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The Beginning of the Affair: I Fell in Love with Books

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t read, at least a little bit, every single day. Throughout my childhood, I always read long after I was supposed to have turned out the light at night. In fact I still do, mindful not to laugh at the funny bits and wake my husband, gently snoring away next to me. Story time, then Reading, then English, then Literature – anything to do with books was always my absolute favorite class from pre-school all the way through to university.

I’m so grateful for this part of my life. No matter how busy or how broke I have ever been in my life, I have always found enough time and enough money to explore new authors, new stories, new worlds. Where did it start, this pleasure, this lifelong passion? What makes such booklovers of some of us, and infuses us with a fevered fervor for the written word?

My first book-related memory is a fuzzy one. The daughter of my mother’s friend was babysitting me, and had read me a story about fairies. I don’t remember what book specifically, but I remember falling asleep afterward, with vivid, absolutely lifelike pictures in my head of fairies in beautiful dresses, wearing acorn caps as hats, drinking from rain-filled buttercups, sleeping curled under spotted toadstools. As I fell asleep, I remember feeling a sense of delight and wonder that black marks on a page, words, could have caused these pictures and adventures to come to life in my head.

The main driver of my love of reading was undoubtedly my mother. A lifelong reader and book nerd herself, she couldn’t stop herself from making up rhymes and silly songs, and telling me stories both real and imagined. Fortunately, I loved it, as had my older sister before me. If you ask me what makes an adult a good reader for children, I think an enormous part of it is one’s willingness to abandon all self-consciousness and make a total fool of oneself in the name of fun. My mum did so like a pro, stomping about the room, making silly faces and of course doing different voices for all the characters. Even if sometimes the goal of bedtime (to lull a child into a drowsy state, ready for sleep) was wildly postponed, she made bedtime fun, and memorable, and happy. Some of the books I remember her reading include Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman, and Thump, Thump, Thump by Anne Rockwell. She was always happy to talk about books, or read the same story for the 10th night in a row, or make sure that the Christmas tree had several books among the brightly-colored packages under its branches. I look at my 14-month-old son now, and I read to him, and he laughs at the voices and smacks the pages, and I think – yes. Here we go.

One wonderful example of how the AbeBooks Wants System can work – one of the books my mother read to me most often when I was little was Am I a Bunny? by Ida DeLage. It was published two months after I was born. She and I both have very fond memories of our time with that book. So when I began my career with AbeBooks in 2000, I thought it would be a nice thing to get her a copy as a Mother’s Day present. Little did I know the book was long out-of-print and highly sought after. We had a copy on the site, sure, but it was $400! Far beyond too rich for my blood. So I created a “Want”, indicating that I would like to be notified if a copy came up for under $100.00. And in the 14 years since, that want has only been matched four times, including in 2004, when a copy for a very affordable price came available, and I had the quick thumbs and good fortune to secure the sale. My mum cried when she opened it on Mother’s Day. Worth every penny!


My first-grade teacher, Mrs. Hollick, very much furthered my love of reading. She was a gentle, kind woman, with a sense of humor and an obvious genuine love of children. And she was a born storyteller. She read us the Clement Clarke Moore poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas”, aka “Twas The Night Before Christmas” with such enthusiasm that we were all on the edge of our little seats. She delighted in teaching, and we all loved her so much we yearned to learn. In grade one we were mainly reading from those old-school reading primers, Dick and Jane style. I was ahead, having learned to read when I was three, so was allowed to do some reading on my own, quietly, during class as well.

One of my very favorite books from back then was The BFG by Roald Dahl. I absolutely loved it, and must have read it six times the month I got it. I couldn’t get enough. I believe it was the first I ever read of Roald Dahl’s books, and I quickly sought the others over the following years. The Witches was a favorite, as were Matilda and James and the Giant Peach . I liked The Twits and George’s Marvellous Medicine less, but still more than most other books. Roald Dahl became the first author whose works I consciously sought and collected, spending my allowance on any battered copy that might cross the shelves at the secondhand bookshop near our home.

