Saturday, 22 January 2011

Oxford book fair outing

On Saturday afternoon, K took me to the Oxford Book Fair. It wasn't really planned - road signs had been appearing over the city directing cars to the event, and then I spotted a poster at work on Friday about it. I then emailed my friend Geraldine, who I met through this blog, and asked her if she'd ever been, and it turned out that she was planning to go, so I thought I should make the effort to go, since it was only 10 minutes drive from our flat! I text Geraldine to describe what I was wearing, and immediately on entering the building she correctly identified me and came up to say hello with her husband. They had already been there for a while, so were able to take me to the childrens book specialists, where we drooled over lovely first edition hardbacks of Chalet School books and many other lovely childrens books, often in their dustwrappers. I was very envious of Geraldine who kept saying that she had such and such a book, having been lucky enough to start collecting before prices went so mad. I did spot a couple of books which I could afford, and having sensibly (?) come out with only a couple of pounds, entered negotiations with Ken to have some money. Two lovely Noel Streatfeilds - Party Frock - which I'd read, and The fearless treasure - which I'd never come across before, but which is a historical novel.

I am not sure how interested I am in book fairs generally; they are aimed at the serious book collector, which, whilst I would describe myself as a serious book acquirer, I don't think I am. I don't have the money to buy beautiful editions of all of my favourite books, and obtain much pleasure from second hand bookshopping which somehow feels a bit different - you are more likely to spot a bargain. If I was to collect an author, it would be Noel Streatfeild, and seeing copies of her books has reignited my desire to collect her books. I don't think I can aspire to first editions (the hardbacks I picked up were later ones), but I would love to own her books in hardback eventually. I am definitely on the look out for her autobiographical "Vicarage" books again as I saw those at the fair (£55 each - eek!).

It was lovely to meet Geraldine and her husband after exchanging so many emails; we went for a cup of tea too.

PS: Lots of people asked commented on my planned trip to Black Swan in my last post - we didn't go in the end I'm afraid. After reading the synopsis and finding out that it was more about eating disorders and self harm than ballet, we thought it seemed like a depressing way to spend my afternoon off. And as it was so sunny we couldn't bear to be stuck inside, and went for a walk instead. I think I may wait for the DVD so that if it's unpleasant, I can just turn it off.


  1. I have never been to a book fair. Sounds interesting.

    Though I think I may be a simple book acquirer like you rather than first editions, etc.

  2. You should keep an eye out in the charity shops and boot sales, because a lot of the time these type of books come up for sale and the seller has no idea how much they are worth.

  3. It was wonderful to meet Verity and Ken at the book fair in Oxford yesterday.

    Yes, I do have the advantage that I was going to book fairs before the prices for the books by so many of my favourite authors shot up and up. Have also had finds in unexpected places, so it's good to keep an eye out wherever you go.

    My book collection is a mix of reprints, first editions,(in some cases there was only one edition) and paperbacks. I'm more interested in the content of the book than the appearance of the books on my shelves.

  4. How fun! I always get scared at book fairs because the books are all wrapped in plastic and are ridiculously expensive. Charity shops are more my milieu - I know where I belong! It can be lovely though to see all those beautiful books with original dustjackets etc. You picked some lovely ones and I hope you enjoy them!

    I think it's wise you didn't go and see Black Swan if you wanted a cheery afternoon - some of the images from it still haunt me! It's an excellent, brilliantly acted film and well worth seeing when you're in the right mood, but only as long as you know what you're expecting!

  5. Exactly my thoughts on Black Swan having seen the trailer last weekend - not sure I'l even manage it on DVD!

  6. I always find book fairs very expensive, and a little too geared to collecting rather than reading. But I have to go, just in case - check everywhere is my book-seeking motto. You did well to find two Noel Streatfields, and I hope to hear more about them ere long.

  7. Joan - I do want to see it but not sure I am strong enough!

    Rachel - I have already enjoyed Party Frock. It is lovely to have it.

    Geraldine - thanks for your kind comment. Like you I think I am more interested in content than the object, but at the same time...

    Vivienne - I do keep an eye out but find that many shops (especially Oxfam) are much better at pricing these days.

    Jo - It was a nice afternoon out - I'd recommend it if one turns up near you - look at the PBFA website.

  8. Being in a bookish atmosphere of any sort is exciting isn't it. The image of you trying to extract some money from Ken made me laugh!

    Glad you had a lovely day out and met a friend.

  9. I used to go to a lot of Oxford book fairs but gave up. I found them rather unfriendly places &, whilst it was lovely to see some choice first editions, the prices were very expensive.

  10. In our local newspaper today, there was a review of The Black Swan film. It sounded violent and potentially upsetting so it seems to me that you made the right decision not to watch it at a cinema. On DVD you have the switch off or skip over options.

    Next PBFA book fair that we intend attending is the one at Cambridge - quicker and simpler car journey for us than going to Oxford, and there's Carluccios (GF pasta) not far from the hall where the book fair is held.


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