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Three Things… #2 – documentaries, and the price of books…

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I quite enjoyed my first go at this nice little meme, thought up by Paula, where we post about what we’re Reading, Looking and Thinking. So I thought I would share again where I am – a little snapshot of my state of mind today, you might say!

Reading

Choices, choices…

I’m dipping into a number of books at the moment, mostly shorter ones after the epic, mammoth, involving and wonderful read that was “The Aviator”. There are the next couple of Penguin Moderns and a pair of lovely review classics from Ampersand. Also on the immediate TBR is “Flights” and a very interesting-sounding British Library Crime Classic, “The Division Bell”. As well as books, I’m trying to catch up on the issues of the London Review of Books which have been massing on the coffee table, along with copies of the TLS (a Russian special) and the latest “Happy Reader”. Plenty to keep the avid bibliophile amused….

Looking

Great excitement chez the Ramblings, as BBC4 (finally!) decide to repeat one of the Documentaries that Distracted last year – and probably my favourite. The three-part “Utopia: In Search of the Dream”, written and presented by Professor Richard Clay, was one my viewing highlights of 2017, so I’m glad to see it getting another airing. The series was a bracing and eclectic mix, looking at utopias, dystopias, repressive regimes (from both sides of the politic divide), architecture, art, music et al – very broad indeed. I’d recommend catching the series while you can if you have access to BBC4 or the iPlayer – thought-provoking stuff!

Which obliquely leads on to…

Thinking

A topic vexing my mind lately has been the cost of books. Not just ordinary new books, which do of course vary according to where you buy them, and in what format; but older, out of print or rarer titles that seem to fluctuate madly according to the day of the week.

Of course, we all know that a certain big river store’s prices are often slashed wildly and that real bookshops struggle to compete. There’s the issue also of local shops not always stocking what you want, but as they now all seem to be able to order in quickly I’m finding myself drawn back to Waterstones and the like, and if I have to order online I tend to go for Wordery nowadays who seem quite a decent lot.

The iconoclasm books continue to breed…. =:o

However, old or rare books are a different kettle of (vegan) fish. It was the “Iconoclasm in Revolutionary Paris: the Transformation of Signs” book by the aforementioned Richard Clay which got me thinking about values. As I’ve posted about on here before, I had been unable to find this one at a sensible price anywhere, so I resorted to getting Youngest Child to borrow it from her University library over Christmas. With second-hand copies going at over £1,000, I wasn’t going to be owning a copy any time soon.

But I set up alerts on a number of online booksellers and one morning, ping! A load of messages starting to come in with Reasonably Priced and Brand New copies available at under £100. So as I’ve posted, I picked up a copy and was dead chuffed. However, the interesting follow-up to this is that I never got round to cancelling all the alerts and messages are still rolling in with copies for sale – and the price since I bought my copy has been gradually creeping up and up, until a recent email dropped in offering a second-hand version for an eye-watering £8,792.58…. Yes, really…. And it seems to keep going up…

One of my rarer Viragos…

So WHY is it that some book prices vary so intensely and what sets the value? I know this one is an academic book, published in limited quantities by a smaller publisher, but is it simply the rarity value? It’s not only academic books that can have rare prices – I know Jane at Beyond Eden Rock has written about Margery Sharp’s “Rhododendron Pie” which is almost impossible to find at a decent price; and when I first wanted to read A.A. Milne’s “Four Days’ Wonder” it was prohibitively priced so I didn’t bother. I guess it’s some kind of complex calculation of the rarity of the book vs the amount of people who want to read it; when Simon at Stuck in a Book first blogged about “Guard Your Daughters”, the price of second-hand copies rocketed; and Anne Bridge’s “Illyrian Spring”, long sought after by Virago devotees, commanded silly prices before its reprint by Daunt Books.

I guess the moral is simple: if you want a book, and you see it at a price you’re prepared to pay, grab it. Certainly, I’m very glad I got hold of my iconoclasm book when I did – because there’s no way I could afford getting on for nine grand!!!!

*****

So there’s a snapshot of where my head is at the moment – full of books, magazines, documentaries and iconoclasm – the usual rambling and eclectic mix! 🙂

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The Hesperus Catalogue appears and the wishlist expands….

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High excitement here on the Ramblings as the Hesperus blog alerted us to the arrival of the Spring 2014 catalogue!

The appearance of a new catalogue of any of your favourite publishers is always cause for joy (the Alma Classics one just arrived too, and my wish list swelled instantly). However, I was particularly delighted to see that Hesperus are going to be republishing “Guard Your Daughters” by Diana Tutton!

GYD was the subject of much discussion and debate last year when Simon at Stuck-in-a-Book’s discovery and championing of it set many of us bloggers off reading and reviewing it (mine here). Most loved it, though there were dissenters (but that’s the joy of book blogging) and I personally found it a fascinating and thought-provoking read. The book has been out of print for ages and we were reduced to tracking down second-hand copies. So the fact that Hesperus are going to put it out again is a great joy – well done Hesperus!

This is what the cover will look like – very stylish!

daughters

The catalogue can be accessed here:

http://hesperuspress.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/just-in-heperus-press-spring-2014-catalogue/

and there are some lovely forthcoming delights.

Still on the subject of Hesperus, the latest book club volume has arrived in the form of “The Best Book in the World” – a satire on book publishing and marketing itself. I’ve been greatly looking forward to this one as I think it will be right up my street – so as soon as I finish the chunkster it will be next on my list!

The Best Book in the World

As for Alma Classics, they publish a *lot* of lovely Russians (to which I am obviously quite partial!) – and they’ve recently launched a lovely little range called Evergreens, reasonably priced at £4.99 (though in fact currently available at £3.99 on their site here) and featuring such titles as “Wuthering Heights” and upcoming books like Gogol’s “Petersburg Tales” and Dostoevsky’s “The Idiot” – very exciting! Here’s to independent publishers!

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