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July 2004


Anthony Malcolm Buckeridge, the creator of 'Jennings', born in London in 1912, died 28th June 2004 at the age of 92.

The retired schoolmaster brought 'Jennings' and his adventures at Linbury Court preparatory school to the public through BBC Children's Hour after he had sent a radio script to David Davis in 1948. Further plays were commissioned by the BBC and the first book came with 'Jennings goes to School', published by Collins in 1950.

Over the next thirty years more than twenty 'Jennings' books followed and in more recent years the original plays written for the radio have also been published. Buckeridge also wrote four books about a grammar school boy 'Rex Milligan', edited several volumes of short stories and his autobiography, 'While I remember', was published in 1999.


'A Year in the Merde' by Paul West

The Guardian reports that Stephen Clarke, aka Paul West, printed in his garage an edition of 200 copies of his experiences of living in Paris, for distribution to his friends. Described as an urban antidote to 'A Year in Provence' and written in 'Bridget Jones' Diary' format, he says he is a cross between Hugh Grant and David Beckham and tries to show the French as they really are. Within a few weeks demand has risen and 2000 orders have been received. Even the French are buying it even if they don't quite understand it.

He now has an agent and it is understood that deals are being negotiated with major British and French publishers and even film rights have been mentioned.

The Sixth Harry Potter title

With great fanfare, JK Rowling has announced the title of the 6th book in the Harry Potter series as Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. It appears that the title is all she has so far written, so has given plenty of notice of upcoming publication. Considering that there was a two year gap between books 4 and 5, it could well be that Potter fans will have grown up or out of Potter by the time it comes to fruition. And, it is assumed, the author is quietly confident she will avoid writerís cramp.

Collecting Science Fiction and Fantasy
from Fantastic Literature

Whether you're a true bibliophile or just someone who loves to read, book collecting is an enjoyable, and sometimes a profitable way to enhance a favourite hobby or pastime. There are lots of ways to start collecting books. Avid readers are usually already book collectors because of the very nature of their hobby or pastime - they love reading. Most avid readers are partial to certain types of books, whether they're mysteries, science fiction, adventure or romance. Among these genres, you will soon realise that there are more science fiction books on the shelf than any other.

First editions of certain authorsí works are sometimes very valuable. Value is determined by how popular an author has become and how scarce their books have become. The print run of some books, particularly UK editions, can be very low indeed with most going to libraries.

There are many other categories you might consider when beginning a book collection besides favourite authors. You could choose to collect works of a certain illustrators, or distinctive book formats (i.e.) miniature books or those in slip covers, certain types of bindings, or award winners - for Science Fiction these include the Nebulas and the Hugos, for Horror there's the Stokers and for Fantasy, the World Fantasy Award and others, many of which can be found on our website. There's ARCs (advance reading copies), authorsí first books, or only those signed by the author. You might decide you'd like to collect books published in the 1930s, or ones printed a few hundred years ago.

Authors to consider in the Science Fiction genre are Brian Aldiss, Keith Roberts, J.G. Ballard, Philip K. Dick, Peter F Hamilton, Adam Roberts, Iain Banks, and China Mieville.

Collectable fantasy authors include David Eddings (Belgariad), George R. Martin, J.R.R. Tolkien, Mercedes Lackey and David Gemmell.

Those of a more bloodthirsty nature may prefer horror stories written by authors such as Joe Lansdale, HP Lovecraft, Basil Coppr, Hugh B Cave, Stephen King and Dean R Koontz.

Caring for your book collection is also another important consideration. Whenever possible, books should be stored vertically and on a bookshelf. Never cram them tightly together as damage could occur when taking a book on or off the shelf. Make sure that the volumes are never exposed to direct sunlight otherwise print fades and pages yellow. If you don't have a lot of room in your house, itís okay to store books in boxes. But again make sure to align them vertically in the box if you can. Also make sure the boxes are small enough for easy handling and can be tightly sealed to protect the books from various damaging elements.

Don't store books in lofts or sheds. Both extremes - heat or possible damp or moisture - can be very detrimental for books. The ideal temperature to store them in is around 70 degrees Fahrenheit and at a relative humidity of about 50%. A room with year round air conditioning is ideal. Mould or mildew is another consideration.

