I've been good, I really have! I haven't bought any books for ages, since I've been economising in advance of the UK trip. But yesterday I went looking for a Shute to take with me, and couldn't find one, but instead came away with an armful of other books.

Midge Gillies. Waiting for Hitler: Voices from Britain on the Brink of Invasion. London: Hodder & Staughton, 2006. Summer, 1940. Should be an interesting complement to my own research on the early Blitz, though this leaves off where I start.

Peter Padfield. The Great Naval Race: Anglo-German Naval Rivalry, 1900-1914. Edinburgh: Birlinn, 2005 [1974]. A good narrative history which I've used before, now with a new introduction assessing some of the historiography since it was originally published (in particular, the contributions of Sumida and Lambert). Next to it on the shelf was a new book on the same topic, with a very similar title. It looks brilliant but it's $160 (not far short of £70)! Utterly ridiculous.

Anne Perkins. A Very British Strike: 3 May-12 May 1926. London: Pan, 2007. I've been looking for a decent book on the General Strike for ages, and this looks like it fits the bill.

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9 thoughts on “Acquisitions

  1. Unfortunately, all of the volumes in CUP's Studies in the Social and Cultural History of Modern Warfare are like that. Even the paperbacks are $US 45. Presumably Cambridge think the only market is university libraries and mandatory course syllabus sales. That may be accurate, but it must be a bit depressing to the authors.

  2. Most academic publishers do run their books at such a high price. The assumption is that in the main it is universities that want them and if they are that important they will buy them. That unfortuanatly become a problem for those reasearching.

  3. Post author

    I don't mind academic books being a bit more expensive, for sure they have a limited audience; but I've bought other volumes in this series which haven't been that expensive, like the Winter and Prost one. That was a softcover though, and this is a hardcover, I suppose I'll just have to wait for the softcover.

    Not being in publishing, I don't really have a basis to criticise their pricing decisions. But I do wonder how I even found it here. It's a biggish, quality but definitely non-academic bookshop, and I can't imagine that any university in Melbourne is using it as a text (and if they are, I'd like to know which subject so I can go along and audit it!) Libraries would order direct, presumably. Academics too (at least I never see any in the history sections of the bookshops I frequent). So who would buy such a book? It's like the bookshop ordered it in just to taunt me!

    Mind you, I have paid more than that for a book before ... ah, the pains and pleasures of bibliophilia.

  4. Chris Williams

    Never mind that - go read Edgerton's _The Shock of the Old_. It rocks. And you probably need to check out the bits on warfare in any case.

  5. Because of the lousy exchange rate, I am very reluctant to buy any book published only in the UK right now - but when I heard about this my resistance crumbled.

  6. Post author

    £14 for 700 pages -- at least that's value for money! It does look good even aside from that.

    I only rarely buy anything published in the US. We usually get the British edition of any given book here, which I'm happy about as I can avoid having to put up with US spelling :) And US titles -- I'm still annoyed that in a moment of weakness I bought the US edition of John Ferris's The Evolution of British Strategic Foreign Policy, 1919-1926, which for some reason is called Men, Money and Diplomacy there.

  7. Jakob

    I enjoyed The Shock of the Old, but it seemed to me that he was being a little polemical making points that I certainly didn't disagree with. Admittedly, this may be a function of my having taken his history of tech course at IC when I was an undergrad.

    I do sometimes wonder whether the pricing of academic books turns into somewhat of a self-fulfilling prophecy, with higher prices leading to smaller markets and print runs leading to higher prices... Shock of the Old was a pleasant surprise in this regard, but then it wasn't from an academic publisher.

  8. Post author

    I've yet to read it, perhaps I'll bring it with.

    I wonder that too, Jakob. But presumably there are SOME books which are genuinely only going to have a very limited appeal, for example A Catalogue of Patagonian Typewriter Ribbons, 1981-1984 (Volume I: Black). Somebody fascinated by typewriter ribbons may well find it hard to believe that there isn't a market for more than the 20 copies the publisher thinks it can sell, and maybe it's the same here. On the other hand, $160! Geez.

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