I was a big fan of series, though – Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne books were Canadian classics I loved wholeheartedly (and could relate to, as a precocious ginger-headed child), and the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder were read so often that the first three were falling apart. Something about that totally foreign (to me) landscape of building houses from logs, slaughtering pigs and making maple sugar candy was endlessly appealing.


Even further removed from my reality was A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle. I loved the story of this book, but it was the characters who hooked me so completely – I absolutely had to read more about Meg and Charles Wallace Murry, and Calvin O’Keeffe, and all the rest. I read her following three books as well, A Wind in the Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, and Many Waters, though I liked each a little bit less than the one that came before it, and my heart still lies with A Wrinkle in Time to this day.

There have been so many books since, and I’m simultaneously energized and comforted by the knowledge that there will be so many books yet to come. I wonder how many books I have read? I would estimate in the neighborhood of 2000. How high would they reach, stacked? How far, laid end to end? When I die, and there is no more reading left for me in this world, I hope that my heaven has two rooms dedicated to books – one with shelves filled with every book I ever read in life, and one, much larger one, filled with every book I could ever hope to read. Because in the afterlife, surely, there will be a very comfortable chair, excellent light to read by, no telemarketers to ring my phone, and plenty, plenty of time to read.

What about you? Leave me a comment and let me know what people, books and circumstances led you to be the lovesick book-worshiper you are.

The 12 Hottest New Books for Fall

Fall’s 12 Hottest New Books from AbeBooks

The weather has turned cooler and readers everywhere are secretly rejoicing. Fall is prime reading season – perfect for hiding away with a good book, or maybe 12. We’ve rounded up the season’s best new releases from today’s literary stars. From Ken Follett and Hilary Mantel to the queen of vampire lit, Anne Rice, there’s something for everyone.

Lila by Marilynne Robinson
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Marilynne Robinson returns to the town of Gilead in an unforgettable story of a girlhood lived on the fringes of society in fear and awe. Lila, homeless and alone after years of roaming the countryside, steps inside a small-town Iowa church for shelter from the rain and ignites a romance and a debate that will reshape her life.

The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher by Hilary Mantel
Cutting to the core of human experience, Mantel brutally and acutely writes about marriage, class, family, and sex in a collection of shocking contemporary stories.

Prince Lestat: The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice
Prince Lestat is back. In this chillingly hypnotic mystery-thriller, Anne Rice Rice once again summons up the irresistible spirit world of the oldest and most powerful forces of the night in a long-awaited return to the extraordinary world of the Vampire Chronicles.

Nora Webster by Colm Toibin
Set in Wexford, Ireland, Tóibín’s superb seventh novel introduces the formidable Nora Webster. Widowed at 40, with four children and not enough money, Nora has lost the love of her life, Maurice, the man who rescued her from the stifling world to which she was born. Wounded, strong-willed, clinging to secrecy in a tiny community where everyone knows your business, Nora is drowning in her own sorrow and blind to the suffering of her young sons. Yet she has moments of stunning empathy and kindness, and when she begins to sing again she finds solace in herself.

A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James
A lyrical, masterfully written epic that explores the attempted assassination of Bob Marley in the late 1970s. Deftly spanning decades and continents and peopled with a wide range of characters – assassins, journalists, drug dealers, and even ghosts – here is the fictional exploration of that dangerous and unstable time and its bloody aftermath, from the streets and slums of Kingston in the ’70s, to the crack wars in ’80s New York, to a radically altered Jamaica in the ’90s.

Perfidia by James Ellroy
It is December 6, 1941. America stands at the brink of World War II. Last hopes for peace are shattered when Japanese squadrons bomb Pearl Harbor. Los Angeles has been a haven for loyal Japanese-Americans—but now, war fever and race hate grip the city and the Japanese internment begins.

