Sunday, July 31, 2011

Carnivorous Plants of Australia Volume 3 by Allen Lowrie.

Carnivorous Plants of Australia Volume 3 by Allen Lowrie.  Hardcover book published 1998.

I’ll get to the point quickly.  Where’s volume 1 and 2 ?  This a conundrum that most booksellers at some point experience.  Indeed, I believe I’m not the only bookseller who has a few single volumes of multi volume sets sitting around waiting patiently for the others.  You find these lonesome refugees floating in the ocean of orphaned tomes and you just can’t resist…

A number of years ago I found volume 2 of “The Voyage of the Discovery” by Captain Robert F. Scott published by Macmillan 1905.  This was actually a “me” purchase, in other words, for the personal shelf not the Huc & Gabet shelf.  Anyway, I spent $20 and then found a copy of volume 1 for sale in New Zealand which I then bought and landed here for around $100… this means that I paid $120 in total.  At the time the set was worth around $200 and a quick check on the net of similar condition copies and it is still worth around $200.  I felt and still feel a little chuffed at my exercise in thrift.

So getting back to Carnivorous Plants of Australia.  Volume 3 is listed on line as being worth a bit and a quick check of the other volumes and…. I can’t find any other volumes listed for sale.  In other words this is a very rare set of books.  Still it would be nice to have the whole set and not just the third volume.  In the meantime I will try and sell the book as it is, as my shelf of orphans is a little full at the moment… the truth is, I reckon it will sell regardless.  So was I right in purchasing this single volume?  I think you know the answer.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Pirates Pocket Book

The Pirates Pocket Book, edited by Stuart Robertson.  Hardcover book published 2008.

Ahoy, me Hearties!   
It’s not everyday that I get asked if I’m a Pirate, but whilst handing over me pieces of eight so as to purchase this book, I was indeed asked that question… the question that everyone wants to know the answer to… am I a pirate?

I calmly lowered me eye patch, quieted me parrot and put away me jolly roger and with great composure answered.
“No. I am not a pirate.” 
I then paused and carefully considered the second part of my reply. 
“That’s why I need this book.”

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Airport fiction.

Only once in my life have I had the need to seriously consider buying a book at an airport.  It was for a flight from Frankfurt to Delhi and I had just finished reading whatever the book was that I had been reading and in desperation began to consider the airport as a prospective place for the purchase of reading material. The benefit of an airport bookshop/bookstall/newsagency is of course that they are more likely to have books in English which is not always that easy when your travelling in non English speaking countries. The downside is of course that airports tend to sell airport fiction.

So why do i need a book for the plane?  It’s a long way from Frankfurt to Delhi and quite honestly I couldn’t think of anything worse than inflight movies or inflight radio being my only form of entertainment for that amount of time.  Of course things are a little different now with multichannel video players and the ability to watch the map that indicates where you are in the world at any given point in time (stimulating). But back then, and it wasn’t that long ago, a book was a real necessity for a long flight.

Airport fiction.  Not really an interest of mine.  Tom Clancy… not interested, Particia Cornwall… not for me, James Clavell… I don’t think so and John Grisham, well I tried him once but to be honest, it didn’t grab me at all… despite an enthusiastic recommendation at the time.  Anyone reading this who likes these writers (or others of the same ilk), and there are many of you out there, I think that it’s great that you like it… it’s just not for me.  So it was with great trepidation and a little anxiety that I began my quest/perusal of the Tom, Patricia, James and John filled shelves at Frankfurt airport.

To cut a long story short.  I ended finding and purchasing:

And the Ass saw the Angel by Nick Cave.  Hardcover published by Black Spring Press 1989 (first edition).

… although mine was a paperback… and not a hardcover first… which is what I currently have for sale… which is why I’m writing about it here in this blog.

Wikipedia describes airport fiction as, “fast paced and easy to read.” Oh boy.  I didn’t know that that was what I’m meant to buy at the airport.  Fast paced and easy to read is not how I would describe Nick Cave’s first magnum opus.  It’s been a few years since I read it but I do remember thinking that it was a little verbose and not necessarily an easy read particularly with children crying, people brushing past on their way to the toilet and people snoring (in the plane… not in the book).  Overall I thought the book had some great moments and I have stuck to this point of view ever since… “fast paced and easy to read” it ain’t.  So sadly my one and only moment of airport fiction wasn’t strictly speaking “airport fiction”… although if I bought it at an airport and read it on a plane, then…

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Coburg Centenary 1839 – 1939

Coburg Centenary 1839 – 1939: Official Souvenir, compiled by Walter Mitchell, edited by William H. Elsum.  Paperback booklet published under the Auspices of Coburg City Council 1939, 24 pages.

