You can’t judge a book by its colour

Topsham Bookshop


Our eBay Shop is closing

We have decided to close our eBay shop as the fees for our subscription level are being increased by almost 44% as of 30th March 2017 and we are not convinced that the additional features being offered are worth the cost. In addition, eBay are making other changes impacting small sellers such as ourselves which we feel are just plain wrong.

We will continue to sell via eBay, but we will remove all of the fixed price items over the next couple of months and use only auction-style listings going forward.

All of those former eBay fixed price items are available in our store at AbeBooks (please follow the link included under the EARTHBORN BOOKS SALES CHANNELS section in the right hand column of this page)  and we intend to continue to increase our stock level on that platform.

From the archive

A few images, hopefully to amuse, from my digital archive.

This one was submitted to Private Eye for the 60th anniversary of Alan Turing’s untimely death, but was turned down for reasons unspecified:


This one wasn’t submitted:

Margaret Thatcher Falling Asleep at Conference

The largest mobile phone I have ever seen:


The irony….


This aural equipment shop in Plymouth should be renamed…


… as Armada Hearing

Books at Auction on 14th/15th December

We have more interesting lots for auction coming up in the December 2016 two day sale at Dominic Winter Auctioneers located in South Cerney near Cirencester in Gloucestershire.

On the first day (14th December) we have two lots in the General section, as follows:

329 – Charles Babbage. A first edition of The Ninth Bridgewater Treatise. A Fragment published in 1837 by John Murray, London. Re-bound in modern(-ish) green marbled boards quarter bound with moss green linen.

Babbage’s ninth (and unofficial since there were only eight in the original series) Bridgewater treatise, which were intended to discuss natural theology, draws on his experience with calculating machines to devise a picture of God whose undeviating law would be consistent both with successive special creations of natural species and with miracles. Both the theology and the science of the treatise foreshadowed the publication of Darwin’s Origin of Species twenty two years later.

455 – Maurice Wilkes, David J. Wheeler & Stanley Gill. A first printing of The Preparation of Programs for an Electronic Digital Computer (Subtitled ‘With special reference to the EDSAC and the use of a library of subroutines’). Published by Addison-Wesley Press (Cambridge, Massachusetts) in 1951, this book is considered to be the first generally published text on computer programming.

Wilkes (who designed and built Cambridge University’s EDSAC machine) subsequently developed (with the assistance of Wheeler and Gill) the concept of subroutines in programs to create reusable modules. This is a scarce volume – the more so as it is not an ex-library copy.

In the Modern Firsts section on day two (15th December), our lots are as follows:

894 – W. J. Burley – The Sixth Day together with Philip K. Dick & Roger ZelaznyThe Preserving Machine & Other Stories.

Better known for his crime novels featuring the detective Charles Wycliffe, this is Burley’s only foray into science fiction and is scarce in as good condition as this copy. The PKD/Zelazny collection of short stories includes ‘We can Remember it for you Wholesale’ which was the basis for the movie Total Recall.

916 – Raymond E. Feist.  A signed copy of the UK first hardcover edition of Magician. Extremely rare.

956 – George R.R. Martin. A set of the first four books in the author’s A Song of Fire & Ice series. UK first hardcover editions (and first printings) of A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords and A Feast for Crows. All signed by the author and all but A Feast for Crows additionally signed by cover artist Jim Burns.

960 – W.F. Nolan & G.C. Johnson. The UK 1968 first edition of Logan’s Run. A nice copy of this classic SF novel. The highly sucessful film version released in 1976 was directed by Michael Anderson and starred Michael York, Jenny Agutter and Farrah Fawcett, amongst others.

971 – Olaf Stapledon. A collection of 5 UK 1st editions: Sirius – A Fantasy of Love and Discord, Last Men in London, Star Maker, The Flames: A Fantasy and A Man Divided.

972 – Neal Stephenson. Signed and numbered limited edition copies of the three slipcased volumes comprising the author’s Baroque Cycle, namely Quicksilver, Confusion and The System of the World. Published in the US by William Morrow.