Some Luck by Jane Smiley
The first book of an epic trilogy, Some Luck by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jane Smiley follows the Langdon family from 1920 through World Wars and beyond. Taking us through cycles of births and deaths, passions and betrayals, among characters we come to know inside and out, it is a real tour de force.

Us by David Nicholls
Douglas Petersen may be mild-mannered, but behind his reserve lies a sense of humor that, against all odds, seduces beautiful Connie into a second date and eventually into marriage. Now, almost three decades after their relationship first blossomed in London, they live more or less happily in the suburbs with their moody seventeen year-old son. Then Connie tells him she thinks she wants a divorce. From the best selling author of One Day comes a deftly funny new novel about what holds families and marriages together.

The Monogram Murders by Sophie Hannah
Since the publication of her first novel in 1920, more than two billion copies of Agatha Christie’s books have been sold around the globe. Now, for the first time ever, the guardians of her legacy have approved a brand-new novel featuring Dame Agatha’s most beloved creation, Hercule Poirot.

Edge of Eternity by Ken Follett
Ken Follett’s Century Trilogy follows the fortunes of five intertwined families – American, German, Russian, English, and Welsh—as they make their way through the 20th century. This, the final book, covers one of the most tumultuous eras of all: the 1960s through the 1980s, encompassing civil rights, assassinations, Vietnam, the Berlin Wall, the Cuban Missile Crisis, presidential impeachment, revolution—and rock and roll.

Gray Mountain by John Grisham
Gray Mountain covers the murky and dangerous world of coal mining, where laws are often broken, rules are ignored, regulations are flouted, communities are divided, and the land itself is under attack from Big Coal. Violence is always just around the corner, and within weeks a young lawyer finds herself engulfed in litigation that turns deadly.

The Zone of Interest by Martin Amis
The Zone of Interest is a love story with a violently unromantic setting. Powered by both wit and compassion, and in characteristically vivid prose, Martin Amis’ unforgettable new novel excavates the depths and contradictions of the human soul.

The Book of Were-Wolves by Sabine Baring-Gould


Just in time for Halloween tomorrow, check out this marvelous, collectible book we recently sold. It’s an 1865 first edition of The Book of Were-Wolves, by Sabine Baring-Gould. Its full title is actually The Book of Were-Wolves: Being An Account of a Terrible Superstition. The copy we sold, which went for £750 (approx. $1200 USD) was a gorgeous first edition in red pictorial cloth, decorated with gilt.


Here is the description of the contents from the bookseller. It sounds like a howl of a read:

“This is a nice example of the First Edition of this classic book on The Werewolf and Were Wolves in History, with chapters covering Lycanthropy Among the Ancients, The Were-Wolf in the North, The Origin of the Scandinavian Were-Wolf, The Were-Wolf in the Middle Ages, A Chamber of Horrors, Jean Grenier, Folk-Lore Relating to Were-Wolves, Natural Causes of Lycanthropy, Mythological Origin of the Were-Wolf Myth, The Maréchal de Retz.-I. The Investigation of Charges., The Maréchal de Retz.–II. The Trial, Maréchal de Retz.–III. The Sentence and Execution. A Galician Were-Wolf, Anomalous Case.–The Human Hyæna. A Sermon on Were-Wolves etc.”

First editions of The Book of Werewolves appear to be quite rare; we only have three remaining copies on the site as of this writing, ranging in price from $450.00 all the way up to $10,000. That $10,000 copy, offered by First Place Books in Maryland, is special because in it you’ll find the book-plate of Baring-Gould’s wife, Grace.


Sabine Baring-Gould was an Anglican priest in England in the 19th and early 20th centuries. He was also a hagiographer. Interestingly, in direct contrast (to my mind) with the book at hand, most of Baring-Gould’s impressively prolific bibliography was religion-based, including many original hymns (most famous among them being “Onward, Christian Soldiers”, whose accompanying music was penned by Arthur Sullivan, of Gilbert & Sullivan). Baring-Gould and his wife Grace had 15 children, all but one of whom survived until adulthood.

