like Susanna Forrest, I long to have a go at side-saddle.  Susanna has, and here's her lovely blog piece on it.

My idea of War Horse the movie would have been Tim Burton plus the puppets from the stage show.  Failing that, it's Stephen Speilberg, who seems to have some misgivings himself on his use of real horses.

I have a vegetable patch on what was our muck heap.  The theory is that I grow stuff up there that doesn't need a lot of horticultural input; potatoes, garlic, onion, and parsnips (note nod to the Oxford comma which I am experimenting with having been taught  it was a Bad Thing.  Now questioning this assumption).   I am supposed to go up to the muck heap once a week to check on what's been happening.  I have…

New books for July

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Here's this month's horse and pony book releases.

Kate O’Hearn - Pegasus and the Fight for Olympus
I’m looking forward to the next episode in this Greek gods meet modern day America saga, having enjoyed the first book, Pegasus and the Flame, very much. At the end of the first volume, Olympus had been saved, though surely only temporarily as the Nirads were still very much alive and well.



Jenny Oldfield - Black Pearl Ponies
Jenny Oldfield’s latest series is out this month.  As far as I can see,two titles are released this month:  Red Star and Wildflower.  It’s another series set in America, on a ranch, a formula which has been extremely successful for Jenny Oldfield before.

Tracy Dockray - Lost and Found Pony 
Feiwell & Friends, £10.49.  Tracy Dockray, who has illustrated books by Beverly Cleary, has her own book out at the end of July.  The cover certainly looks promising.



Pippa Funnell - Tilly's Pony Tails 14: Buttons: the Naughty Pony
Out on 7 July, it’s episode 14 in …