AbeBooks' Reading Copy

AbeBooks book blog

Advanced Search Browse Books Rare Books Textbooks
Advanced Search

The 5th Annual Galiano Literary Festival: Feb 21-23

Galiano Literary FestivalNestled among the Southern Gulf Islands on the coast of British Columbia, Galiano Island is home to birds, wildlife, and bibliophiles. Presented by Galiano Island Books, the fifth annual Galiano Island Literary Festival takes place February 21st-23rd, 2014 at the Galiano Oceanfront Inn and Spa.

A gathering of some of British Columbia’s best writers, the festival is a celebration of local culture and talent. The list of participating authors is a long and impressive one, and includes Canada’s first Poet Laureate George Bowering. Designed with readers in mind, attendees will have ample opportunity to mingle with writers throughout the weekend, including over an intimate Author’s Dinner.

Books from Galiano Literary Festival Authors:

Fly in Autumn by David Zieroth

The Fly in Autumn
David Zieroth

Death was in the Blood by Linda L. Richards

Death Was in the Blood
Linda L. Richards


Congratulations to our Hackathon contestants

Congratulations to everyone who took part in the second AbeBooks’ Hackathon, staged in conjunction with the University of Victoria’s computer science and software engineering programs this past weekend. This 24-hour coding challenge saw three teams of students deliver demonstrations of remarkable quality.

The judges from AbeBooks were treated to a Chrome extension that tracked and recorded a viewer’s Anime episode consumption, a website that recorded prices and coupons for products from local retailers, and a java script tool for a 3D product display system.

One team recorded their adventures as they worked, so enjoy this video, and we’ll see you all next year.

Rare copy of Twelve Years a Slave sells for $3,500

A rare second printing of Twelve Years a Slave — Narrative of Solomon Northup has sold for $3,500 on AbeBooks. The full title of this book is Twelve Years a Slave — Narrative of Solomon Northup. A Citizen of New York, Kidnapped in Washington City in 1841, and Rescued in 1853, From a Common Plantation Near the Red River, in Louisiana.

Published in 1853, this historic slavery memoir is the basis for the movie, Twelve Years a Slave – the bookmaker’s favorite to win this year’s Oscar for best picture.

The book details Northup’s kidnapping, sale into slavery, and plantation life in Louisiana. It was published shortly after Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin and was an immediate bestseller. Steve McQueen’s acclaimed movie has given the book a new audience.

Second Annual 24-hour AbeBooks’ Hackathon

AbeBooks' Hackathon

The second annual AbeBooks’ Hackathon kicks off January 31st at 4pm.  Over a 24 hour period, students in the University of Victoria computer science and software engineering programs will be challenged to produce an innovative application using the Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud computing platform.  At the conclusion, the students will demonstrate their work to a team of AbeBooks’ software engineers, who will award a series of prizes. Entries will be judged in a variety of categories: Best use of big data, Best mobile experience, Best use of AWS, Best use of social data, and more.

Students can compete individually or in groups of up to four. It’s free to participate and all entrants will receive a commemorative t-shirt and a valuable learning experience with AWS; access to which will be provided by AbeBooks for the coding competition.

Individuals or teams can still register by emailing their name(s) and contact details to hackathon@abebooks.com.

The Daphne Award: Righting the Wrongs of Book Awards Past

the-favourite-game-cohenThe good folks over at Bookslut have announced plans for a new book award. Dubbed the Daphne Award, it will celebrate the best books of 50 years ago and ‘right the wrongs’ of book awards past.

As an afficionado of old books, I love this idea. And always up for a challenge, I couldn’t resist trying to answer Bookslut’s call for help with their list of nominees and spent some time this week hunting down treasures published in 1963. It was an interesting year in the literary world, with books by some authors who were newcomers at the time but who have since become very familiar – Joyce Carol Oates, John Fowles, Larry McMurtry, Mario Vargas Llosa, to name just a few.

I’m already coveting most of the books on Bookslut’s lists of potential nominees but still managed to find a few more to throw into the mix – and to add to my own wish-list.

Here are just some of the best, overlooked books from 1963.