Sabine Baring-Gould also published A Book of Ghosts, for anyone interested in a spooky-themed matched set. It is described by one of our booksellers as a “Collection of ghost stories, some dating back to the 1850s. Most are slight tales of apparitions; the most interesting are ‘Pomps and Vanities,’ a tale of possession; and ‘The Merewigs,’ a farce in which persons who made no spiritual progress in their last incarnation must now haunt the British Museum.” One thing’s for sure – I certainly do adore the lettering on that cover:


There is an image from within which depicts some poor, bedridden soul being visited by an apparition:


All told, Baring-Gould’s catalogue ended up boasting an impressive 1200 or so publications, with (obviously) a great variety of subject and genre.

This isn’t the first time we’ve sold a spooky, occult type rare book in the days leading up to Halloween. Last year we sold a rare grimoire which is definitely worth reading about.

Happy Hallowe’en!

Literary Starbucks – Your Favorite Author’s Coffee Order

Some clever duck has created a quite funny concept on Tumblr. Literary Starbucks posts witty snippets of what a Starbucks order might look like, if placed by our favorite authors, and some fictional characters as well. They are quick and dirty, and often spot on:

“George R.R. Martin goes up to the counter and orders a series of incredibly complicated drinks, each more detailed and layered than the last. The barista works for an hour and finally hands them across the counter to Martin, who promptly throws one of them away with little to no explanation. That coffee had been the barista’s favorite.”

“Sylvia Plath goes up to the counter, and she doesn’t know what she’s doing in Starbucks. She decides to order a strawberry frappuccino. On the other side of the window, fiery leaves have begun to fall. The leaves are too red; they remind her of beetles, of darkness, of the taut skin of the dead. The taste of strawberries turns thick and sour.”

“Hemingway goes up to the counter and orders one espresso. It’s hot. He drinks it in silence. It makes him remember his father’s cabin. He thinks about the woman he loved once. He does not smile. The coffee reminds him of war – short but painful, swallowed down quickly. One could order worse drinks. He leaves Starbucks and walks out into the rain.”

“Lady Macbeth goes up to the counter and sees three female baristas intently hovering over the espresso machine, chanting something unintelligible. She decides to order a Passion tea and proceeds to spill it all over her clothes and hands. She runs screaming to the bathroom. The three baristas cackle in uncanny unison.”

“Roald Dahl goes up to the counter and orders a grande hot chocolate and a tall peach green tea. He offers the foxy barista a piece of gum. She takes it and promptly turns into a blueberry. He leaves the shop and walks down the street with his extraordinarily tall companion.”

I hope they include a romance author. That would be a fun one to write. Enjoy (preferably, with your morning coffee). And well done, Literary Starbucks!

Video footage from the 2014 Seattle Book Fair

Our colleague Christi Kay recently took a floatplane from Victoria, British Columbia, over the Olympic Mountains to visit the 2014 Seattle Book Fair. She took her camera and this video is the result. Many thanks to all the booksellers who made her welcome. Christi also microblogs on our Tumblr, Bookorithms.

Le Crapouillot – France’s 80-Year Political Satire Magazine


While foraging about the internet’s forest floor to learn all I could about our latest Nobel Prize for Literature winner, Patrick Modiano, I discovered Le Crapouillot. The first discovery was that Modiano had contributed to an issue of a magazine about drugs. The actual title of the issue was: “LSD une bombe atomique dans la tête” (“LSD: An atomic bomb in the head”). The issue was Crapouillot #71, and came out in 1966, when Modiano was 21. The cover is really something to behold. The quote below the cover image translates roughly to: “[i]t hurts … I’m hot … flowers … oh, it’s beautiful …. I have to come back …. oh, no! it’s getting terrible…” – look at that poor woman’s face!:


Crapoillot no 7: LSD


Clearly, this was a magazine I needed to investigate further.

