The 2005/6 edition of Secondhand & Antiquarian Bookshops in Scotland
has just been published. This is the only guide of its kind and can be bought in many secondhand bookshops in Scotland. It is produced by Eddie Fenwick as a labour of love and is a bargain at only £1.
Scotland's Premier Book Fair in 2005 will be held in the Assembly Rooms, George Street, Edinburgh on Friday 25th March (noon - 7pm) and Saturday 26th March (10am - 5pm). There will be approximately 50 exhibitors (including ourselves) from throughout the UK. Admission is free. If you want to see the best selection of antiquarian and secondhand books in Scotland this year, don't miss it ! And if you want to see a list of all of the bookfairs we will be exhibiting at this year, either click here or on the link in the left menu.
A slightly belated Happy New year to all of our customers and our sincere thanks to everyone who bought from us during the year. 2004 was by far our best ever year for internet sales which, admittedly, is not surprising as we now have nearly 3500 books online, almost 1000 more than at this time last year.
All of our internet stock is kept in our storeroom and just a few weeks ago we realised that, given the way we had laid it out, we were about to run out of space. So we redesigned the layout in a way that meant the room would take 5000 books instead of 3500, bought some racking and spent 10 hours on a cold, wet, December Sunday taking all 3500 books off the shelves, putting in the new racking and putting all the books back on the shelves. Never again ! But at least it's done so we can list a lot more books this year without worrying about running out of space.
So far I have managed to keep moans out of these notes, but nobody's perfect !
One unfortunate result of the internet revolution is that there are now a number of second-hand bookshops which are really only fronts for internet selling. These operate in different ways but at their most extreme the bookseller lists all worthwhile books he purchases on, say, ebay, stocking the shop only with cheaper items which he knows he will be unable to sell online and with books which he has been unable to sell online. There is no reason, of course, why a bookseller should not carry on business in this way but it is rather galling to travel a distance to visit a second-hand bookshop for the first time only to find that the worthwhile stock is not available to purchase.
One of the highlights of our bookselling year so far has been the joint ABA/PBFA bookfair in the Assembly Rooms, George Street, Edinburgh in late March. This was probably the largest secondhand bookfair there has been in Scotland in recent years and was most enjoyable and successful.
On the internet front we have at last reached a total of 3000 books for sale. We have been adding 2 small collections that we recently bought, one of Edinburgh books (which can be found in our Scotland catalogue) and the other of books on Medicine, including a number of New Sydenham Society publications from the end of the 19th century. These are to be found in our Science / Medicine Catalogue.
One of the most frequently asked questions of any bookseller is "Where do you buy your books ?". When we started to sell books a number of years ago the honest answer to that question would have been "mostly from second-hand bookshops". In the late 1980's and early 1990's the internet had not yet revolutionised bookselling and it was possible to find a wide variation in prices between shops.
Today we find it much more difficult to buy from bookshops. One effect of the internet has been to bring about a greater sameness in pricing making it more difficult to buy from fellow dealers. Now, therefore, most of our books are bought either at auction or from private sellers but there are still just a few bookshops which we find it worthwhile to visit on the age-old hunt for a bargain !
Happy New Year to all our customers. We thank everyone who bought from us in 2003 and promise we shall do our best to list as many interesting books as possible in 2004.
We ended 2003 with 2500 books on our site, which is on course for our target of 3000 books online by April. We also had one of our best ever months for internet sales in December which is very encouraging.
A new feature has been added to our website. Each year we exhibit at about 15 - 20 book fairs organised by the PBFA and we have listed all of our 2004 fairs on this page. As it happens these include all of the PBFA Scottish fairs, so the list is a useful guide to them. For a complete list of all PBFA fairs in the UK, please visit this page.
We now have 2200 books on the site and hope to increase this to approximately 3000 books by next spring. At this time last year we had a store of about 130 boxes of books waiting to be uploaded. We have now got that down to about 30 boxes and look forward to the day - which may never arrive ! - when we are up to date and listing books as we buy them.
Our bookfair calendar for the rest of the year is :
- Glasgow - Sat 18th October in the Henry Wood Hall, Claremont Street.
- Edinburgh - Fri 31st October and Sat 1st November in the Assembly Rooms, George Street.
- Edinburgh - Sat 6th December in the Assembly Rooms, George Street.
In August and September bookfairs figure prominently on our calendar. Earlier this month we had a very enjoyable day at a well organised fair near Glamis followed by a beautiful summer evening drive over the Cairn o' Mount and South Deeside roads to Ballater where we had an equally enjoyable fair the following day.
This past week we exhibited at the Edinburgh Festival fair, which, although reduced from two weeks to one is still the longest single fair in the PBFA callendar
On 19th and 20th September we shall be exhibiting at the Barbican Centre, York. This is the largest PBFA fair with about 200 dealers. We shall be happy to send a complimentary ticket on request to any customer who buys a book from this site.
Finally we shall be at the Aberdeen bookfair on 27th and 28th September which is to be held this year in the Treetops Hotel.
Today we'll try some simple arithmetic. If we have 900 books on our website at the beginning of May and would like to have 1000 books listed by the end of May, how many new books do we have to put on the site ?
The answer (we hope !) is not 100, because that would mean we had sold no books during the month.
If (to keep it simple) we sell 5% of our existing books during the month and none of the new books we put on, then the answer is we have to list 145 new books during the month.
If we change the figures to 1900 books on the site at the beginning of May, with a target of 2000 by the end of the month then, assuming the same percentage of sales, we have to list 195 books during the month ie. 50 books more than in the previous example.
This is meant to prove 2 things:
- The more books there are on our site, the harder it becomes to increase their number, always assuming that the percentage of sales remains constant.
- The fact that the actual number of books on our site is not increasing dramatically does not mean that we are taking a prolonged holiday. We have now reached the stage, with just over 2000 books on the site, where we have to work quite hard just to stand still ! However we do hope to have 3000 books listed at this time next year, with most of the increase taking place during the winter months. At some point we will reach an equilibrium, but only time will tell at what point that will be.
We are pleased to say that the Scottish Borders Bookfair was a success, with a good attendance throughout the day. We hope this will now become an annual event.
We've made one small change to the site - you can now see how many books are in each catalogue.
This month we have been putting out posters in all of the border towns for the Scottish Borders Book Fair.
We have also put adverts in several local newspapers, so here's hoping for a good turnout !
We have still managed to add lots of books this month to this site and we have now almost reached 2000 titles for sale.
We have been very busy with bookfairs over the past two weekends, firstly at Harrogate on the 21st and 22nd of March and then at Edinburgh at 28th and 29th of March. Harrogate was a very enjoyable and successful fair as was the first day of Edinburgh. Unfortunately the second day of Edinburgh coincided with a rugby international, a football international and an anti-war demonstration which meant it was a little quieter than usual !
We have still found time, however, to add 108 books to our site today. We hope you will find something of interest among them.
The database has been updated today.
Seventy new books have been added.
We are organising the Scottish Borders bookfair on behalf of the P.B.F.A. (Provincial Booksellers Fairs Association) of
which we are members. It is to be held at :
St. John Street,
on Saturday 3rd May from 10am to 5pm and we expect there to be about 25 dealers present (split almost evenly between Scottish and English dealers). This will probably be the biggest ever second-hand bookfair in the Borders and we are hoping for a high attendance. Admission will be free!
Welcome to our new site which was completed this evening. The database has also been updated with 130 new books which brings us up to 1761 books for sale.
We will be exhibiting at St. Andrews Bookfair on Friday 7 March and at Glasgow bookfair (in the Mitchell library) on Saturday 8 March.