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.)

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