As bookshops go into high gear for the run-up to Christmas, Michael Palin appeared like Santa from a far-off land to launch Books for Giving, the Booksellers Association's Christmas Catalogue. As usual, the venue was the Library of the Royal Automobile Club, where the shortly-to-be- enobled Roy Hattersley was forced, very literally indeed, to rub shoulders with Edwina Currie, Rolf Harris, Spot the Dog, Tony Bullimore and sundry other authors, agents, publishers - and yes, even one or two booksellers. The latter group was surprisingly thin on the ground, but given that the assembled crowd must have broken even the most lax fire regulations that was perhaps just as well.
Palin had long been sought as the guest of honour and choice - but he's always been away travelling. Indeed, he was away last month at the time the BA usually holds the bash, moved especially to accommodate him. He revealed that he'd been on a promotion tour for Pole to Pole and observed that, in an Australian department store, he was required to sign in the cosmetics department. He noted that Christmas, far from being the season of goodwill, is "the season of quite unbridled viciousness, as publishers' reps rearranged the stockpiles to their own advantage and customers attacked each other to get the shop's last Delia Smith or some such".
David Campbell, the philanthropic publisher of the Everyman's Library, is putting pounds 4 of his money into a project called the Millennium Library Trust, which will see 4,500 state secondary schools and 1,500 British Council offices each receiving a complete set of the 250 titles which, by the millennium, will comprise Everyman's Library. In addition, Campbell is to provide six CD-Roms, each exploring the socio-cultural history of the past six centuries, and he will set up an Everyman's Website.
The idea came to Campbell - who runs Everyman's from unprepossessing offices above a Soho porn shop - after a string of announcements from the Millennium Commission, all devoted to building projects. He put in a proposal with the result that the Millennium Fund will provide matching funds of pounds 4m.
We all know the feeling: there you are at Heathrow, bags checked, de- mob happy - just ready to spend a little money. Wel1, how about pounds 32,000 on a book? Not just any book, of course, but a rare 1685 Fourth Folio of Shakespeare's Plays, complete with original engraved frontispiece by Droeshout. Or maybe you want something a little cheaper - say a signed 1844 edition of Alice's Adventure's in Wonderland, a bargain at just pounds 4,830. Pop along to Heathrow Terminal 4 where Bauman Rare Books has just opened its first branch outside the United States, where it has galleries in Philadelphia and New York.
The company President, David Bauman, who founded the company some 25 years ago, observes that an airport is the ideal location: "books and travel are a perfect combination". Colin Hargreave, Retail Director of Heathrow Airport, notes: "Our passenger profile in Terminal 4 is ideally suited to Bauman Rare Books, with a large proportion of American and Japanese customers who are keen to find unique products." Presumably, that Shakespeare is not a whole lot cheaper than a round-trip on Concord and it would be the ultimate in beach-reading one-upmanship, even though sun, sand and Ambre Solaire would rather spoil the binding.Reuse content