Travels in the Tardis with Booksellers B & B

A late order on the morning we were leaving meant a delay while the book was processed and packed but eventually we were away with a slight detour for petrol. It was then he said: “the parcel has to be sent from the metropolitan area, we can’t wait until we get there” so the route was rearranged to go through the south west suburbs, eyes scanning the horizon for the red P.O. sign. A charity shop that we have never visited is noted but no sign of a Post Office.

“Quick, turn here” he said “John Street goes through Cabramatta. There’ll be a post office there” so a quick left turn and off we go into a swirl of one way lanes, dodging pedestrians as we go, until there is the post office but nowhere to park. A little further on, we double park in the station car park and off he goes to send it on its way.

Late that afternoon we set up camp in a park beside the river. He sets up the computer to check on any new orders while she goes for a wander beside the river, meeting the neighbours and photographing the brilliant sunset.

One day is set aside for business. There is a large charity shop just to the south of the nearest large town. The manager there contacted us some eighteen months ago and we spent an afternoon helping him sort his books into those to sell in the shop and those to put up on E-bay or send off to auction. We chose several boxes for our stock, offered him a fair price which he reduced for our help and said he would be back in touch when he had more to offer. Nothing more has been heard so we call in to see what is there and find nothing of interest. Half hour further on, a little place where some gems were found on a previous visit but this time one shop has closed down completely and the other is open very short hours for winter and is closed on the day we are there.

So, back to the big town. Last time we trawled the charity and second hand shops there were several purchases made. This time, she found three books in a series she likes but nothing for stock.

The week has come to an end and it’s back to the city for book fairs at Warriewood and Beecroft and several bags bought at both.

-Contributed by Barbara & Bill McLennan (The Book Collector)

Australia Post Rates Go Up, Again!

I was staggered this afternoon to be told by my Post Office that Australia Post are putting up all their prices  AGAIN next month.  The new rates from July 4th, will include the satchels we all use.

By my reckoning that’s three times in nine months!

It used to go up every year which was on the nose but when it went up on April 4th  after a big price hike the previous September I thought that would be the end of the increases for at least 12 months. But no, shamelessly they are putting them up again after just three months.

It will soon be cheaper to jump on a plane and take a package to the U.K. then posting it there!

The Book Depository in the U.K.  is given a sizeable discount I believe by the Royal Mail to offer free postage to their customers-but here in Australia all Australia Post do is try their hardest to destroy small traders like us. They take away Economy Air-mail (New Zealand still has it) and then introduce this $9.00 anti terrorist scanning measure for the U.S., does anyone know of any other country that has introduced this?  Then on top of all that we are expected to wear these obscene price increases. Price rises at shorter and shorter intervals.

Australia Post seems to have some kind of death wish. The trouble is that they are making the cost of doing business using the mails here in Australia unsustainable.

The Book Collector

Collecting Motoring Literature

As motor vehicles have been around since the 1880s there are quite a lot of publications that can be collected.  There are books that were published not long after cars were made.  The oldest one in my collection is dated 1894.  Naturally these are now rare, although early magazines are more readily available.

There are many categories of motoring books.  There are the original publications as mentioned, plus many titles have been written on the subject of old cars, or veteran, vintage and classic cars.  Then there is motor sport which includes rallies and trials, both for cars and motorcycles.  As expected the early ones are more collectable.

Histories of marques are readily available, especially the more well known makes such as Rolls-Royce, Jaguar, MG, Porsche, BMW, Ford and Holden, here in Australia.  I am sure other makes are more readily available in their countries of origin.  Some of the larger motor manufacturers publish an in-house magazine.  Ford and Austin, for example, started quite early with pre-World War I copies occasionally turning up.

As well as books, there are brochures, magazines, workshop manuals, handbooks, parts catalogues, motor racing programmes, early advertisements in newspapers and magazines, photographs, postcards, and stamps featuring motor vehicles.  Even road maps and guides fall into the motoring literature section.