In 1939, Coburg, a northern suburb of Melbourne Australia, celebrated the centenary of its founding.  As with many such festive occasions at this particular period in time, this required the publication of some sort of programme/souvenir.  Here we have the “Official Souvenir” as apposed to the unofficial souvenir (?).  Celebrations took place between August and October of that year… interestingly Germany invaded Poland right in the middle of the celebrations… not that this had anything to do with Coburg, but it’s sort of interesting to think about what was happening in the rest of the world at this time.  Not that the rest of the world would have been particularly concerned with interrupting Coburgs centenary, but I reckon a few Coburgians might have been a little concerned with what was happening in the rest of the world.  The booklet disappointingly doesn’t contain copious amounts of history (about Coburg or the second world war), but it does have some excellent advertising material of businesses in the area and it does contain a small amount of history.

The “Official” celebrations included:
Historical Procession
Cycle Races
Civic Church Services
Tennis Tournament
Cricket Match
Football Match
Baby Show
(and more)

These people obviously knew how to party and it’s good to see that Cricket was included even though it was the off season.  There are many more activities listed… but I can’t seem to find reference to, or celebrations by, Coburgs original inhabitants (Woiwurrung-speaking Wurundjeri of the Kulin Nation)... maybe they weren’t invited.  Let's hope that at the forthcoming bi-centenary, which is only a few years away, the invites and events organised by the Peoples Republic of Moreland, will be a little broader in scope.

  Sydney Road, Coburg 1939

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Heredity and Variation: Continuity and Change in the Living World by L.C. Dunn

Heredity and Variation: Continuity and Change in the Living World by L.C. Dunn.  Hardcover book published by The University Society 1934, 120 pages.

This book is part of a series entitled “Highlights of Modern Knowledge”.  The Heredity and Variation in the title is referring to the science of Genetics.  Most of you are probably aware that Mendel  the master mutant pea grower, had a lot to do with the early research into genetics… even though no one knew about it at the time… or nearly no one… I’m pretty sure he didn’t know about it either.  But by 1934 when this book was published Mendel was the pin up boy of Geneticists worldwide and this book doesn’t shy away from referencing the man.  Indeed the author (or publisher) even included this photograph of his monument.

Of course science has come a long since 1934 and I’m not really sure how relevant the information in this book is to today’s geneticists but you know what… it’s still science and it’s still interesting (?). The reason this book caught my attention is the wonderful photographs and illustrations that it contains. 


So how sellable is this book?  Well I’ve just listed it for the second time on ebay and to tell you the truth, I’m not feeling very confident re a sale.  I’d like to sell it… but then again, I’d like to sell all the books I have for sale… but no, what I’m referring to here is that I would like to sell this “lovely” book.  This is a bit difficult to explain as I’m sure there are those of you out there who are probably reading this thinking: “What the hell is this crazy guy talking about?  Of course he wants to sell books.  He’s a bookseller.”  Sometimes I find a book that I think is nice and as per the subtitle of this blog, interesting as well.  Yeah I want to make $$$ from it, but I also want it to go to a new home, that appreciates it.  A bit like a puppy… well maybe not quite like a puppy as there’s a lot less mess with this book… I think you get the idea. 

So sadly, I don’t think that this book will be finding a new owner.  Maybe it’s something I can pass on to another book dealer, something that if they can’t sell they can pass on as again and again.  A bit like a mutant pea that retains certain characteristics that are undesirable… in this instance unsellability.  Someone should write a book about it.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Victoria's Brown Coal - A Huge Fortune in Chancery

Victoria's Brown Coal - A Huge Fortune in Chancery: The Sir Willis Connolly Memorial Volume, edited by J.T. Woodcock.  Hardcover book published by The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy 1984.

As the discussion about a Carbon Tax heats up here in Australia, it somehow seems fitting to write about this book now.  It doesn’t actually look at the issue of nasty polluting emissions from coal burning, but rather the history of the coal industry in Victoria along with some history on the science of coal and other coaly facts and figures.  It seems to have all the information you’ve ever wanted on subjects such as: The early history of Briquettes, The Combustion of Victorian Brown Coal, Geology of Brown Coal Deposits etc etc.  If your into burning coal then this is the book for you… (in other words… Tony Abbott, you may be interested in this book).   

Yallourn A power station soon after completion in the 1920s.

Morwell open cut with the 1600 MW Hazelwood power station in the background.

I wanted to scan a photo which had a power station in full smoking glory, but unfortunately these were the 2 closest images that I could find in this particular book.  Hazelwood is apparently one of the worst offenders for green house gas emissions in Australia and has been described as Australia’s "dirtiest" power generator… this information is not contained in this book… (Tony… this really is the book for you.). 

Friday, July 8, 2011

Evatt: A life by Peter Crockett.

Evatt: A life by Peter Crockett.  Hardcover published by Oxford University Press 1993.

The political biography is a strange beast.  A popular politician will have any number of biographies and/or autobiographies lining the shelves of those that are interested in that sort of thing.  Apparently the current Australian prime minister is a bit of a fan of the political biography. This makes me wonder if she uses them as instruction manuals or is it more of a casual entertainment?  For whatever reason, I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that this particular title is sitting on her shelf… possibly well thumbed and in a used condition. 

Herbert Vere Evatt, also known as Doc Evatt, was a major Labour politician here in Australia in the twentieth century.  He was also the leader of the Labour party in opposition for nine years, never quite making it to the big chair.  He did various other things as well including: jurist, writer and he was President of the United Nations General Assembly (…Kevin Rudd may have this book as well).  I won’t go into all the interesting things that this guy did, but let me say he was a very interesting man and deserves a book (or two) to be written about him. 

A few years ago I had another copy of this biography and was pleasantly surprised to find that it was worth a few $$$ and indeed it sold with very little effort.  Recently I listed this particular copy on ebay to no avail.  Yep, no sale… indeed no interest at all. (Sellers can tell how many people have looked at a book, in this instance 5, and how many people are watching a book… there were none).  So I’m still scratching my head over this one.  The book is still worth a few $ on the www.  It hasn’t lost its value.  I get the feeling that Doc Evatt may have been forgotten as other politicians take centre stage in Australian political history (?).

One possible answer is that everyone who wants a copy, has it.  Labour party numbers are dropping and I guess Julia and Kevin already have their copies … What I need to happen is for the party numbers and therefore interest in the Labour party and its history to increase.  This book may be on my shelf for a while.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Cooking with Kurma: More great vegetarian dishes by Kurma Dasa

Cooking with Kurma: More great vegetarian dishes by Kurma Dasa.  Hardcover book published by Chakra Press 1998.

It was in the 1990s that I first became acquainted with Kurma.  For various reasons I was in a situation where I occasionally had little choice but to watch his cooking program that was on Australian TV at the time.  I wasn’t, and I’m still not, a great fan of cooking programs on the telly, so it was very begrudgingly (whilst being polite) that I watched this chirpy Australian Chef cook up tasty looking vegetarian tucker*.

By today’s standards, Kurmas world was a little sterile and quite honestly a little plain.  He was obviously working to a budget and at this time in the history of cooking shows, I think there was a slightly different aesthetic to these programs (…possibly none).  Now the reason I’m writing about Kurma is that after watching a couple of episodes, I started to warm to the guy.  He was very passionate in a very sincere and honest way about his food… that’s the way I viewed it.  I’m not a vegetarian (don’t be shocked, there are a few of us around) yet strangely, I felt compelled to watch and even began to enjoy this guys enthusiasm for vegetarian food.

There is something I haven’t mentioned about Kurma and indeed it’s sort of not important to the food.  Hanging on the wall of his Spartan kitchen each week was a picture of this bloke:  

(If you don’t know who he is… well I guess you don’t know.)  Yes, Kurma Dasa was and still is a member of the Hare Krishna movement.  Ahhhh (the penny drops), that’s why he only cooks vegetarian food.  I can’t remember him ever mentioning anything about being a follower of Krishna and I think this was another thing about the program that intrigued me at the time.  It was obviously working on a few levels, that is, encouraging people to not eat meat by enthusiastically showing them some fantastic alternatives, whilst casually promoting the Hare Krishna movement.  Well I didn’t feel the need to shave my head or begin chanting, but I did learn how to use Asafetida powder and how to broaden my cooking horizons.  The program didn’t curb my carnivorous ways… sorry Kurma.

So here we are many years later and I find a cookbook by my favourite Hare Krishna and yeah, I pick it up… and yeah, I write about it here.  Which reminds me… i must buy some chickpeas. 

* Tucker: Australian and New Zealand word for food.