Le Crapouillot (the word is a variation on the French word “Crapaud” or “little toad”) was a French political magazine which ran for more than 80 years, from 1915 until its final issue in 1996. The magazine was begun by French soldier and controversial journalist Jean Galtier-Boissiere, who originally intended it as a trench paper, just for his peers in the military. He created it, in part, out of his belief in a need for a balanced view of French soldiers, after being offended and taken aback by the depictions and caricatures he saw in the media. Le Crapouillot promised early on to address the authentic, first-hand stories of French soldiers, from their perspectives. The insolent, irreverent and fearless publication soon proved so popular, however, that by 1925 it was a monthly distribution, with an ever-expanding subscriber list.

In its 80 year run, Le Crapouillot varied widely in its insights and opinions, striving to seek the truth and to publish without censorship or fear of reprisal. That bold attitude resulted in a fantastic series of historical snapshots, with issues addressing so many social, political and economic struggles throughout the century. For instance, the July, 1933 issue, “Hitler, est-ce la guerre?” (“Hitler, is This War?”) explored in detail the personality of Adolf Hitler, his intentions, and his possible trajectory, despite being published very early into Hitler’s rise to power.


Le Crapouillot was unusual at the time, as it devoted each issue to one sole subject to focus on, and nothing was off the table. Art, sexuality, drugs, the economy, social trends, class warfare, and of course politics – everything had its moment within the pages of the magazine. Le Crapouillot enjoyed enough traction to attract the attention of some larger publications, and was given a nod in a December, 1935 issue of Time Magazine as a “Paris muckraker” worth exploring. (What is muckraking?)

In its later years, publication frequency was fitful, irregular and unreliable. By the time the magazine folded in 1996, it had become a staunchly conservative, right-wing publication. But for any magazine collecting enthusiast or French history buff, the back issues of Le Crapouillot are a unique goldmine of information to explore – a time capsule of nearly an entire century of France’s social development. Copies are, for the most part, surprisingly affordable, as well.

There are well over 2,000 issues of Le Crapouillot available for sale on AbeBooks, ranging in price from $2.00 all the up to $1900, with a median asking price of approximately $15.00.

The best travel books and world’s most literary city according to Patricia Schultz

1000 Places to See Before You Die by Patricia Schultz

We recently had the pleasure of meeting author Patricia Schultz, the woman behind the best-selling 1000 Places to See Before You Die books. We were anxious to pick her brain about the world’s most literary towns and the bookshops she’s seen along the way, and she was generous enough to indulge us.

AbeBooks: Tell us about the most interesting bookshops you’ve discovered in your travels.

Patricia Schultz: I have traveled all over the US speaking at travel shows, libraries and bookstores. I’ve found that the smaller independent bookstores so full of character - some of them owned by the same book-loving family for generations - are generally the most interesting, having had to grow, evolve and keep up with the ways and trends of the times. Those that have survived appear to be much more of a welcoming social center than the larger and more impersonal chains. It is so important to support our independent stores.

A Tale of Love and Darkness by Amos OzAbe: What books are in your suitcase?

P.S.: I always bring a guidebook or three (with others left behind at home) – but for my trip to Israel in a few weeks, I will also be bringing A Tale of Love and Darkness, the autobiography written by the acclaimed novelist Amos Oz. Three different friends have told me it promises a sensitively written and profound insight to Israel, a very special destination where I last visited 15 years ago.

Abe: In your opinion, what is the most literary city in the world? Why?

P.S.: Ireland’s deep love of words go far beyond James Joyce, George Bernard Shaw, Yeats and Beckett – back to the Druids and Celts. Dublin is a great city all around, with a longtime love and respect for its famous story tellers and awarded literary heritage. The capital city names bridges and streets after writers, and erects statues and memorials to commemorate them. In 2010, the UN declared Dublin an official City of Literature (a credential it shares with just six others in the world: Edinburgh, Iowa City, Reykjavik, Melbourne, Norwich and Krakow)…and did I mention its dozens of literary pubs?

