Category Archives: Books

Our AbeBooks store is now closed

As of 28th March 2019 we will no longer be selling via AbeBooks.

There are two main reasons behind this decision. The first reason relates the level of technical support provided.

I reported a problem to Customer Support back in March 2016 whereby books were being incorrectly allocated to additional catalog names – names which had already been defined in previous inventory uploads but had not been allocated to the inventory items in question.

For example, I had a catalog for non-fiction books which relate to the types of genre fiction in which we specialise and which was named ‘SF, Fantasy & Horror Related’. By chance I happened to notice that a book from that catalog was additionally being shown in our Fantasy catalog and our Horror catalog. To an experienced programmer, the root cause was obvious – a coding error when parsing the uploaded inventory data. It is a classic case of looking for separators such as commas within a data field without first checking the precise length of the original data field being parsed (i.e. the catalog name in this case).

It should be a simple matter to fix the program code and retrofit the database, but no, they wouldn’t do it as there would soon be a significant upgrade to their system. New meaning of the word “soon” because, in October 2018, the problem still had NOT been resolved. I contacted them again and was told that “Our technicians have explained that this issue has not been resolved to date as it awaits the next scheduled major system update. I have been told that this is scheduled to take place in the first quarter 2019”.

So I contacted them yet again on 27th March 2019 just 4 days before the end of the first quarter and was told by the support person that “I have asked our technicians for details regarding the system update”. At that moment, my trust failed completely. If a frontline customer support person is unaware of the date of a “major system update”, it clearly isn’t going to happen. There were also other examples of poor quality support during our time as customers.

I was particularly annoyed by this because from the potential buyer’s point of view, this looks to be an error made by the seller.

The second reason is that we (UK-based sellers) are being lied to regarding the need to provide government-issued identification in order that a third-party company can process incoming customer payments on behalf of sellers.

The following statement is made by AbeBooks in their payments processing limits section under seller account management in respect of the need to provide photo ids:

“To satisfy the regulations for processing payments on your behalf”

Just to put this in context, the limit to which they refer is the princely sum of $2,500.

At the time of writing, here in the UK there are no legally binding regulations for this level of financial transactions, especially not ones designated in US dollars! Even if there were such regulations, I would still not provide photo ids to a business such as Abebooks which is not regulated by the UK Financial Conduct Authority. In my opinion, this is a data grab by Amazon and I want nothing to do with it.


You can’t judge a book by its colour

Topsham Bookshop

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.

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.

Wild Cards to be a TV series

News from GRRM’s blog ( that the comic-book style series Wild Cards is to be adapted for television by Universal Cable Productions. Original Wild Cards contributor Melinda M. Snodgrass will be an executive producer on the project.

George and many other authors have been contributing to the series since 1986 (with first publication in 1987), making it the longest running shared world series to date. For those who are concerned that this will be yet another distraction from the Song of Ice and Fire series, George makes the following statement: “I won’t be working on the series myself… my own development deal is exclusive to HBO, and I am writing THE WINDS OF WINTER, as I believe most of you will recall…”

I’m pretty sure that this TV series will not have the global impact registered by Game of Thrones as it is a bit too American for some tastes, mine included. I never did warm to comic-book superheroes of the DC and Marvel type. Ironically, the first Wild Cards publication was a hardcover edition rather than comic-book format, but in 1990 EPIC Comics issued a series in comic-book format. Here is a sample cover:


Wild Cards: Diamonds in the Rough Vol 1 No 2

It is also interesting to note that between 1993 and 1995 George and Melinda M. Snodgrass created a screenplay based upon Wild Cards for the now defunct Hollywood Pictures division of Walt Disney Studios – but it remained unproduced.


Zelazny’s Amber to be adapted for TV

From the people who brought you The Walking Dead comes a TV adaptation of Roger Zelazny’s wonderful Chronicles of Amber. More info here:

Think I’ll hang on to my copies of Nine Princes in Amber for now. Here is the US true 1st edition published in 1970 by Doubleday:


Nine Princes in Amber US First Edition

Allegedly the publishers ordered their warehouse to pulp all copies of Zelazny’s existing books the same day this came in from the printer, so only review copies, pre-orders, and library copies escaped into the wild, thus making non-Ex-Lib copies such as this one a rarity. At the time of writing there are around a dozen such copies to be found for sale via the website.

This copy was acquired from a bookstore in The Hague during the time I was working at the European Patent Office in nearby Rijswijk.

Books at Auction on 21st July

We have several interesting lots for auction in the Modern Firsts section of the 21st July 2016 sale being held by Dominic Winter Auctioneers at South Cerney near Cirencester in Gloucestershire. The lots are as follows:

709 – Douglas Adams. Various titles (7 in total) including the UK firsts of The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and The Restaurant at the End of the Universe.

710 – Douglas Adams. A signed copy of the UK first of The Illustrated Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

716 – Pierre Boullé. The UK first and first English edition of Monkey Planet (the basis for the film The Planet of the Apes).

725 – Philip K. Dick. The UK first editions of The Collected Stories of Philip K. Dick. 5 volumes.

754 – Stephen King. The UK first of Salem’s Lot.

759 – David Lindsay. The Savoy Books 2002 limited edition of A Voyage to Arcturus.

782 – 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 Modern Firsts 21st July 2016

21st July 2016 Update:

A good sale. Six lots sold, the Vollmann set being the non-seller. Results can be downloaded in PDF format via the link given above.