Sunday, 30 March 2008

An Excellent Primer on Cosmology

This blog is good news for some of us part-time booksellers as we don't always get the latest blockbuster before they are released. So any comments we make are after the event and that is what I shall do here as some books are worth more than a pre-publish hagiograph and those that aren't will never be missed (refer here to Gilbert & Sullivan). Anyway,
I have just finished an excellent tome on Cosmology called The State of the Universe by Pedro Ferreira. I have read - or to be more accurate tried to read, some of his articles published a few years ago but I couldn't follow them as his use of grammar was very esoteric . So I was intrigued when I saw this tome on our shelves, thinking it would be as impenetrable as his previous works. What a surprise! It's very well written and lucid (maybe he has got a good editor). Also, he takes the reader in a step by stairs approach in the unfolding of Cosmological Theory, providing a non-esoteric working out of most of the important laws of the physical Universe from the Babylonians to Quantum Entanglement. When we arrive at the later stages of Relativity and Quantum Mechanics, Ferreira is careful in denoting what has been proven and that what is theoretical.
The real reason why I am trumpeting this work is that I now have a much clearer understanding of Keplers Elipses & the laws that pertain therewith.........Christopher

Wednesday, 26 March 2008


The British newspaper the Telegraph recently carried a report about the Vatican allegedly pressuring the Italian publisher of an exciting novel which will be published locally in May. Imprimatur is set in Rome in 1683 during the Battle of Vienna, and during their research the authors apparently found evidence that Pope Innocent XI had funded the Protestant hero William III (William of Orange). You can read the Telegraph article here. We expect stock of Imprimatur in early May. Dave

Thursday, 20 March 2008

A Few Days in the Life of a Bookseller

I'd like a bookshelf for every time I've heard the words, "I'd like to work in a bookshop". As if the job only entails reading books all day, interspersed with the odd literary conversation with customers only too happy to throw money into the open till! It is a wonderful career, which you follow for love, not money, and it certainly has compensations for the hard work of getting books on the shopfloor and into readers' hands(and that's another topic altogether!)

I was pretty damned lucky to attend a booksellers' conference in Alice Springs just recently. Yes! Booksellers have conferences! Likeminded owners and employees of independent bookstores gathered together, discussing and learning about various topics, book and business both. But the highlights are always the authors, who are coerced/cajoled/carefully selected to address the gathering.

This year we started with the inimitable Don Watson regaling us with tales of his travels by train within the USA and the book, American Journeys, which was the result. What an amazing companion he would be (and you know, he's not that bad-looking either...)

Kate Grenville was there, surprising an assortment of interstate booksellers who did not recognise her, when she casually joined in conversations and was generally a warm and witty presence round the tables. Kate is working on a new book concerned with one of the most interesting characters on the First Fleet. I don't know how much I can say, so will leave it there, but suffice to say, it will be eagerly awaited by her many fans (and the booksellers who she so impressed!)

One of my favourites was Thomas H Cook, an author of the most exquisitely unfolding psychological thrillers. Usually in his books, a death has occurred, and it is not the police procedural that is important, but the profound effects of the death upon those around. What a delight to meet him - a charming southern gentleman, with a glorious drawl and courtly manners. His new book will not be out till July (Master of the Delta) and it certainly sounds worth waiting for!

I had the great good fortune to share dinner with Geraldine Brooks one night. She is witty and perceptive, has the most infectious giggle and a great and abiding interest in the people around her. I think each one of us at the dinner table came away feeling we had met one of the most interesting and intelligent of people. I loved her new novel, People of the Book but so have many others, making it a well-deserved number one bestseller.

David Michie took a room full of booksellers and showed them how to do a two-minute meditation. Let's just say there were a lot of people who may not have been open-minded about the subject, but might now see the benefits. Have a look at his new book and you might also be convinced!

One of my favorite historical novels last year was Blood of Flowers by Anita Amirrezvani Anita has an interesting personal story herself, born of a Lithuanian mother and an Iranian father, and she was a most interesting speaker. Her book is on the Orange Prize longlist this year.