Motoring literature also encompasses commercial vehicles and motorcycles, and even farm and road making machinery.  And don’t forget traction engines, as they are classed as motoring for some enthusiasts.  And last but not least of motoring type publication to collect –  model cars.

–From Peter and Caroline of Booksnbits


Whilst threatening weather kept the numbers attending CLUNES BOOKTOWN 2011 down there was still rich pickings on offer  for those book collectors who braved the icy winds.

In what is now firmly established on the Australian  book collector’s  calendar as the premier book event Clunes Booktown once again attracted a large contingent of book dealer’s from all over Australia with books on every subject on offer.

Food & wine stalls and street entertainment added to the occasion and for two days this old goldmining town really came alive.

A Review of the World Book Market Software

After selling my bookshop in Sydney and becoming an online bookseller full time, I realized that I would never be able to list the pallets of books I had sitting in storage, without the help of some very good software systems.

After what felt like months of searching I had downloaded many bookseller databases including Book Trakker, Home Base, Book Hound and various others which I can’t even remember, (that is how good they were). Most just didn’t do everything that I wanted them to do, and the others that seemed to have the capability were much too complex and hard to use by someone as computer challenged as myself, as I can’t ever use a spreadsheet.

 I then stumbled upon the World Book Market and their WBM-BB, after downloading the trail version, it seemed very complex, too complex for me a complete computer klutz. So I sent an email off to the creator, Guy Weller, aka Mr Pickwick’s Books as I had to all the other databases which I had hoped would work for me, the only difference being Guy emailed back straight away and offered to sit down and have a chat over a cup of coffee. This was a very welcome relief after some of the responses I had gotten from some of the other support services offered by the other databases I had sitting on my desktop. After Guy had given me a quick run through of the capabilities of the WBM-BB on his own computer I was hooked, and this was helped by Guy making it all look very easy, which thankfully it turned out to be.

 As I was coming to the World Book Market without any inventory file to import, apart from my turbo lister file, I just started listing from scratch with the WBM-BB. Although having read through the manual and on the forums about importing files from various sources, the most common being Home base, I am confident even I would be able import a Home base or similar file into the WBM-BB without a hiccup. The best thing being if there are any problems you can be confident that there will be a member of the World Book Market happy to help and will get most problems sorted with a few clicks of a mouse. I so far haven’t encountered any real problems using this database and the few very small hiccups have been solved by reading the manual of searching the forums as most problems have already discovered and solved by another member, and I have gained the wisdom from their experience.  I now use the WBM-BB to list my books and send those listings up to approximately 20 different sites, invoice customers, answer customer inquiries directly through the book listing, and host my photos through the World Book market. I am also now getting my personal website redesigned by the World Book Market so as my listings will go there also. So basically I don’t know why I didn’t do this a lot sooner.

–By Catherine @ RandomBooks

Coming to a post office near you…

Carol Jones of Turn the Page found this interesting (and a little worrying) post on an eBay forum:

“I learnt today, from our local Postmaster that because of a new computer system being installed in Post Offices, that items that have postage labels i.e not in a satchel, will not have the postcode on the receipt anymore.

When he saw the look of horror on my face he said that he had already emailed the powers-to-be explaining about eBayers in particular, needing the postcode as part of the proof of posting.

He said our Post Office was one of the first to have the new system so I don’t think it is widely known at the moment.”

For many booksellers, the postcode on the receipt is a method of cheap ‘insurance’ : it proves the parcel has indeed been posted off and is out of our hands.  The next method is Registered Post and costs a great deal more.  Let Australia Post know that leaving the postcodes off receipts is not acceptable.  Write AusPost, or talk to your local postmaster.


Capt. W.E. Johns died in 1968 but 40 + years on his books are very much sought after by a new generation of readers and by collectors.

Johns was the creator of not just the Biggles books but also the Gimlet; Worrals; and Steely books along with a series of Science-Fiction books.

This prolific writer of children’s fiction also included a number of adult fiction and non-fiction titles in his prodigious output.

For the collector the books to look out for are at the beginning and at the end of his writing career.