The Collector by John Fowles
The Gift by Vladimir Nabokov (first English translation published in 1963)
Leaving Cheyenne by Larry McMurtry
The Favourite Game by Leonard Cohen
La Ciudad y Los Perros (The Time of the Hero) by Mario Vargas Llosa
The Barracks by John McGahern
By the North Gate by Joyce Carol Oates
The Bender by Paul Scott
Visions of Gerard by Jack Kerouac
Inside Daisy Clover by Gavin Lambertself-portrait-ray
Travelling People by B.S. Johnson


Strength to Love by Martin Luther King
Self Portrait by Man Ray
The Presidential Papers by Norman Mailer
The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan
What is Remembered by Alice B. Toklas
Eight Men Out by Eliot Asinof


It Catches My Heart in Its Hands By Charles Bukowskizoo-munari
No Voyage by Mary Oliver
The Rising Fire by Gwendolyn MacEwen

Kids’ Books:

9 Magic Wishes by Shirley Jackson
Bruno Munari’s Zoo
How the Whale Became by Ted Hughes
Hold Fast Your Teeth by Edward Bawden

Remembering John Banville’s 1970 debut

Our recent feature about debut novels includes Nightspawn by John Banville.

Now Banville is an interesting case as Nightspawn is actually his second book. He made his publishing debut with Long Lankin in 1970.  Long Lankin is a collection of short stories and is sadly rather forgotten these days. It contains nine stories of everyday life where people are influenced by the strongest emotions.

Banville keeps a low profile even though he is a past winner of the Man Booker Prize (2005 for The Sea). His titles are moderately collectible but could never be compared to rare Salman Rushdie books. Bag-End Books in Saskatoon, Canada, offers a signed first edition of Long Lankin – something of a rarity in the world of modern firsts.

Greg Foley, from Bag-End Books, offers these thoughts on Banville. “He was born in Ireland and follows in the tradition of so many other great Irish writers,” said Greg. “Though he is not as high profile as other UK writers, he has a committed following. At the Hay Festival in 2013, which I had the privilege of attending, his fans were very knowledgeable and enthusiastic.  The large crowd was extremely appreciate of Mr. Banville’s wit and erudition. Why did he begin his career with the short story? Many writers feel intimated by the immensity of a novel when they first begin writing and try their hand at short stories.”

Famous examples would be Ray Bradbury and Isaac Asimov who both began their writing careers with short stories.

Of course, Banville – who has worked as a sub-editor on The Irish Press and The Irish Times – is also Benjamin Black, the name he uses for his murder mystery books. He has written seven novels as Black and 16 under his real name.

2014 Newbery, Caldecott, and Printz Awards Announced


Flora & Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo is the 2014 winner of the John Newbery Medal, awarded by the American Library Association for the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children. Illustrated by K.G. Campbell, DiCamillo’s mash-up of comics, prose, and even poetry, is a high-energy romp about a lonely girl named Flora and her super-hero friend, Ulysses, who happens to be a squirrel.

This year’s winner of the Caldecott Medal for most distinguished picture book is Locamotive by Brian Floca, a detailed and beautifully illustrated story of 19th century train travel. And the 2014 Michael L. Printz Award for young adult literature went to Marcus Sedgwick’s Midwinterblood, a darkly atmospheric tale encompassing both past and future, told in reverse chronological order.Paperboy

The awards were announced on January 27 at the American Library Association’s midwinter conference in Philadelphia.

Newbery Award Honor Books:

Doll Bones by Holly Black

The Year of Billy Miller by Kevin Henkes

One Came Home by Amy Timberlake

Paperboy by Vince Vawter

Caldecott Award Honor Books:

Journey by Aaron Becker

Flora and the Flamingo by Molly IdleKingdom-of-Little-Wounds

Mr. Wuffles! by David Wiesner

Michael L. Printz Award Honor Books:

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

The Kingdom of Little Wounds by Susann Cokal

Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner, illustrated by Julian Crouch

Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool

From Written Word to Silver Screen: 17 books hitting theaters in 2014

Books have a long history of becoming great films. It goes without saying that the two make a good pair, in fact, five of this year’s Oscar Best Picture nominees are book-to-film titles. American Hustle is based on The Sting Man: Inside Abscam by Robert W. Greene. Captain Phillips was inspired by A Captain’s Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALs, and Dangerous Days at Sea by Captain Richard Phillips. Philomena: A Mother, Her Son, and a Fifty Year Search by Martin Sexsmith became Philomena starring Dame Judi Dench. Solomon Northup’s Twelve Years a Slave and Jordan Belfort’s Wolf of Wall Street are also on the list.

So what’s next? Here are 17 books hitting theaters in 2014:

Labor Day by Joyce Maynard

1. Labor Day by Joyce Maynard becomes a film of the same title, starring Kate Winslet.

2. The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History by Robert M. Edsel and Bret Witter becomes The Monuments Men starring George Clooney and Matt Damon.

3. Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead is a shoe-in for film following the Twilight phenomenon.

The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History by Robert M. Edsel and Bret Witter 4. Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin will star Colin Farell in it’s big screen adaptation.

5. Thérese Raquin by Émile Zola becomes the film In Secret, starring Elizabeth Olsen.

6. A Long Way Down is not the first Nick Hornby book to hit theaters.

7. Divergent by Veronica Roth is screaming blockbuster.

8. The Fault In Our Stars by John Green is yet another YA read turned movie.A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby

9. The Hundred-Foot Journey by Richard C. Morais stars none other than Helen Mirren.

10. The Giver by Lois Lowry will come to life with Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep.

11. Dark Places by Gillian Flynn isn’t the author’s only appearance on the big screen this year…

The Fault In Our Stars by John Green12. Gone Girl is also hitting theaters and stars Ben Affleck.

13. This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper stars funny man Jason Bateman.

14. Rainier and Grace by Jeffrey Robinson inspired the film Grace of Monaco starring Nicole Kidman as Grace Kelly.

15. Wild by Cheryl Strayed will feature Reese Witherspoon as the author who walks to redemption.

The Giver by Lois Lowry16. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand isn’t the author’s first film experience – she also wrote Seabiscuit.

17. Serena by Ron Rash will star on-screen duo Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper.

Get reading before you grab the popcorn!

Art Deco ephemera collection on display at Book Club of California

The Book Club of California is hosting a fascinating exhibition for fans of Art Deco, which opens on January 27 and runs until April 28. ‘Design for Modernity:  Art Deco Ephemera from the Collection of Bruce Shyer’ displays art deco motifs printed on programs, menus, travel brochures, matchbox and luggage labels, catalogs, playing cards, business cards, signs, sheet music, letterheads, blotters and much more.

Bruce Shyer, a retired attorney, currently serves as vice-president of the Ephemera Society of America. He is also a collector of books and ephemera about bookselling.

His collection is an insight into the stylish design era of the 1920s and 1930s. You will see chevrons, sunbursts, zigzags, lightning bolts, ray bands, and silhouettes galore if you go along to the Club, which is located on Sutter Street in San Francisco.

The gallery is open Monday to Friday, 10am to 5pm and it’s free. It opens with an event on January 27 between 5pm and 7pm where Mr Shyer will introduce his collection.

The Book Club of California celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2012. It’s a true haven for bibliophiles.

More details on the Art Dec exhibition.

The 75 Greatest Living Female Authors

Late last year we asked you, our loyal customers and keen bibliophiles, to name the greatest living female author. We knew J.K. Rowling would lead the votes after the final count, which she did by a country mile, but it was intriguing to see who would be next.

In short, it was Canada who ran closest to the Harry Potter creator, with Margaret ‘Peggy’ Atwood at No. 2 and Alice Munro at three. American Toni Morrison was in fourth place.

Rowling, Atwood, Munro and Morrison garnered the vast majority of the votes between them and there was some distance between them and Joyce Carol Oates, who is followed by Harper Lee, Joan Didion and Zadie Smith. Hilary Mantel and Barbara Kingsolver round out the top 10. Lee makes the list with just a single book to her name, To Kill a Mockingbird published in 1960.

Customers could vote for any living female writer, regardless of genre or standing or her number of published works, so this list is broad and stretches from bestsellers you find by the supermarket checkout to Nobel Prize winners and authors whose books are studied in universities. A number of these authors have been writing for decades and we should applaud the likes of Atwood, Morrison, Munro, Oates, Ursula Le Guin, Penelope Lively and PD James for their ability to regularly produce books that people want to read.

The 75 Greatest Living Female Authors

1. J.K. Rowling – no introduction needed but she is also Robert Galbraith.

2. Margaret Atwood – Canadian icon known for Handmaid’s Tale, Edible Woman.

3. Alice Munro – another Canadian, queen of short stories and Nobel winner.

4. Toni Morrison – Nobel winner in 1993, BelovedThe Bluest Eye and more.

5. Joyce Carol Oates – more than 40 novels since the 1960s.

6. Harper Lee – a true one-hit wonder but what a one-hit wonder!

7. Joan Didion – non-fiction, fiction, screenplays. She can do it all.

8. Zadie Smith – the top-ranked non-Rowling Brit, White Teeth put her on the map.

9. Hilary Mantel – double Booker winner and undisputed queen of historical fiction.

10. Barbara Kingsolver – fiction and non-fiction, Poisonwood Bible and more.

11. Marilynne Robinson – won Pulitzer in 2004, written four outstanding novels.

12. Anne Rice – Gothic fiction and erotica, and lots of die-hard fans.

13. Louise Erdrich – 14 novels with The Round House winning a National Book Award.

14. Anne Tyler – 20 novels including The Accidental Tourist.

15. Jhumpa Lahiri – short stories and novels make her a rising star.

16. Ursula Le Guin – prolific author of science fiction and fantasy, a legend.

17. Annie Proulx – Best known for Shipping News and the Brokeback Mountain short story.

18. Connie Willis – Hugo awarding-winning science fiction.

19. Maya Angelou – seven autobiographies including I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

20. Rose Tremain – written 13 novels since the 1970s.

21. Isabel Allende – the pride of Chile but adored throughout South America.

22. Alice Walker – always remembered for The Color Purple from 1982.

23. Gillian Flynn – Only written three novels but Gone Girl was a bestseller.

24. Donna Tartt – slow but good, just three novels published in three decades.

25. Amy Tan – six novels exploring mother-daughter relationships.

25. Suzanne Collins – young and old are hungry for the Hunger Games trilogy.

26. Elizabeth GilbertEat, Pray, Love has sold and sold and sold.

27. Beverly Cleary – bestselling children’s books with vibrant characters like Ramona Quimby.

28. Geraldine Brooks – Australian journalist with four successful novels.

29. Tamora Pierce – loved by teenagers for her feminist-themed fantasy.

30. Diana Gabaldon – genre-crossing writer famous for the Outlander series.

31. P.D. James – the English crime writer who created Adam Dalgliesh.

32. Sarah Waters – carved her own niche of Victorian-Lesbian fiction.

33. Anne Enright – nurse-turned-novelist best known for The Gathering.

34. Anne Perry – prolific writer of historical detective fiction.

35. Jeanette Winterson – burst onto the scene with Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit.

36. Nadine Gordimer – South African writer known for her political activism.

37. Anna Quindlen – former journalist who writes fiction and non-fiction.

38. Maggie O’Farrell – Northern Irish author of six novels.

39. Eleanor Catton – Her second novel, The Luminaries, won the 2013 Man Booker Prize.

40. Pat Barker – best known for her Regeneration trilogy.

41. Karen Russell – her debut novel, Swamplandia!, was widely acclaimed.

42. Kathy Reichs – a much-loved crime writer and forensic scientist.

43. Ruth Ozeki – Canadian-American novelist known for Tale of the Time Being.

44. Sue Grafton – American detective novelist best known for the Kinsey Millhone series.

45. Edna O’Brien – Irish novelist, memoirist, playwright, poet and short story writer.

46. Miriam Toews – Canadian author with six books to her name.

47. Philippa Gregory – historical novelist famous for the Tudor series.

48. Louise Penny – another Canadian, who pens compelling mystery novels.

49. Ann Patchett – best known for Bel Canto and State of Wonder.

50. Kate AtkinsonLife after Life won the Costa Prize in the UK.

51. Nora Roberts – the No. 1 name in romance (also writes as J.D. Robb).

52. Mary Roach – writes non-fiction with titles like Bonk, Stiff and Spook.

53. Laura Hillenbrand – memorable non-fiction like Seabiscuit and Unbroken.

54. Stephenie Meyer – the Twilight author captured the teen market.

55. Emma Donoghue – seven novels since 1994 but Room is the most popular.

56. Janet Evanovich – sells oodles of Stephanie Plum mysteries.

57. Sue Monk Kidd – Her first novel, The Secret Life of Bees, got her noticed.

58. Judy Blume – someone who has sold 80 million books can’t be bad.

59. Diane Setterfield – this British author is best known for The Thirteenth Tale.

60. Tracy Chevalier – historical novelist with seven books.

61. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – one of Africa’s brightest star with four novels.

62. Penelope Lively – too many books to mention, won Booker in 1987.

63. Mary Higgins Clark – ex-air stewardess who became a bestselling suspense writer.

64. Naomi Klein – three major non-fiction books including No Logo.

65. Jennifer EganA Visit from the Goon Squad won the 2011 Pulitzer for Fiction.

66. Kristine Rusch – talented writer of science fiction, fantasy, mystery and romance.


67. Deborah Harkness – professor of history who has written three novels.

68. Tanith Lee – British writer of sci-fi, horror and fantasy. 90+ novels.

69. S.E. Hinton – she wrote The Outsiders in high school.

70. Ruth Rendell- mystery writer who created Chief Inspector Wexford.

71. Cheryl Strayed – she walked to redemption with Wild.

72. Margaret Weis – expert creator of fantasy worlds.

73. Meg Cabot – best known for the The Princess Diaries.

74. Jodi Picoult – over 20 books and more in the pipeline.

75. Danielle Steel – a woman who needs no introduction.

Notable female writers who did not make the top 75 include Mary Stewart, Donna Leon, AS Byatt, Margaret Drabble, Anita Brookner, PC Cast, Lois Lowry, Joanna Trollope, Jane Urquart, Kate DiCamillo, Kiran Desai, Diana Wynne-Jones and Patricia Cornwell.

Switch to our mobile site