Sunday, 8 September 2013

Off with the fairies, some thoughts about secondhand children’s books and other ramblings.

For the most part the children’s books in my bookshop are aimed at children and in terms of sale pricing, balancing prices against the internet I have come to the children’s books in my bookshop.

Reduction in price being dictated by two factors, firstly to make sure you can’t get the book online for less cost than I have in on the shelf in my bookshop and secondly knocking back the prices of the books that have been on the shelf for a long time.

The bulk of the general books, for younger children, particularly, when I haven’t heard of the author have suffered the fate of 99p, 50p or less.

You have to be a very hungry caterpillar to make the dizzy heights of £1.50.

The pristine Thomas the Tank Engine books and the likewise Noddy books remain at the dizzy heights of £1.99.

Finally I got past the books referred to in the trade as children’s flats and got stuck into the more conventional shaped stuff.

How does it go then with the more expensive children’s books, these are the ones usually bought by adults for adults, the fairy books are a good example.

Now looking at the picture of the paperback copies of different coloured fairy books on the shelf in my bookshop, you would think the prices would be pretty much standard and that you could buy any colour you want new when you want it from the internet at a pretty standard price.

You could download them as an ebook for nothing I expect, but you know how it is.

Depending on the colour and with a lot of effort combined with weeks of waiting, you could probably source the ones in the picture online, new for about £8 to £10 each. Over course of a few months you could probably source them secondhand on the internet for about a fiver each. A problem here would be trying to work out what condition they were in.

Looking at nice hardback copies, the Folio Society ones are fairly ok, once again the price isn’t easy to work out, we have this one in stock for £20.

 A really nice first edition is hard to find and will set you a couple of hundred.

Going on to Enid Blyton fiction, fives, sevens and so on, well a fine paperback copy in my shop is £1.99, any signs of previous ownership and prices less 20p if the are really dog-eared.

Anyway enough of this and on to the ramble and some pictures as you can seen I have been about during the last few days.

I have just cooked Sunday dinner, we had one of those technical problems recently when it comes to music, films, TV, radio and so on, I don’t throw much away and we have it on all sorts of formats and equipment to play it so it will come out of a telly and stereo speakers in the kitchen and the living room. The video card in the living room computer that feeds into this fried, anyway it is mended now and I was able to watch the last night of the proms on the tv in the kitchen with the sound coming through loudspeakers there while cooking dinner.     

With this mixed media thing, I remember it was not so very long ago people were telling me to get rid of my vinyl records and convert to cds, well now the cd is pretty much redundant, I am getting this advice about the vhs tapes, but they still work ok, so what would be the point.

The paper book however is a much stranger consideration, I don’t think the e-book has replaced it although like the Kindle it is working alongside, but only up to a point.

There is something here, perhaps something that needs investigation perhaps related to the way we learn to read, possibly Peter and Jane on a screen will change this, possibly not. The youf of today seem to need stuff on paper to be able to study properly. 


  1. Most interesting post this, Michael, and children's books still seem to capture the attention of many collectors. You did not touch on Rupert Annuals which seem to vary tremendously in price around the bookshops and fairs. Are there particular years one should look out for?

    Agree with you about the young of today still wanting paper sources for their studies and the new specific to syllabus and examination booklets are an enormous price in places like WH Smith. One oft wonders if older second hand versions are just as good or does the exam syllabus change each year. Possibly true of history and English literature, but surely maths and science subjects cannot vary much?

    1. William I usually have about 100 Rupert Annuals in stock, varying in price between about £1 and a few hundred. With the modern Rupert annuals if they are in fine condition, which equates to like new we sell them for around a fiver, the slightest sign of use and this goes down to about £3 and if they have been price clipped or have had someone’s name filled in the price goes down even more.

      The first Rupert annual was issued in 1936, the only one issued with a dustwrapper and a nice one in it’s dustwrapper would set you back over a grand, with a nice one without a dustwrapper costing over £350.

      The wartime paper shortage ones were issued as paperbacks these sell mostly for over a hundred.

      The ones issued between 1960 and 1968 had magic paintings, you got the page wet and the colours appeared, ones without the magic paintings done sell for over a hundred.

      Facsimiles have been published of the early Rupert annuals and these sell for between ten and fifty pounds.

      So what are the golden rules:

      If the cover isn’t shiny then it is probably worth more than a tenner.

      If you can’t find the date on it then it’s probably worth more than a tenner.

      Be very suspicious of copies for sale online that don’t say, no inscriptions, not price clipped and don’t describe the overall condition in detail.

  2. It is interesting to hear that Rupert is still treasured. He was my favourite as a child.

    Michael, Do you have a copy of Sir Arthur Bryant's 'Freedom's Own Island' and 'The Search For Justice'?

    I've got 'Set In A silver Sea' but I've lost 'Freedom's Own Island'. I've never had 'The Search For Justice' due to its price, which the last time I looked was new at a couple of hundred pounds! A dog eared copy at a fraction of that price would suit me.

    1. John only got Protestant Island in stock, I would say the titles you are looking for are now much cheaper than they were with both being available on Amazon for less than three pounds including post also a nice copy on ebay at the moment.

  3. We finally get a post entitled 'Off with the Fairies' and yet neither Rick or 0% comment.


Please note comments that may be libellous, comments that may be construed as offensive, anonymous derogatory comments about real people, comments baiting internet trolls, comments saying that an anonymous comment was made by a named real person, boring comments and spam comments, comments in CAPs will be deleted. Playground stuff like calling real people by their time stamp or surname alone, referring to groups as gangs, old duffers and so on will result in deletion. Comment that may be construed as offensive to minority groups is not allowed here either, so think before you write it, remember that the internet is a public place, that it is very difficult to be truly anonymous and that everyone who uses it leaves a trail of some sort. Also note the facility to leave anonymous comment will be turned of during periods when I am unable to monitor comment, this will not affect people commenting who are signed on to their blogger accounts. When things are particularly difficult on the commercial spam front I may turn comment moderation on for periods.

If you feel that someone has left a comment that is offensive and directed at you personally please email me (link on the sidebar) asking to have it removed, you will need to tell which post and the date and timestamp of the offending comment. Please do not reply to the offending comment as I will assume you continuing the dialogue as meaning that you want the comments left there.