Archives for category: Out of Print

I am I suppose a bibliophile. I love books – not just reading, I like a ‘real’ book. I don’t have a Kindle because of that, (and a few other reasons that I won’t go into here), as I like the feel and often the very smell of a book. I like the fact that the battery will never run out, and if I am unlucky enough to leave it on the tube, then I can probably buy another without having to pay a large amount of money. Nor do I have to give any details to the shop from which I purchase it. I can pay cash and disappear through the bookshelves, never to be seen again, if I so desire.

Sadly, though modern books often smell of a peculiar plastic. They are often published on ‘art paper’. Sometimes they re-issue books that I have known before, with the same text, but with an artist’s rendition that is nothing like that I grew up with, or particularly like.

Sometimes too ‘they’ decide there is no longer a market for a book, and the title is no longer available and it goes Out of Print, and I cannot simply order it either from work or at home. There are also titles that have been long Out of Print. That I couldn’t, with all good consciousness expect to be In Print. Books for example about the taboos and vintana of Madagascar that were originally printed in Norway in 1960

ruud-taboo-front1I don’t think there are many people looking for that title, and yet it is one that I very much wanted to read.

So, what do we do about those books that have recently been delegated as no longer wanted by the  reading public, or that were published so long ago and are too esoteric a subject for modern publishers to think of reprinting?

You can of course go to book fairs, and search their shelves. I go to one once a month and enjoy searching the shelves and sometimes find things I have been wanting to read. At other times a trip to a fair can mean that there is a new title I’d like to read, if only I could afford it. Often though I can’t find the book I want, though sometimes there might be a small run of the series I would like, but it is the wrong edition. Or more frustratingly I can’t afford it and have to just take the opportunity to look carefully through it and know that one day, perhaps, I might be an owner of such a volume.

vialibriSo, if I know what I want, and have the title and author I will sometimes resort to using the search engine viaLibri

Without going into too much detail, the site searches bookshop data bases for the title and author along with any other specifications that you put in and often in a few moments comes back with a list of stores that have a copy. These volumes are second-hand or even antiquarian and are often rare. Each entry has details of its condition, cost and location. This last is important because of postage charges, which can severely increase the total cost of a book purchased in this fashion and also how long it will take to reach you.

Amongst other things you can specify the title, author, part title, whether you want a dust jacket, a first edition or a copy that has no ISBN assigned to it.  You also need to tick the box that designates the currency in which the price will be given.

Retailers that use the search engine include Amazon, and a company called ABE which is part of Amazon too, and depending on your views you may purchase books from them through viaLibri, or directly from the Amazon site.  Biblio are another group of booksellers advertising their stock through viaLibri and seem to be honest and their prices reasonable.

viaLibri is a very useful tool, however, it is not as much fun as searching through shelves in a book fair and suddenly coming across a book that is wanted; whether I knew I wanted it before I entered the book fair,

or not…







First published in 1954 by Harper and Brothers.

The paperback edition I read was published by the Natural History Library in 1964

Now out of print – The Internet site Vialibri may be able to trace a copy.

I was given the paperback edition of this by a very good friend of mine after my trip to Madagascar. It relates the experiences of a newly qualified American anthropologist and her first trip into West Africa to stay with and learn from the local tribes. By turn it made me laugh, horrified and charmed me. It is a fictional account, ‘An anthropological novel’, but based on real experiences.

Africa will always be close to my heart. My mother and her siblings were born there, and my favourite uncle lived there until his death.  I have had some fantastic holidays and experiences there too, both with those who are indigenous and others who are / were not and it is probably this that made me love the book as much as I have.

Apart from relating the views, philosophy, society and life of the various people she came across, it also prompted me to look at the way we behave and to wonder what an anthropologist would think of us, our beliefs, and our society.

It is and was a superb book.

Elenore Smith Bowen is the nom de plume of Laura Bohannan and she included an author’s note:

All the characters in this book, except for myself, are fictitious in the fullest meaning of that word. I knew people of the type I have described here; the incidents of the book are of the genre I myself experienced in Africa. Never-the-less, so much is fiction…Here I have written simply as a human being, and the truth I have tried to tell concerns the sea change in oneself that comes from immersion in another and savage culture.

One of the joys of second-hand, rare or antiquarian books is that sometimes they have that glorious smell that only comes with age. I think Stephen Fry did a ‘thing’ about it on QI – and if I remember correctly stated that the aroma I so enjoyed was from a fungus, that produced aphrodisiac spores.

If that isn’t the case and I either dreamt that or invented it, then it is as good a reason for me to love it as any other.

This small volume is permeated with that wonderful aroma, and is treasured all the more for that, and that my friend thought to give it to me.


Published by Walker Books ISBN 978 1406306682 Hardback

Published by Walker Books ISBN 978 1406325911 Paperback – Poss. Out of Print
Is one of the greatest adventure stories of all time – a true classic. In these editions the story is unabridged.

For those who don’t know Treasure Island I should I perhaps give a little introduction. The book introduces the reader to Jim Hawkins and relates Jim’s adventures on the high seas where he meets a range of colourful characters and ultimately  of course  that marvellous villain, Long John Silver…and of course Captain Flint! It is a volume full of adventure, pirates, treasure, swashbuckling, fights and of course a parrot…

It was initially published in a beautiful large format hardback.

Sadly though not so good should you wish to curl up by a fire to read as it is perhaps a little too large. It must be said though that the hardback edition does show off John Lawrence’s illustrations to perfection.

The smaller paperback with the extended paper-boards that fold back into the book, (thus giving the book more strength) is a lovely volume. Printed on cream paper with the same illustrations as the hardback it is, however, the right size for reading under the bedclothes.

I once had a customer who was thinking of buying a copy of Treasure Island. It was the first English book he had read and he thought he might read it again, but did we have a nice copy? Which is always a difficult question…

When shown this he said it was exactly what he wanted and that the illustrations were just right – they supported what he remembered imagining when he first read it, and promptly bought it.

I am unsure whether you can  still purchase this book new – however you can always try the Internet site Via Libri if you find you are unable to track one down in the usual way.

This book is perfect, apart from one fact – it seems to have gone out of print.

I am an admirer of John Lawrence’s illustrations and with this book, in my view he surpassed himself. The detail is extraordinary and combined with Chris Butterworth’s informative text makes this a perfect book. Sadly it seems, now out of print. It was published both in hardback and paperback by Walker Books, who really ought to look at their back lists to make sure that gems like this and Treasure Island, also by illustrated by John Lawrence do not find their way on their remaindered or out of print lists.

Some would say it is down to sales – and to a degree this is true. We have less contact with publishers in the stores these days, so it is up to them to make sure that the old beautifully worked books are brought to the relevant people’s attention.

This is a book, that is informative, accurate and beautifully illustrated.

There is an Intenet site called Via Libri – if you can’t trace this volume any other way, I suggest you look at their site. Just be carefull about the condition and where the book is coming from.