A Joy Forever?

I have discovered a new font. In common (I suspect) with many booksellers, designers and arty types, I do like a nice font. and at the moment I have a new favourite. It is called Doves Type, and has recently been released in an electronic format, which is allowing me to hone my catalogues, brush up my emails and perfect my letters. If only it could do something about the content!


Keats wrote that “A thing of beauty is a joy forever.” Thomas James Cobden Sanderson, and his engraver, Emery Walker certainly didn’t find this to be the case, and it is their story that I find particularly intriguing. The pair of them set up the Doves Press together, and in 1899 engaged punch cutter Edward Prince to create a beautiful type to be used in their books. This he did – and it is lovely.

recovered doves
pic by Sam Armstrong.

By 1909 the Doves Press was in financial difficulties, Sanderson and Walker had fallen out and the partnership was dissolved. Sanderson feared that Walker wanted to use the type to mass produce books (obviously a bad thing!) but under the partnership, he was obligated to allow him access to the type. So instead of this, he threw it off Hammersmith Bridge.  Starting on Good Friday 1913, slowly, (over 4years) he managed (under cover of darkness) to drop 2,800lbs of metal type into the mud in 12lb parcels. That’s commitment to your art! In his diary he described this act as bequeathing the type to the river.

A hundred years later, and the story continues. Robert Green began to re-create the font in a digital format. Having undertaken lots of research, he even managed to locate some of the pieces of type in the mud under Hammersmith bridge. He managed to enlist the assistance of the Port of London’s Diving Team, and eventually 148 of the packages were recovered. This has enabled him to faithfully reproduce the type for the modern age. And a beautiful thing it is too. I have naturally got myself a copy of this, and begun using it everywhere I can (sadly I can’t do so here!) Much as I would like to be the only one out there using it, I feel honour bound to tell you that you can purchase a download of the font from TypeSpec. The pic of the type was by Sam Armstrong of http://www.samarmstrong.co.uk

doves advertThe final twist in the story, and redressing the balance a little, is that Robert Green has permanently loaned half the recovered type to the Emery Walker Trust, who are renovating Walker’s house at 8 Hammersmith Terrace. So finally he gets at least some of the type he was entitled to.

There is a nice little BBC report on the salvaging of the type that you may wish to view below.

Credit card payments & the itinerant bookseller

At the recent AGM for the PBFA, I was asked to look into the various options available for booksellers to take credit card payments at fairs. Well I haven’t forgotten, and have been doing lots of digging and chatting over the last few weeks.
I am assuming here, that this is aimed at the small to medium bookseller, rather than those with a shop and several staff (who probably already have credit card facilities lined up). When I had my shop, I had a card machine that I could take around with me. This worked well, but cost me a rental of £25 per month plus standard transaction fees. Not so good if you only do one fair a month.

The good news is that there are several ways for us to accept credit card payments, and most of them are now far cheaper than this. This obviously isn’t a definitive guide – but it does offer you some options to choose from.

Ultimately, these all work in the same way. There is a small device, or reader, which connects to your mobile phone or tablet. These only work with smart phones with wi-fi or 3/4G access as they need to connect with the provider. Once the payment is taken, you can either print (if you have a portable printer) email, text or hand-write a receipt. A common problem with these devices, is that they are only as good as your phone internet signal. No signal, no transaction! Beyond these features, each differs slightly

Barclaycard Anywhere

 Method: A reader attaches via a cable to your headphone socket on your device. This costs £29.99 + barclaycard_picVAT if you have a Barclays Business Account – otherwise £60 + VAT.
Transaction cost: 2.6% of each transaction. No monthly cost or fixed contract. One drawback is that you cannot take customer not present payments.
The App allows you to keep an eye on your account and see reports. As this is offered by Barclaycard, it is reassuring to customers.


Method: There is a choice of two readers. The “Card reader lite” attaches to your phone via a cable. This is free to the business. There is also a “Card reader Pro” which cost £79 and operates via Bluetooth. This will also take contactless payments. Now that these are up to £30, this is a real plus. Using an App on izettle_readeryour device, you can manage payments and your account.
Transaction cost: These are on a sliding scale. For £0-£1999 per month these are at 2.75% This then falls by small increments with each increase in turnover. So £4,500 would cost 2% After £12,850 per month (oh if only) the rate drops to 1.5% where it remains. There is no monthly cost to this. No fixed contract.
There is also access to izettle where you can see reports and follow up on transactions. I cannot see from their website whether you can take customer not present payments via the website. Perhaps someone who uses this system can comment on this.