Our Man in Havana by Graham GreeneAbe: Who is your favorite (fellow) travel writer?

P.S.: I couldn’t possibly list one – nor all of them. Some I happened upon randomly, others because they were linked to a destination I was planning to visit. I read Lawrence Durrell’s Alexandria Quartet and T. E. Lawrence’s Seven Pillars of Wisdom before my first visit to Egypt. Patrick Leigh Fermor‘s books led me to Greece’s Mani Peninsula, while Our Man in Havana by Graham Greene stoked my curiosity about Cuba. I don’t read travel literature half as much as I would like to, as I am always up-to-here with guide books, mountains of periodicals and research that need my attention for more practical purposes – but they too are insightful and inspiring in their own way.

Abe: What inspired you to travel the world, and what inspired you to write about it?

P.S.: That curiosity with which we are all born did not diminish in me over the years. My parents – although we traveled infrequently as a family due to a very modest lifestyle – always helped to keep that curiosity alive and nourished. I always traveled as much as I could, beginning with three experience-packed years after college when I lived in Florence. I never really fancied myself a writer – I had never studied writing or journalism and I read a lot (mostly to keep alive the second and third languages I studied in school) but not voraciously. My first writing assignment came to me by chance – and that’s when the light bulb went off. What if I could make a living off of my wanderlust? Beginner’s luck was good to me and kept reality at bay. It isn’t an easy (nor lucrative – at all!) career choice, but I was enjoying it too much to reconsider during those first (very) lean years.


American Tourist Accidentally Locked Inside London Bookstore

When I was a little girl, I saw a movie in which some children are trapped overnight in a shopping mall. I can’t remember how that came to pass, what they did in there, or the eventual outcome (I feel sure they made it out alive). What I do remember, however, is trying to go to sleep later that night – and even two or three nights following -  and being absolutely buzzing with the imaginings running through my brain. If only I could be trapped overnight in a shopping mall, preferably with a friend or two. We could run up the down escalator! Drop rubber balls from the top floor all the way to the courtyard and fountains four storeys down! We could take every pillow in the bedding department and make the world’s most comfortable fort. We could work the soft serve machine with our own hands and make ourselves sick! Makeovers in the makeup department! Cover the sporting goods department floor in basketballs, baseballs, golf balls, softballs, soccer balls, volleyballs and more – and then corral them all down an escalator! Dress up and hold still and pretend to be a mannequin during an epic game of hide and seek!

I lay there, clutching the bedsheets in my damp little hands, willing my fevered brain to slow, to stop the dizzying cavalcade of wistful possibility from keeping me awake. In summary, it was a mammoth fantasy of my childhood to be trapped inside such a place, and given free rein, if only for one night, and next-day consequences be damned. I often thought it would be a wonderful grand prize for some kind of childhood contest.

Now that I am an adult, of course, my tastes have matured, and I’ve grown too discerning and reserved for such flights of fancy.

David Willis, Texan tourist, squanderer of golden opportunities (photo: Twitter)

David Willis, squanderer of golden opportunities (photo: Twitter)

The previous statement is of course a lie, and the reason I could only shake my head in mute disappointment at Texas resident David Willis (pictured, right), who on Thursday, October 16th, had been browsing through the stacks in London’s famed Waterstone’s bookshop in London (Trafalgar Square, no less), when he realized he had been missed by the store’s employees, and the store was now closed for the night. The lights were out, and he was the only soul in the place.

This is where the story should go: Mr. Willis, delighted at his predicament and recognizing his  absolutely once-in-a-blue-moon good fortune, could hardly decide where to begin.  First, he took a moment to simply breathe, and stretch, and take in his surroundings. He listened to the silence, he scanned the room, and eventually tested his solitude with one brave “Hallo?”. Hearing nothing in return but his own echo bounced back to him off the spines of hundreds, and hundreds, and thousands of books, still on their shelves and waiting for him – David Willis embarked on the best night of his life.

