Friday, 29 May 2015

Off hunting

The ultimate 1st edition?
Expecting tomorrow to be at the Rare Books London fair hosted by the ABA and PBF at Olympia. It's regarded as one of the rare book world's premier market places, and I - along with thousands of other readers and collectors - will be there looking for interesting items for our respective collections.

What's the best bargain you've ever picked up at a book fair, Deighton or indeed any other author?

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Choose ... wisely

[Just dropped in a little Indian Jones and the Last Crusade reference, did you see?]

Readers, I put up a recent post about ideas for the next Q&A for Deighton Dossier readers which Len Deighton has kindly agreed to do.

I've had some questions through. I'm not going to propose a single theme, but am keen instead to post up interesting - and new questions (check the other interviews here to see what we've already asked as a readership).

Couple of possible themes emerging are FILMS and THE WRITING PROCESS.

However, post up questions on any relevant theme that you'd like to add to the Q&A and, within reason, I'll aim to include them on the Q&A, share it with Len and then, at some point, post it on this blog and the main Deighton Dossier website.

Not an app, but a lagniappe .....

A mysterious lagniappe

I've recently purchased a US first edition of XPD, Len Deighton's 1981 novel which, following in the SS-GB style of alternative history builds a story around a fictitious meeting between Churchill and Hitler early in the war, the discovery of papers of which must be prevented at all costs by the hero of the story, agent Boyd Stuart.

The story itself is good but what's interesting about the US first edition is this lagniappe - or laid-in gift, often used by booksellers and publishers - of a postcard of the German Hindenburg airship, which frequently made the transatlantic trip between Germany and New Jersey, USA.

It's an interesting card in and of itself, and on the back contains the simple message: 'From: Len Deighton". But why is it there and what marketing purpose did it have?

Well, I've recently had clarification from James Pepper, the US antiquarian bookseller and friend of Len Deighton, who advised:
"The original of the postcard is in my personal collection, and for fun and in friendship, knowing that Len was keenly interested in that period of Germany and in airships, I had my printer in the 1980s make an exact facsimile of the front of the postcard, and then had the verso blank except for Len's name. I presented Len with a whole box of them as a gift and he was delighted with them. Since back then Len had especially tiny handwriting, I told him he could use them to write notes to fans or friends, or give them away to people. I see that they have appeared out into the world, so perhaps Len gave some to his publisher or the publisher’s publicist and they got distributed that way."
This lagniappe has become much sought after and reasonably rare, much like other ephemera associated with Len Deighton's works.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Further on the trail of Funeral in Berlin .....

A recent post highlighted a rare discovery of a Funeral in Berlin paperback release press kit from Penguin (posts passim).  Today I met up with Caroline Maddison, one of the trustees of the Penguin Collectors Society, who is writing an article for the society's magazine on the press junket and the impact it had on the company and the book.

The full story will be linked to here when completed, but in chatting to Caroline it's clear that Penguin effectively bet the house on the success of the paperback of Funeral in Berlin, judging by the scale of the expenditure and the enormity of the marketing programme.

Tony Godwin was appointed as fiction editor of Penguin to boost the brand, which was coming under pressure from companies like Pan. He was to invigorate Penguin - not just the covers, but the marketing too. One of this first ideas - hire two planes to take journalists, reps and booksellers over to Berlin and see the city and film being made, having been met on the tarmac by none other than Harry Palmer himself, Michael Caine.

The stunt cost the company £15,000 - a massive sum at the time - but it undoubtedly helped sales to associated the paperback with the new film and the brand already building behind Len Deighton's name on the shelves.

As well as the press kit featured already on the Deighton Dossier website, Caroline shared with me other ephemera from this whole press event which gives a guide to the push behind the book and the cachet associated with both the film and Michael Caine, at the height of the 'sixties spy thriller trend.

Check the photos out below: