RARE BOOK GUIDE - THE RUNNERS, THE RIDERS & THE ODDS
04 April 2007
Lady Colin Campbell. Empress Bianca...the grail quest begins
This trivial book started me on a quest. I was stuck up North for an auction, with just my laptop, holed up at a Trust House Forte. The shop rang to say they had found an Empress Bianca, a faintly notorious withdrawn book. I checked the various book sites. I was alerted to its potential value because there were no copies on the web and 50 wants for it at ABE. Anyway, I carried on reading, ploughing through 1000s pages of wants. The grail quest had begun. You might call me a sad bastard but you've probably never been to Middlesborough. The results of that exploration I am gradually sharing with an indifferent world...P.S. We decided to put it on ebay where it made bloody near $2000. An almost obscene figure for such a book.
Lady Colin Campbell. EMPRESS BIANCA. Arcadia Books, London 2005
Current Prices $450-$900 /£220-£450
SOCIETY NOVEL/ BANNED BOOK
Last copy that came through we sold on ebay for about $900 using this description:- 'An authentic surviving copy of the book that became the high-society scandal of 2005. The always-controversial Lady Colin Campbell – not nobly-born herself, but the divorcee of a Scottish lord – had scandalized the British aristocracy before with exposes of the private lives of Diana and other royals. Although she claims that the protagonist of this her first novel, the bewitching but dangerous Bianca Barnett, was based on her cousin, Lily Safra society billionairess and close friend of, inter alia Charles and Camilla, disagreed: in July her legal firm sent Campbell and her publishers a letter pointing out seventeen close parallels between the lives of Bianca and Safra, with instructions to have the book withdrawn from sale and all unsold copies pulped. Unable to face the financial cost of a battle in the courts the publishers agreed to Safra’s demand, thus averting what would have been a spectacular clash between two of society’s most notorious (and litigious) femmes - although Campbell has since declared her intention to sue Safra for loss of earnings. Now, a year after the pulping, copies are distinctly thin on the ground.
This one is more or less as new in a nearly pristine, unclipped dustwrapper...' Forgive the word 'pristine'. This is the world of Vanity Fair, Dominick Dunne and Ladies who Lunch. The 'deeply shallow' - to quote Ricky Gervaise. [ W/Q *** ]
VALUE? Not as much as before. Too many copies have come out of the woodwork, although a copy of the slightly less desirable US ed by Bliss Books sits on ABE at $1500 it passes through ebay almost weekly for sums around $500. Sometimes it goes into the late hundreds but has made as little as $400. If it was a stock I'd consider dumping it, scandals tend to lose their resonance over time. Our first copy on ebay had the distinction of being mentioned in London's evening paper - the 'Standard.' STOP PRESS. I bought a signed copy in fine condition. Lady Campbell signs with her real name thus: ''With best wishes, Georgie Ziadie Campbell." It's on the mighty Abe here.