Imagine – the shop closed at 9pm. Even if it opened again at 7 am (which is very early), Willis could have had 10 full hours of perusing an almost unending supply of books, with nobody to distract him. No other customers jostling his elbow or making conversation; no staff trying to sell him something or repeatedly inquiring whether he needed help; no spouse, no children, no television even. Just a glorious, uninterrupted ten hours of books. And he was on vacation, so no work the next day!  Nothing to do the next day but amble back to his hotel for some well-deserved sleep, and to prepare how best to tell his wonderful story.

Sadly, that is not where the story went, in real life. In actuality, David Willis tried the door, set off the alarm, spoke to store security, called the police, and even resorted to taking a photo of the inside of the darkened store and tweeting it out to the Twitterverse as a last cry for help. At last, his pleas were heard, and he was released. All told, he spent only two hours in the store.

I must admit, I would have absolutely no idea where to start or what to read. But I would start, eventually, and I would read. I can’t help but feel this was an enormous waste of a rare opportunity. Still, I suppose not everyone shared my childhood fantasies.

What would you read if you had a full night, uninterrupted, and a vast landscape of books at hand?


Signed Aussie First Edition of Flanagan’s Booker-winner sells for $1,313

Signed True Australian first edition first impression of The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan

As of this writing, it has only been 40 hours or so since Australian author Richard Flanagan’s novel The Narrow Road to the Deep North was announced the winner of the 2014 Man Booker Prize for Fiction. In that time, we at AbeBooks have enjoyed watching the flurry of activity on the web site. Whenever there is a big literary prize announcement, copies disappear, people scramble for signed copies, copies inscribed by the author suddenly triple in value, and we watch our inventory plummet as readers, eager to investigate a name new to them, snap up all the books they can get their hands on.

And The Narrow Road to the Deep North has not disappointed. Since the late Tuesday afternoon (PST) announcement, we’ve sold an impressive number of Richard Flanagan books, mostly, of course, the prize-winner. The biggest sale so far was for a signed copy of the true Australian first edition, first impression published by Knopf. Described by the bookseller as “uber scarce”, this copy was in mint, unread condition, and signed by Richard Flanagan himself. The rare find sold for $1,313 USD (approx. $1,500 AUD). There is currently one more signed copy of the true Australian first/first for sale on this site, priced at $1,800 USD (approx $2,050 AUD.) Thirty other signed copies of The Narrow Road have also sold since the Booker announcement.

If the $1,800 true first/first is out of your price range, but you’d still like a little collectible something, there are currently 10 signed copies of The Narrow Road to the Deep North available for sale on the site (for as low as $100 at the moment), as well as  91 copies of signed Richard Flanagan novels in general.

We have also seen sales of Flanagan’s other books, including Death of a River Guide, The Sound of One Hand Clapping, Gould’s Book of Fish: A Novel in Twelve Fish, The Unknown Terrorist and Wanting. And the interest was far from limited to proud Australians – copies crossed the ocean in all directions, to the hands of plenty of international admirers as well.

It’s a good week to be Richard Flanagan.

Richard Flanagan’s The Narrow Road to the Deep North 2014 Booker Winner

The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan - 2014 Man Booker Prize Winner
The votes are in!

Congratulations to Australian author Richard Flanagan, whose novel The Narrow Road to the Deep North has been announced the winner of the 2014 Man Booker Prize for Fiction. Not only is Flanagan now £50,000 (approximately $80,000 USD) richer, but he is now virtually guaranteed to be in the eye of the literary community, and with a full calendar of readings for at least a few years to come. We’ll all be watching for what’s next. Here is some more about The Narrow Road to the Deep North.