The early books, published by John Hamilton & Oxford University Press are very hard to find as are the books written by Johns towards the end of his lifetime; 1964-1968 and published by Hodder & Stoughton & Brockhampton Press. Such is the demand for these 1960’s works that Norman Wright in the U.K., with the permission of the Johns estate, is re-publishing many of these titles currently in limited editions of 300 copies.

As with all truly collectable books the most keenly sought items are first editions with original dust wrappers. The price for the harder to find titles is continually increasing. However the more common Dean & Sons editions, produced in vast quantities for the U.K. supermarket chains, are so common as to be almost worthless.

The ‘holy grail’ for most Biggles collectors is “The Camels are Coming” (John Hamilton) whilst amongst the last dozen or so titles published between 1964-1970 “Biggles and the Little Green God”; “Biggles and the Deep Blue Sea and “Biggles and the Noble Lord” prove very elusive for most collectors.

One of the reasons why Biggles has cemented himself in the hearts and minds of Australian readers is the long-running Australian produced and immensely popular radio serial,” The Air Adventures of Biggles”. Many a Biggles collector became addicted to the books after being first exposed to our ‘flying hero’ and his chums in the radio serial.

Further information on both the Biggles books and the radio serial can be obtained by contacting

Australian Classics For Your Bookshelf

Australian Classics For Your Bookshelf

The Sydney Morning Herald’s Literary Editor Susan Wyndham has listed fifteen books that should be part of every Australian’s library. Second hand reprint copies should be readily available from book dealers throughout Australia.  Why not aim to collect them all?

  • For the Term of His Natural Life (1874) by Marcus Clarke
  • My Brilliant Career (1901) by Miles Franklin
  • The Man Who Loved Children (1940) by Christina Stead
  • The Harp in the South (1948) by Ruth Park
  • Voss (1957) by Patrick White
  • The Tyranny of Distance (1966) by Geoffrey Blainey
  • Johnno (1975) by David Malouf
  • A Fortunate Life (1981) by A.B. Facy
  • The Children’s Bach (1984) by Helen Garner
  • Cloudstreet (1991) by Tim Winton
  • Night Letters (1996) by Robert Dessaix
  • Eucalyptus (1998) by Murray Ball
  • True History of the Kelly Gang (2000) by Peter Carey
  • Carpentaria (2006) by Alexis Wright
  • The Slap (2008) by Christos Tsiolkas

SMH 29.12.2010

Contribued by Margaret Dunstan of Somerset House Books

While browsing on the web…

A few interesting things brought to us by Carol at Turn the Page

  • For all you Enid Blyton collectors out there, a previously unpublished manuscript has surfaced.  Unfortunately there are no plans to publish it yet, but maybe one day you can add the check to your list.  Read more here from the Adelaide Now site.


  • On a sadder note, an aritlce in the UK written in the Guardian laments the fact that more and more secondhand bookshops are closing.  Online shopping, e-books, and charity shops are making what once was a shop in every town become a rarity.  A bit depressing, but worth the read… 


  • And because you should always close on something more upbeat, check out the awesome architecture of the Kansas City Public Library.  It’s just the parking structure (and the libray itself is said to be a bit ‘plain jane’, but Missourians and their cars are very lucky!


Man’s Best Friend – Books!

If Australians bet on two flies climbing up a wall, they’ll collect everything.  A quiet Friday night in front of the tele proves it. And there are a lot of bibliophiles out there.  Most of them are pretty harmless. Although some of us go nuts, we don’t all end up with Boulard’s Syndrome. Just for the record, Antoine-Marie-Henri Boulard was a pathological 19th century collector. He tried to own every book and pamphlet ever published. Some say he ended up with 300 000 volumes. Others say 600 000. Some say they filled five whole buildings. Others say six and others say eight.
Whatever Floats Your Boat
Sydney has had its share of bibliomaniacs. David Scott Mitchell was legendary. And one, recently-deceased gentleman used to scour the Salvos, the garage sales and the charity book fairs, lug his boxes home on the bus and stack them up in his garden shed and under his eaves.
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