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2003-03, 337, Notes and Queries


Australian Book Trade.

For quite some years the late John Holroyd spoke about and foreshadowed his intention to write a history of the Australian book trade. That it did not eventuate during his lifetime was unfortunate as he was given encouragement by many to produce a comprehensive book. The task was a huge one as John noted in his archive, now housed in the Australian Manuscripts Collection, State Library of Victoria. John was a trained bookseller and had the foresight to collect, research, scribble, jot down and record aspects of the Australian book trade over a period of thirty years.

In 2002, I took the opportunity to read through John’s archive with the intention of editing a manuscript for publication. It has been a painstaking task but having been in book publishing and working as a bookseller in my career I was able to piece together some valuable material.

I am aware that a few attempts have been made to publish John’s material during his lifetime. Shortly before his death, I interviewed John on tape as I felt there were many personal and professional details about John’s life, which were worth recording. John also gave interviews to Peter Crockett at the State Library of Victoria.

It would be fitting to issue posthumously a book acknowledging John’s enormous contribution as an historian of the book trade. The aim is to launch the book on Monday 26 May 2003 in Melbourne, John Holroyd’s birthday.

I am very conscious of the task ahead of me, but taking the practical advice of Nick Dawes of Grant’s Bookshop, I intend to have a timetable and stick with it. Tentatively, I intend to title the book Australian Book Trade: A Bookseller’s Contribution to its History by John Percy Holroyd – the cut-off point being John’s retirement from the trade in 1978.


The book (Illustration) will be a limited edition of 100 copies, case bound numbered and signed. I envisage about 160 pages, A4 in size – trade price $70 each for booksellers. Copies 1-5 are presentation copies and not for sale.

I seek support from booksellers to buy copies at trade price. There is no intention to make a profit; only to recoup production and printing costs. Suggested retail price $120.

The book will be published by Braidwood Press in association with the State Library of Victoria.

Jeff Prentice

Tom Fletcher re John Fletcher

In recent issues of Biblionews the Society’s former Editor of Publications, John Fletcher, has been mentioned off and on. As John died in 1992, many newer members may know nothing about this big, bluff lover of books whose passing was a such grievous loss to the Society. His son, Tom, living at present with wife and baby in New York and continuing loyally to read Biblionews, has informed us that biographical information about his father can be accessed by interested members on his own website at: http://thomasjfletcher.com/JohnFletcher.html

Oh ForWell Set Out Books!

There is one thing that worries me about present day writing and the printing of books in particular. Let me first preface my remarks by stating that I love computers. I have been involved with them for almost thirty years and still believe that they are a boon to civilisation. They have, however, made us lazy and lazier or sloppy or sloppier whichever you like.

Let me give you first an idea of what a paragraph may look like in the future being a conversation between two people.


Does the last paragraph appeal to you? Do you think you can handle reading a book printed in this format? NRN

If you do not support this form of expression (?) then maybe you should support some of us who feel today’s format is getting worse and worse.

The main argument for the sloppiness is that it saves keystrokes, saves time and there is a lesser chance of tenosynovitis!? What a load of rubbish! In fact it is more just plain laziness on the part of printers and the wish of youth to be different.1  Would you rather have the paragraph in the following format?

The main argument for the above is that it saves keystrokes, saves time and there is a lesser chance of tenosynovitis!? What a load of rubbish! In fact it is more just plain laziness on the part of printers and the wish of youth to be different.1 Would you rather have the paragraph in the following format?

Just the double space at the end of each sentence makes the difference! In this article there are 26 such spaces of which 14 are in the second previous paragraph. Another is the current trend to use only capital letters at the beginning of a book title except for proper names. This saves extra work for the little finger. Do you prefer the look of Guide to the Archives of Australia: Records of Individuals or the current Guide to the archives of Australia: records of individuals ?

A third is the contraction of words. Isn’t, wasn’t, can’t etc. outside of speech dialogue. I think it looks terrible in any book that is just a novel let alone in a book that sets out to be a serious dissertation.

Also is it not annoying when you are reading comfortably and suddenly the type for a line or two changes and looks like this? This is a product of the author or the printer being lazy or unwilling to edit the item in order for it to fit the page.

For those who have read this far, a literal a translation of the “future” paragraph is: “Mate; surprise surprise, I am happy. How are you? Are you OK? Long time no see. Today, tonight or tomorrow I will as far as I know at the moment, I will be seeing you. I cannot stop laughing. I do not know where you are, may be you are rolling on the floor laughing out loud are you all right? In my humble opinion you keep it simple stop laughing out loud. Are you free to talk, please call me tomorrow? For your information and your amusement I will be late tomorrow as I am out of luck. I am sad. No sweat. Great men think alike, I have been there and done that. You never know, see you later, by the way, from the bottom of my heart, hugs and kisses. Hope this helps. Goodbye for now”

NRN – no reply necessary!

Jeff Bidgood


1 This is old age speaking, no doubt?



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