In the despair of a Japanese POW camp on the Thai-Burma Death Railway, Australian surgeon Dorrigo Evans is haunted by his affair with his uncle’s young wife two years earlier. His life is a daily struggle to save the men under his command from starvation, cholera and pitiless beatings. Until he receives a letter that will change him forever. Moving deftly from the POW camp to contemporary Australia, from the experiences of Dorrigo and his comrades to those of the Japanese guards, this novel tells a story of love, death, and family, exploring the many forms of good and evil, war and truth, and guilt.

The Narrow Road to the Deep North is Flanagan’s sixth novel, preceded by Death of a River Guide, The Sound of One Hand Clapping, Gould’s Book of Fish: A Novel in Twelve Fish, The Unknown Terrorist and Wanting.

Currently, signed copies of The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan are affordable and not too scarce, but if you want one, act immediately because announcements like these do tend to send prices quickly skyward.

The Booker Prize was first awarded in 1969, and goes to the judges’ determination of best English language full-length novel published in the UK.

Kudos as well to the five runners-up:

The Lives of Others by Neel Mukherjee
The Lives of Others by Neel Mukherjee
It is 1967, Calcutta. Unnoticed by his family, Supratik has become dangerously involved in student unrest, agitation, extremist political activism. Compelled by an idealistic desire to change his life and the world around him, all he leaves behind is this note. ‘Ma, I feel exhausted with consuming, with taking and grabbing and using. I am so bloated that I feel I cannot breathe any more. I am leaving to find some air, some place where I shall be able to purge myself, push back against the life given me and make my own. I feel I live in a borrowed house. It’s time to find my own… — Forgive me…’.’
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler
Meet the Cooke family: Mother and Dad, brother Lowell, sister Fern, and our narrator, Rosemary, who begins her story in the middle. She has her reasons. “I spent the first 18years of my life defined by this one fact: that I was raised with a chimpanzee,” she says. “It’s never going to be the first thing I share with someone. I tell you Fern was a chimp and already you aren’t thinking of her as my sister. But until Fern’s expulsion, I’d scarcely known a moment alone. She was my twin, my fun-house mirror, my whirlwind other half, and I loved her as a sister.”

J by Howard Jacobson
J by Howard Jacobson
Set in the future, J is a love story of incomparable strangeness, both tender and terrifying. Two people fall in love, not yet knowing where they have come from or where they are going. Kevern doesn t know why his father always drew two fingers across his lips when he said a world starting with a J. It isn’t the time or place to be asking questions. Ailinn too has grown up in the dark about who she was or where she came from. On their first date Kevern kisses the bruises under her eyes. Brutality has grown commonplace.Hanging over the lives of all the characters in this novel is a momentous catastrophe – a past event shrouded in suspicion, denial and apology, now referred to as What Happened, If It Happened. J is a novel to be talked about in the same breath as Nineteen Eighty Four and Brave New World.

How to be Both by Ali Smith / signed copies
How to Be Both by Ali Smith
A novel all about art’s versatility. Borrowing from painting’s fresco technique to make an original literary double-take, it s a fast-moving genre-bending conversation between forms, times, truths and fictions. There s a renaissance artist of the 1460s. There s the child of a child of the 1960s. Two tales of love and injustice twist into a singular yarn where time gets timeless, structural gets playful, knowing gets mysterious, fictional gets real – and all life’s givens get given a second chance. Smith can make anything happen, which is why she is one of our most exciting writers today .

To Rise Again at a Decent Hour by Joshua Ferris / signed copies
To Rise Again at a Decent Hour by Joshua Ferris
Paul O’Rourke is a man made of contradictions: he loves the world, but doesn’t know how to live in it. He’s a Luddite addicted to his iPhone, a dentist with a nicotine habit, a rabid Red Sox fan devastated by their victories, and an atheist not quite willing to let go of God. Then someone begins to impersonate Paul online, and he watches in horror as a website, a Facebook page, and a Twitter account are created in his name. What begins as an outrageous violation of his privacy soon becomes something more soul-frightening: the possibility that the online Paul might be a better version of the real thing.