Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Terry Pratchett and B-Space I-Space S-Space a bit of a Zoom-in about modern first editions.

Zoom in on the planet, pretty much any country will do as long as the language there is the same as one you can read.

This is a critical path story, sorry, the story of the Critical Path. The path leads to a book by Terry Pratchett. A first edition? Maybe.

Now if it wasn’t for a series of unfortunate events I would still be running a new independent bookshop and not the secondhand bookshop that I am running now.

Let’s for a moment step down a different trouser leg of time where Terry is still alive and writing and has a new book coming out about gnomes and steam ships called "Abaft the Beam" and priced at £20.

In this leg I am a billionaire and have decided to carry on running the small chain of independent new bookshops in Hertfordshire, my brother running the one in St
Albans, my father running the one in Stevenage and me running the ones in Welwyn-Garden-City and Hitchin. This was roughly what was happening thirty five years ago.

So the new book comes out priced £20 the bookseller makes his money out of the discount he or she gets and buys it from a wholesaler who also makes their money from the discount.

The publisher sells it to the wholesaler for £8 who sells it to the bookseller to £12 who sells it to the reader for £20, I am a billionaire so the business of the publisher selling it to Amazon for £8 who sells it to the reader for £12 including postage, doesn’t worry me. Sorry this is no good.

Anyway down a different trouser leg zoom in on the planet, we shall call it Earth, zoom in on the country, we shall call it England, zoom in on the town, we shall call it Ramsgate, Zoom in on the bookshop, we shall call it Michael’s.

L-Space as Pratchett readers will know is the dimension that connects all libraries in every known dimension. Here in England the libraries used to primarily be repositories for books, however having tried to compete with Blockbuster and then various internet cafés, they really don’t have so many books anymore. L-Space on Earth has had to mutate because of this, there are lots of books on the internet, but I-Space didn’t work. When the test daemons finally emerge from the wiring and into the earpiece we can only hope it will be in the call centre that tried to steal our password. B-Space and W-Space has made some inroads into Waterstones but mostly seems to fizzle out around the coffee machines in Nero’s – possibly N-space.


S-Space however has always existed in secondhand bookshops – where the truly wild books are. There was a falling out, a severance over rubber-stamps and finally sellotape, but there are doors – probably portals, so zoom in on the fiction.


Not the children’s fiction that’s just juvenile you will get nomes not gnomes in Broeliad.




Zoom in on the fiction


 zoom in on the fantasy fiction


adult fantasy fiction is not called phantasy


which you will find up another passageway


in the S-Space of the bookshop


for this particular quest.


Are you holding onto you string in the maze?


You need hardback fantasy fiction



where the modern first editions are to be found not the valuable ones



this is a different matter think inclusive, think anoraks, think pins, think stamp collecting but also think of a decent sewed copy that will last for numerous reads and will look attractive on the shelves. Although everything falls apart around Unseen Academicals where the UK first edition was perfect bound. What? Far from perfect.
So consider the pictures of Monstrous Regiment, which one is the first edition? They both are, the one on the left is the UK first printing the one on the right the US first edition.

Or consider the two copies of Snuff both UK first editions, one for Waterstones and one for everyone else.

 In this case the first revised edition of The Carpet people 1992, worth about £6 as opposed to the 1971 Colin Symthe edition worth about £700 but around £200 if it has been through L-Space, see http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/offer-listing/0900675497/ref=tmm_hrd_used_olp_sr?ie=UTF8&condition=used&qid=1460476809&sr=8-1  

Back in the day the stuff you would look for - not to be there - was Second Impression, Third Impression. this means it's a third impression of the first edition, sometimes called a first edition thus. What? Not a first edition. 

 Now look carefully at the numbers in the little red box I have drawn on the photo to highlight them, this time it's the other way around, something isn't there making this not a first edition. What? 135 42
Staying with Tiff for a Mo look at the numbers on this one, which is a first edition.

Making Money crops up in this sort of thing, what’s it worth? Not much with these very modern firsts after around 2000 AD that is. A fine copy (like new) about £7, if it’s a bit scruffy – has someone’s name written on it – has the price clipped off the jacket, well about £2.50.

But in years to come, when there are very few fine copies about and people are trying to complete sets of fine first editions, probably quite a bit. Why would anyone collect pins? Not for the money.    


I don’t know if you have ever heard of the card game Solo Whist there is a bid called Misère Ouverte, where the idea is to win no tricks with your hand placed face up on the table after the first trick is complete.

In the bookselling business I have played my first trick and am now playing with my hand face up on the table, hence the blog with the photos of the books going on the shelves in my bookshop every day at http://michaelsbookshop.blogspot.co.uk/

I guess if independent bookselling in the UK has to be Misère then there isn’t much reason why secondhand bookselling in the UK can’t be Ouverte but not over.

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