Bibliophiles flock to book fair


This weekend some of the most sought-after titles in literature were on sale at Oxford’s annual Book Fair.
A first edition of Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale, priced at £28,000, and a sixteenth century Bible were among the books on sale at the event.

An estimated 2000 visitors attended over Saturday and Sunday at Oxford Brookes.

Stephen Dick, of Holybourne Rare Books, was the bookseller fortunate enough to be selling the valuable Bond novel. He said: “This is the most iconic twentieth century spy novel and Fleming is one of the most collected authors in the world.”

However, Bond’s debut adventure wouldn’t always have carried such a hefty price tag. Dick explained: “If you take the 100 greatest titles they generally double in value every seven to ten years. We’re talking Shakespeare, Ulysses, Fleming, Jane Austen.”

Event organiser Peter Hill said that the fair was “accessible to all kinds of buyers,” not just those with a few thousand pounds to spare.

“You can find an interesting book by looking around and just walking around. It costs £2 to come and you can handle all the books, the sellers can tell you about them, it may even start some people off on the road to being a collector.”

Historical and cultural importance means a lot to connoisseurs of rare second-hand books and the Oxford Book Fair is a gold mine of literary history. Hill added: “Books that change the way that we look and think about the world will always be valuable to collectors.”

Amongst the stallholders, Lawrence Ilott, of Cobnar Books, was selling what may be the first Bible printed in Cambridge, with an approximate date of 1590 and priced at £4,500, alongside an intricate miniature edition of Boethius’s Consolation of Philosophy, printed in Amsterdam around the same period.

Tony Yates, of Antiquarian Books, was selling individual pages of a fifteenth century French devotional text, while Derek Walter, of Blackwell’s Rare Books, was selling a first edition of C.S. Lewis’s A Grief Observed with the dust cover intact for £150.

The book fair has been running since 1975. It was hosted by the Randolph Hotel until 1990 but for the past 22 years it has been held at Oxford Brookes. Next year the Oxford Book Fair will be moved to April.

English student Alexander Fisher said “Book fairs are always exciting, and its amazing to see these books which have lasted over the centuries- they’re all so beautiful and intricate. But unfortunately my student budget doesn’t quite stretch to thousands of pounds, so I think I’ll be sticking to my Penguin Classics editions”.


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