RARE BOOK GUIDE - THE RUNNERS, THE RIDERS & THE ODDS

03 May 2009

Buying or Selling? The Apprenticeship...


JENNINGS: We'll be quite pleased to take fifteen shillings for them. That's what you said they were worth.

MR BARLOW: Ah, if you'd wanted to buy 'em they would be, but if you want to sell 'em -- well, that's different isn't it?










We were visited recently by the young hopefuls from 'The Apprentice'. They had a box of books to sell and we made an offer and they went on to check out another shop in picturesque Cecil Court. Good publicity as the show (featuring Cro Magnon man Alan Sugar) seems to be watched by half the population. The next day our buyer Gill went on a house call and was immediately recognised by the seller who had seen her on telly the night before. At Cecil Court the contestants produced the commonest Bond book - 'Octopussy' and negotiated a price of £100 just for that. Slightly hard to swallow, as it can still be obtained fine/ fine for less than £90.

This reminded me of the above cartoon featuring the famous schoolboy Jennings, his mate and Mr. Barlow, a typically seedy bookseller of yesteryear. Like Jennings the Apprentice crowd didn't seem to have a clear appreciation of how dealers work and either seemed to want (and, oddly, get) full retail price or failing that any old price the buyer might name.

They were also shown doing their research with printed price guides, whereas the Web would probably be quicker and more accurate. They seemed to think that they might find end users for their bric-a-brac in pubs, even selling a skeleton to a toper for £150, also somewhat hard to credit. It was fun to watch and if you have to see reality TV it's probably the best--naked ambition, cunning, bastardry, massive unwarranted egos and the wit and wisdom of the Amstrad knight-- Sir Alan Sugar (in the States it's Donald 'bad hair' Trump.)

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Looks more tweedy than "seedy" your seller of yesteryear. What passes for "typical" these days?

Anonymous said...

I guess it's the way he is talking. 40 years ago you got a different type in bookshops--the unlettered shopkeeper, the canny costermonger. The internet is bringing him back.

Anonymous said...

Hi,
I too was amazed at the century paid ,methinks he did it for the camera's. I thougt a fiver the box my self,what was the rare first edition ?
What was intriging to your staff about the Folio Shakespear ? Isn't the Shylock bout the fiver mark ?
The apprentice crowd are lucky not to be told to FO from a irate bookdealer,who like me gets lots of suited students picking their brains prior to ebay.

Anonymous said...

can we now please flood cecil court with one ton octopussy...

Bookride said...

I remember when there were a ton of Octopussies in Cecil Ct! 10 pence each at one point.

As for the Shakespeare Folio soc -that was dramatic licence on their part--it's a ten pound book at best and can be bought for three--didn't Dali do one?

If that dim bloke from Sandhurst becomes the apprentice I lose a fiver!

C said...

Just as you say the Apprentice folks don't know much about book dealing, so perhaps it may be possible that book dealers are not always savvy to the ways of TV crews.

All the "sales" are set-ups, OK?

Bookride said...

What's that line in House of Cards?: "You might very well think that, but of course, I couldn't possibly comment."

I tell you this though, TV crews usually leave a mess- this lot were not too bad...

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Edwin Moore said...

Damn & buggery I missed it - we never watch Apprentice.

Post Mortem Books said...

I do hope our dear Nige (W) got his £100 back from the TV people. I'd hate to think he'd lost his touch and was forking out a hundred squid for Octopussy.

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