Advanced mould growth can do irreparable harm and make prized first editions virtually worthless. If mould does become a problem and itís caught early enough, the best thing to do is move the books to a drier location and expose them to air or sunlight. Try and dust your books at regular intervals too, about once a year.

Mice, silver fish, cockroaches and other paper-loving pests can damage your book collection beyond repair. To avoid such infestations store your most prized books in individually sealed bags or air-tight containers. If you're still having trouble with certain types of insidious pests, discuss the problem with a reputable exterminator.

Hereís a few more things, you, the Book Collector can do to protect your everyday books and your prized book collection:

  1. Don't eat or drink while reading unless you didn't want to keep that particular volume in your collection anyway.
  2. Never read in the bath!
  3. Don't bend the books spine or dog ear the pages - that's what book marks are for.
  4. Never loan out your favourite books. If you do manage to get them back they'll likely be returned in less than pristine condition.
  5. Don't write in your books - use personalised bookplates.
  6. Keep favourite books on the bookshelf and not on the coffee table where visitors or pets can abuse them -- as coasters or chew toys.

Happy collecting!

A Major Charity Booksale at Turville Books 

A unique charity bookshop opens its doors from Thursday August 5th to Sunday August 8th from 10.00am to 4.00pm daily. This consists of a barn full of new and second-hand books of all categories including first editions and leather-bound books, and a very large tent full of 50p books representing fantastic value! The event will be well signposted from exit 5 of the M40 and is half a mile from Turville (just follow the pink signs) and parking is free. The charities this year are the Elizabeth Finn Trust and Thames Valley Adventure Playground. 

Recent Auction results

Sothebyís recently sold a copy of Alcoholics Anonymousí Big Book at their New York salerooms. Expecting to sell for $300-500,000, it eventually fetched a stunning $1,576,000. The book in question is no ordinary book but was the master-copy of the working draft belonging to co-founder of AA, Bill Wilson, with marginal notes and amendments in his own hand. This particular book has gone into numerous editions and printings since it was first published and it is claimed has helped hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people to find a route out of their alcoholism.

Attempted Internet banking scam

A recent attempt has been made to target those in the antiques trade who use internet banking, conning them into believing that a 'bank-to-bank' transfer has been made. Having told the seller that an inter-bank transfer would be made, a stolen cheque was deposited for the agreed amount of the sale. When checking online this would have appeared to the seller as a payment into the account but would not necessarily shown the source or method used.

Bank to bank transfers are of cleared funds and so it would be safe to release the goods but a cheque still needs to be cleared. Fortunately in this case (a sale of four antique clocks for £72,500) the seller was already doubtful and he delayed releasing the goods long enough for the bank to let him know that the payment had been by a cheque which had been stolen.

Book Prizes

The Samuel Johnson Prize

Sponsored by BBC Four, the Samuel Johnson Prize is awarded to the best non-fiction work and the winner of the £30,000 prize for 2004 is Ann Funder for her book 'Stasiland', published by Granta, a collection of accounts of life in the totalitarian state of East Germany.

The Orange Prize

Sponsored by Orange, the prize is awarded to the best novel by a female writer in the English language and the winner of the £30,000 prize for 2004 is Andrea Levy for her novel 'Small Island', published by Headline, about a Jamaican couple who arrive in Brtian after WW2.

The Aventis Prize

Bill Brysonís 'A Short History of Nearly Everything' recently won the Aventis Award for science publications. The book, whose author claims little or no knowledge of science, traces the history of earth, humankind and the Big bang to the present.

Great Ormonde Street Childrenís Hospital was the double beneficiary of Brysonís win, in that he donated his £10,000 prize money to them, a sum matched by the the Aventis Foundation who sponsor the prize.  

Harrogate Crime Writing Festival

The Harrogate Crime Writing Festival, 22nd-25th July, part of the Harrogate Festival of Arts and Music, celebrates the best of the modern genre. Contributors include Minette Walters, Martin Sixsmith, Stella Rimmington, Colin Dexter as well as Prof Sue Black, the UK's leading forensic anthropologist. Their series of 'Industry Forums' include: How to Get Published in the Crime World; How to Write Crime for Radio. The PBFA will be hosting a specialist bookfair at the same event.  

Next Month: The feature for August will be by Diaskari Books

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