Tim Winton was the 'surprise' guest speaker this year, but it's pretty hard to disguise someone like Tim in a town like Alice (sorry, I've been dying to slip that allusion in!) We were privileged to hear him read from his new novel due in May, Breath What can I say? It will be something beyond special.

The gala dinner speakers were Judith Lucy who has a new book also due in May, called The Lucy Family Alphabet. I reckon this will be tragi-comedy writ large, and will have the added advantage of showing you your own family, no matter how odd, is nowhere near as eccentric as Judith's. The other big name to drop from the conference is Peter Carey. He also read from his novel His Illegal Self. Not my favourite of his works, I'm beginning to think he should start on topics nearer to his life - or go back to the great imaginings of his earlier stories. But one should be grateful when famous authors acknowledge the booksellers. Shouldn't one?

So, yes, working in the book trade can have its moments of true pleasure. What a shame conferences only come but once a year - thankfully the books come more frequently! Lindy

Eureka Science Prizes

Last night some colleagues and I attended the launch of the 2008 Australian Museum Eureka Science Prizes. Abbey's is a long-time sponsor of the Eureka's, which keep on getting bigger and better each year.

The launch was held in the museum's brand new Dinosaurs exhibition which is absolutely brilliant. I highly recommend you visit it - you won't be disappointed. Dave

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Benjamin Andrew Footpath Library

The Benjamin Andrew Footpath Library empowers homeless and disadvantaged people by delivering a regular supply of books. They survive through the generosity of corporate and public donations and can be contacted via

Sarah Garnett who has been running the service for a few years now, started with the gift of a book to a homeless man she knew. He spent the nights under a streetlight reading, as it was too unsafe for him to sleep. From that small start, she now has a weekly service, providing books free of charge to her visitors - they can take what they like, for as long as they want, and return -or keep - the books whenever they like.

Orange Prize Longlist

The longlist for the Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction has been announced. Two noteworthy books are Sorry by Gail Jones, which is also on the Miles Franklin longlist and The Blood of Flowers by Anita Amirrezvani, who was at the recent Adelaide Festival. The shortlist will be announced on 15th April and the winner on 4th June. Dave

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Attention all fans of Shaun Tan

Great news! Shaun's first book since 'The Arrival' is being published in June. 'Tales from Outer Suburbia' contains fifteen intriguing illustrated stories about the mysteries that lurk beneath the surface of suburban life.

The publishers, Allen & Unwin, have kindly made available in PDF format the first two chapters. You can read them here. Dave

Sunday, 16 March 2008

'Gone with the Wind' and copyright

April will see the publication in Australia of an "unauthorised" sequel to 'Gone with the Wind'. It's called 'The Winds of Tara' and it was written by Katherine Pinotti. It was published in the U.S. a few years back, but because the copyright for 'Gone with the Wind' is still held by the estate of Margaret Mitchell, and they didn't agree to it's publication, the book was banned. They did agree to the publication of 'Rhett Butler's People' by Donald McCraig.

Apparently, it can be published in Australia because we have a different time limit on when copyright expires than they do in the U.S., which keeps extending the time books and other creative works are subject to copyright - something Lawrence Lessig and others have been highly critical of. In 'Free Culture: The Nature and Future of Creativity' Lessig argues that this is stifling creativity and innovation. Nobody wants to go back to the way publishing operated in the 18th century, when booksellers like Edmund Curll showed a total disregard for the rights of authors to earn a living from their work, but Lessig mounts a pretty persuasive argument that the law as it stands in the U.S. has gone too far the other way.

Unfortunately, booksellers in Australia aren't allowed to sell this book to people who live in the U.S., so I guess the biggest winners in this exercise will be the people who buy copies from us and sell them on eBay to Americans... Dave


Welcome to the Abbey's Bookshop blog. We will be using it to keep you informed on new and forthcoming books, news in the world of books, and anything else we think you will find useful and entertaining. Enjoy! Dave