Gerry Mosdel recommends this service, and says it has worked well for him. If you use his link to sign up, you will get free transactions when you start: https://www.izettle.com/d/UT47VQ


Method: The reader is a Bluetooth reader. This costs £59.95 (until the end of October). The reader can take chip and pin or contactless payments.

Transaction costs: 2.75% per transaction. However, if the payment is taken via the magnetic strip (npaypal_readerot chip and pin) or customer not present then the fee is 3.4% + 20p. If taking money from overseas, then paypal’s exchange rate tends to be quite punitive. No monthly fees or set term.

One important thing to note here, is that the payment goes into your paypal account – not a bank account. On the other hand – the payment is credited to your account immediately.


Worldpay Zinc

Method: Payments can be taken via the card reader or online. The card reader is a blue tooth device, which currently costs £39.99 (or £29.99 – see below). The website has reports, but also has a page for taking Customer Not Present payments. This is the system I use, and it is handy for taking payments over the phone from customers.

Transactiozinc_appn costs: There are two tariffs with Zinc. If you expect to be an occasional user, then there is a 2.75% tariff with zero monthly cost. If you expect a busy month then there is a 1.95% tariff – but a monthly cost of £5.99. You can switch between the two tariffs each month – so you can set it to the zero fee setting, but phone up and change if you go over £800 (which is when it is worth changing). The new tariff will apply to the whole month.

This is offered by Streamline – who provide a large number of the credit card facilities in shops – this is their “small business” offering.

http://www.worldpayzinc.com If you wish to sign up using this link: ttp://wpzinc.me/2Ya7KnyTYR then you can get £10 off the device.

The price comparison bit

As book dealers, we are not consistently busy. For a comparison here, I have assumed there are 4 months where we take nothing at all. 4 months where we take £400. 2 months of £800 and two months of £3000 (half of which is overseas dealers). This way, we can compare and individual seller, who does a few fairs, and has a reasonable York and ILEC. I have included transaction fees and any monthly cost.

Barclaycard Anywhere: £218.40

iZettle: £209.40

Worldpay Zinc: £194.16

Paypal: £250.90


Obviously you will need to do your own calculations, based on your turnover. But in general, if you only use the reader now and again, and expect a very low turnover, Barclaycard Anywhere is cheapest. If you are hoping to take anything over £7000 per year on cards, then the Worldpay Zinc is cheapest. If contactless is important, then Zinc becomes more attractive, particularly for the lower turn over. Whichever you choose, the best of luck, and may your transactions be many and large

Napoleonic bureaucracy

One of the reasons that I love dealing in rare books and ephemera, is the diversity. 1684-1The many backwaters of knowledge that they lead you into. Part of the joy of being a generalist, is that you have to get to grips with many topics, and learn them quickly.  Yesterday, I was aware that after the battle of Waterloo, the British stayed in France for a short time. Today, I am familiar with the formation of the 5th Brigade of the 3rd Division of the Anglo-Allied Army in Flanders. Useful stuff, I am sure you will agree.

What initially seemed to be a reasonably interesting letter from the Occupying Army of 1816, found on the wall of a French café (and haggled over in my inexcusably bad French, with a poor Madame, who didn’t even have the letter on sale), has left me spending hours looking at the structure of the army, and into some of the personalities of the time.

Poor Sir James Willoughby Gordon (one of the three officers copied into the letter. All things army, must of course be written in triplicate). Despite his rank and obvious skills, he was so “inordinately vain and self opinionated” that he was universally unpopular. Having been sent to the Peninsula to act as Wellington’s quartermaster, he was so arrogant and rude, that he was sent back to England almost immediately. He lived out his days as the Quartermaster General to the Royal Artillery at Horse Guards.

honfleur_1Poor Lt. Col. Marlay, (This letter was his copy). He lost his father to the army, he served in America during the war of Independence, and was captured at the Battle of Saratoga. Our Marlay served with distinction at Waterloo, and was made a Companion of Bath (C.B.)

Poor General Sir George Murray, who instigated the letter. He had been sent across to Canada at the same time that Napoleon was exiled. When the call for his return came, he dashed back across the Atlantic, but too late to take part in the Battle of Waterloo, much to his Chagrin. By the time of this letter, he was Chief of Staff to the Army of Occupation.  He shouldn’t worry too much though. It seems that half of Australia (including the city of Perth) was named in his honour.

