Monday 24.08.2009

The sun is shining and so the time has come for the annual tour of Edinburgh’s bookshops.  The score at the end of  the first half of the EIBF, if you have been following the journals so far, was Lizzy 2: Bookshops 5.  Should Lizzy simply turn up for the second half for a trouncing or should she mount a defence?  Perhaps adopt new tactics?  Exiting the tunnel at the start of the second half, this is the plan. Coach has drawn up a shortlist of two titles, chosen because they will be difficult to find and to give Lizzy a sporting chance. 

1) Wolf Hall – Hilary Mantel (1st edition, 1st printing) – a book not purchased on publication because it was one of those ill-judged months that Lizzy was attempting a book buying embargo.

2) A Moxon edition of the poems of Alfred Tennyson (the one containing the Pre-Raphaelite drawings).

The referee blows the whistle and we’re off, starting the search at my favourite charity shop, Barnardos in Clerk Street.  The opposition begins to attack with a selection of reasonably-priced fine new hardbacks but not the one Lizzy’s looking for … and there’s no Tennyson at all on the shelves.  (Lizzy 3: Bookshops 5).

Cross the road and walk down to the Oxfam bookshop on Nicholson Street.  No Mantell but there’s a beautiful leather-bound edition of the Tennyson for £12.  It’s not Moxon.  Lizzy returns it to the shelves and turns to walk out. Cue for a surprise attack from the right wing.  From the corner of her eye Lizzy spots a box of special offers – priced at only 0.49p.  The box contains brand new copies of  the stories shortlisted for the 2008 National Short Story Award.  Such a bargain and before you know it, there are two copies in the bookbag.   One for self and one for a blog giveaway, after all Short Story September is only a week away.   (Lizzy 3: Bookshops 7).

A  further wobble in the British Heart Foundation shop as Lizzy spots a pristine-looking 1st edition, 1st printing of Alan Bradbury’s fabulous The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie.   As she’s standing in the queue, however, she spots some slight scratches on the dust jacket.  In an exciting clearance from the goal line, the book is promptly returned to the shelf. (Lizzy 4: Bookshops 7).  Confidence boosted – Lizzy’s defence  holds solid for the next hour. Neither the PDSA charity shop nor Wordpower Books stocking the specific treasures that are being sought.  (Lizzy 6: Bookshops 7) 

The trouble is Lizzy knows exactly where she will find the Moxon Tennyson and that the number 2 bus will take her straight to the front door.  The own goal is inevitable as 15 minutes later, she enters the heaven that is Edinburgh Books in West Port, one of those wonderful shops that has rooms opening into rooms.  Floor to ceiling bookshelves with additional centre-room columns to increase shelf mileage.  Scouting around to find the poetry section …. zooming in on O, P, Q, S, T and there we have it, just one illustrated Tennyson.  Not pristine but in good nick for a volume printed in 1940.   Top and bottom of spine slightly damaged.  Hardly any foxing and most importantly it is a Moxon.  Now it is mine!   (Lizzy 6: Bookshops 8) 

The Hunt for My Moxon
The Hunt for My Moxon

Time to meander back to Charlotte Square,  taking in 2 branches of Waterstone’s on the way.  Spot a 1st edition / 3rd printing of the Mantell in Princes Street and a signed 1st edition / 2nd printing in George Street.  With The opposition no longer getting past midfield, the match today ends at Lizzy 8: Bookshops 8.   How’s that for a fightback?

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