Wednesday, September 09, 2009

The Problem in Hand

It is just over four months since I began my new job. On my first day I was given a desk, a chair, a computer and 20,000 books. I was also told that there was no budget for my salary and the project had to be 'self-finacing'. No pressure there.

Fortunately, I have been lucky. Every crate of books I've opened has yielded at least a dozen really good books, some of which are worth hundreds of pounds (it's shocking to think that these titles used to be dumped on landfill sites) and the sales have been really good. As a result, I am now managing a growing department.

This is obviously a 'good thing', but I do have slightly mixed feelings. I love wading through crates of old books and as the sales increase, I seem to be spending an increasing amount of time filling in spreadsheets, dealing with enquiries and managing people. I'm not complaining. I have a really good team and it's great to see the project go from strength to strength, but I don't want to completely lose contact with the books, particularly gems like these:

These are all titles that I have found during the last seven days and I can't tell you how happy it makes me to find these gems. I particularly enjoyed The Backward Child, which includes a very useful chapter on how to deal with left-handedness. On a serious note, books like these are utterly chilling (my oldest son suffers from several problems and I've been dismayed by the attitudes of certain people in the teaching profession. I can't begin to imagine what parents must have gone through in the past).

The Onanism title was produced by a Catholic publisher (I'm not an expert on these matters, but if you're going to demand clerical celibacy, is it really fair to stop priests taking the law into their own hands?). Like being left-handed, the aim of this book is to make people feel bad about what comes naturally.

As for the two remaining jackets, they're a refreshing change from the predictable designs of modern book covers. They may be the work of madmen, but at least they're not dull.

As my department gets bigger, the number of strange book jackets and intriguing bookmarks I come across will diminish, but all hope is not lost. I appear to have recruited some like-minded peple who also appreciate the joys of garish covers and mysterious ephemera, so I hope that they'll furnish me (and you) with further gems.


Anonymous said...

Disturbing eyes on that 'Gay'.

Richard de Pesando MA(RCA) said...


JRSM said...

Wonderful! Here's a garish modern cover in the spirit of the gay mortician:

The Poet Laura-eate said...

I sympathise with your sadness Steerforth, but am conversly thrilled to know you are becoming a victim of your own success like this.

And the like-minded colleagues surely don't go amiss either.

Sublime titles by the way - do sublime titles tend to raise a high price in their own right? I do hope so. This little handful has got to be worth its weight in gold, surely?

Shocked to hear about the landfill fate. Thank goodness you came to the rescue. Well of some of them at least.

Grey Area said...

Thanks JRSM - I shall now have nightmares of Jessica Bel swirling towards me as a giant face - swastika...

Steerforth said...

James - thanks for that link. I'd love to know:

a. How someone could design such a hideous cover

b. What possessed someone in publishing to give it the tumbs-up

Are they now working at Tutis?