976 – J.R.R. Tolkien. A three volume set of the 1966 revised 2nd edition (1st printing) of The Lord of the Rings.

977 – William T. Vollmann. Rising Up and Rising Down. 7 volumes of the US 1st edition in a slipcase, each signed by the author.

More details and a catalogue for download are available here: —> Dominic Winter General 14th December 2016 and Dominic Winter Modern Firsts 15th December 2016

15th December 2016 Update:

A reasonable sale. Seven lots sold, three unsold. The Vollmann set again a non-seller as was the Burley/PKD pair and, surprisingly to me, the Wilkes/Wheeler/Gill programming book also failed to sell. On the plus side, the GRRM set did very well with a hammer price of GBP 2,100. Results can be downloaded in PDF format via the link given above.

A Game of Trumps

This from the verso of the title page of the UK 1st edition of A Game of Thrones:


BristolCon 2016

BristolCon is over for another year. As always, it was a friendly and fun affair. This year’s Guests of Honour were authors Ken Macleod and Sarah Pinborough and artist Fanghorn (Chris Baker). The turnout was good, around the same as last year I would guess, although the later than usual date may have reduced the attendance a bit due to it being the end of the half-term school holiday.

I attended the Ken Macleod GoH interview conducted by Janie Fenn which was followed by a reading by Ken from his most recent novel Dissidence – the first in a new trilogy entitled The Corporation Wars. In the afternoon I had the pleasure of a chat with Ken who I last saw at LonCon 3 when he chaired the emotional Iain Banks tribute session (he and Iain having been at school and also worked together in times past).

During our conversation I discovered that, like myself, Ken had been a programmer working on IBM mainframe systems although in his case, it was as a business programmer/analyst as opposed to my various technical roles in areas such as operations, systems programming and installation management. Iain was also a programmer and at one time worked for IBM.

Ken also kindly signed my two copies of Dissidence and also the posthumously published book of Iain’s poems edited by Ken who also wrote the introduction.


I’m not familiar with the work of Sarah Pinborough (although I do note that her work is becoming more popular around the world). On the other hand, the work of Chris Baker has been on my radar for a long time, beginning with covers for the UK editions of the Phule’s series of humorous sci-fi novels written by Robert Asprin.


Chris also created the cover for the graphic novel edition of David Gemmell’s Legend and this caught the attention of Stanley Kubrick who hired him to work on design elements of the film A.I. (later released as A.I.: Artificial Intelligence after being completed by Steven Spielberg following Kubrick’s untimely death).

Amongst other sessions, I also attended one entitled Under the Covers in which panel members discussed their experiences of the processes through which cover art is chosen. Without doubt, the award for faux pas of the day went to panel member Janie Fenn for her negative appraisal of the artwork selected for the space opera novels of Alastair Reynolds, only to hear the words “I did those” from artist Chris Moore who was in the audience. To her credit, she did grovel on the floor in remorse.

As is now traditional, there was a book launch, replete with a splendid selection of cakes and beverages. The book in question was Amunet – a steampunk/urban fantasy novel  written by Robert Harkess whose reading from same was rather let down by the quality of the sound system, but that didn’t prevent BristolConners from giving him a rousing reception.

Finally, I had a brief exchange with BristolCon regular Jim Burns regarding the proposed commission he has received from Canadian GoT artwork collector Pat Robinson which involves Jim producing cover art for A Feast for Crows in the style of that which graced the first three UK editions of A Song of Ice and Fire. He has agreed and is working on it!

That’s it for this year. Next year’s date will be announced shortly and, barring any unforeseen circumstances, I will most certainly attend.

Peter Jackson adapting Mortal Engines for film

News just in: Peter Jackson is to adapt Philip Reeve’s very well-received young adult fantasy novel Mortal Engines for the screen! More information at the author’s website: Philip Reeve

Philip was a guest of honour at BristolCon 2013 and he was a pleasure to listen to and talk with.

8th September 2018 Update:

The film version of Mortal Engines is scheduled for release on 14th December 2018.