A few books which I have been waiting for in paperback have made their appearance since Christmas. Firstly Alis Hawkins' Testament, which is well reviewed on Amazon. It came out in January and must be selling well as Amazon seem to be short of copies. There was a long gap between the hardback of Testament being sold out and the paperback publication, and now the paperback availability looks thin. I am aware that the Macmillan New Writers series is a bit lighter in terms of publicity and they were Alis' publishers for the hardback. The paperback is the Macmillan imprint Pan; are they (Pan/MNW) being a bit measly with their print runs I wonder? It would be interesting to hear from a MNW writer to see what they think.
The much awaited (in my mind at any rate) An Expert in Murder by Nicola Upson came out in pb earlier this month. It is a very nice looking retro piece set in the 1930s in the classic murder vein, and starring, very cleverly, the author Jospehine Tey as one of the characters. I love Tey and I am looking forward to this novel and I so hope it does not disappoint.
Also much awaited after its blaze of blogosphere publicity last year, is the very inventive Daphne by Justine Picardie. It has a triple layered narrative following the life of the novelist Daphne du Maurier; the entirely fictional life of an unnamed modern heroine who is studying Daphne whilst her own life begins to echo that of Daphne's most famous novel Rebecca; and lastly, and for me, most interestingly, the novel also explores the shadowy world of Alex Symington, disgraced librarian, stealer of manuscripts and rare books and Daphne's contact as she works on a life of Branwell Bronte. I would imagine many people are drawn to Justine's work by the Daphne elements here but for me the truly outstanding sections of the work are those involving Symington. Yes my interest is partly personal (living locally to the Bronte area and working in the world of secondhand books), but it seems to me that Justine has really pulled off the character of Symington: a wonderful character both sinister and shambling, in love with the works he collects, and in part with their writers, but also predatory, a pest and a destroyer of literary heritage. If you haven't read it yet the paperback is out on 2nd March.
Thank you to everyone who participated in the survey this week. Unsurprisingly Amazon received the most 'ticks' followed by Abebooks and then EBay. Antiqbook and Ibooknet had one each and the other sites that I asked about (Biblio, Ukbookworld and ZVAB) received no positives. In the context of last week's discussion on the effect of flat rate postage imposed on dealers (rather than set by them) and how that rate affects the books we might stock, then what is most interesting here is that Amazon and EBay account for just short of 60% of the sales. So, from our admittedly tiny survey, most used book sales take place on sites with the flat postage rate. This bears out my experience with my own sales, which are led by Amazon and my EBay shop followed by my own site and Antiqbook. Over time this pattern is going to affect which books we sell, especially if they are worth under £10 or even £20. This in turn of course affects which books you are able to buy. Interesting times.