Lt. Col Gold (the letter writer himself) seems a much more down to earth character. He came with an excellent pedigree, his father having been with General Wolfe in Quebec, and dying in the battle of Bunker Hill.  Gold served under Earl Cornwallis at the defeat of Tippoo Sahib’s army in India, and took part in the capture of Pondicherry. He was the author of “Oriental Drawings sketched between the years 1791 and 1798″ a sought after item in its own right.

At Waterloo, Gold commanded  the artillery of the 2nd Division under Lieutenant-General Sir Henry Clinton. He was mentioned in dispatches by General Wood, and was appointed a Companion of Bath. In 1816, he commanded the Royal Artillery at the Headquarters of the Allied Army of Occupation, and from time to time, the whole force of British Artillery in that Army until its return from France. Eventually he became a full Colonel. He died in 1841, leaving three sons, who became a Lieutenant-Colonel, a Captain, and a Lieutenant-General (the last commanding the 65th Regiment in New Zealand).

So much useful information, and all coming my way because Marcia chose a particularly quaint café for us to have our afternoon refreshments in. By the way. I also discovered that a Landaulet was a cut down carriage – a truncated Landau.


Happy National Poetry Day

wasteland 3Everyone should have a favourite poet; and mine is, without doubt, T.S. Eliot. I may have flirtations with Carole Ann Duffy and Wendy Cope. I may sometimes give in to the enjoyment of Coleridge. Now and again, I may even admit to liking Keats and Sassoon. But I will always come back to Eliot.

There are all sorts of problems with Eliot. He was Anti-Semitic, and held other prejudices of his age, which we would hope not to tolerate today. He was also American – but I can forgive that as he did renounce his nationality and become a British Citizen (good man!) But ignoring the man himself, it is his poetry that still stands up today.

The Wasteland, in particular, always gives me masses of enjoyment. I would never claim to understand it (despite writing many pages of essays on it for my A level English Lit), but I do still love the use of words, the flow and the playing with language of Eliot.

“April is the cruellest month, breeding / Lilacs out of the dead land”wasteland 1

Even in the first line and a half he manages to confuse me. April brings life and new birth from the dead land, but is still described as Cruel. That hardly seems fair. He does sometimes seem “too clever by half” but I can’t resist a poem that has quotations in seven different languages (go on – count them).

So whichever poem or poet you love, enjoy them today. Dig out a copy of their work and wish them a happy National Poetry Day. They will be quietly grateful.

The UK Consumer Rights Act – the impact for booksellers

legal pic

The introduction of the Consumer Rights Act is important for all retailers.

It applies to anyone selling “any tangible moveable items” so that applies to books, manuscripts, ephemera, maps and pretty much anything that a member of the book trade could sell (except their premises.) The first thing to remember is that for all the jargon, this isn’t too bad for the trade, and any difficulties it may present us can be overcome with professional conduct.

The new legislation assumes that consumer rights form part of our contract with the client. Any goods sold to a consumer must be “of satisfactory quality, fit for purpose and matching its description.” (ATG, issue 2211). Clearly, when dealing with rare and second hand items, the condition is unlikely to be “new” or “as new” so any description made by a bookseller must by its nature be somewhat open to interpretation. It is to avoid this that good bibliographical and condition descriptions become important. (for an excellent and handy guide to proper bibliography, see Laurence Worms excellent new guide “Cataloguing for Booksellers.” *) Once sold, a consumer has rights under the 30 day rule.

This simply means that under the new legislation, a consumer can return to the seller within 30 days if the item is not fit for purpose, or as described. With rare / second hand items, the opportunity to offer a replacement are limited, so the consumer has the right to reject the goods, or to obtain a price reduction.

For those items sold in person, condition has been ascertained, so it is only likely to become an issue where a consumer later notices defects not clearly specified (such as missing plates, or a miss-attribution of date / edition). With distance selling, the description is of more importance than ever. But ultimately, the members of the trade associations should be protected by our professionalism. If we describe correctly, we are safe. If we make errors, we must give refunds.

What this really boils down to in terms of work for members of the trade, is that our “terms and conditions of sale” will need to reflect a willingness to accept returns within 30 days if the goods are not “as described.” We should all be aware that whether we update our terms and conditions or not, we will have to abide by the legislation, and that it overrides any contrary terms we may try to impose.

Finally, there is an important exemption in the Act that will affect many of the trade. The act talks of Consumers. A consumer is a member of the public who makes a purchase. If we are selling to another retailer, then these are considered “trader to trader” contracts, and so are outside the reach of this legislation. Phew!

*published by the Rare Book Society. http://www.ashrare.com/cataloguing.html The entry for this item on Mr Worms website is a beautiful example of his preferred form of description!