Book And Magazine Collector RIP; Or, Long Live CAMBO.

The closure of Book and Magazine Collector sends a terrible message about book collecting; all the more so as it is false news. The magazine was not, in fact, making a loss, and it could have made a lot more profit it had not been tied into an expensive print deal with the owners, Warners. The loss of our last remaining ‘old book’ magazine suggests that there is no market for a magazine catering to book collectors in the UK. This is not true. It may well be true that BMC was looking tired and had failed to move with the times but that is all.

Straight from the props department and everyone's idea of what an old book should look like.

I am sure that another magazine will appear and take its place. After all, book mags come and go, as this month’s book shows. The History of the Works of the Learned. Or, An Impartial Account of Books Lately Printed in all Parts of Europe was the first ever magazine about books. This copy is bound in workman-like parchment over card boards, and looks like a scholar’s copy rather than a work bound for a wealthy man’s library. It was published by Rhodes in London and ran in 12 parts a year between 1699 and 1708.

The Campaign For Real Books is the latest in a long line of ventures designed to spread the word about paper books and to support booksellers and readers. Three hundred years on the enemy is not ignorance or the difficulty of disseminating information; quite the opposite. Humans have become so clever we have found a way to do away with books completely and replace them with ebooks. But is this really such a clever idea?

There are many arguments against ebooks and from our point of view a big concern is their effect on the collecting habits of future generations. If people are not exposed to real books then they will not have a cultural or emotional tie to them and will find no reason to collect them later in life. These wonderful machines (for paper books are machines, they have moving parts) that have carried us through a millennium of development might vanish in the decade ahead.

Well, not if I can help it. I formed Cambo to help independent bookshops stay open. I also intend to speak out against ebooks, to promote paper books and to sponsor book fairs and other literary events. In the future we may even publish paper books ourselves. The main thing is to make sure that paper books are not sidelined by huge media concerns and that the book-buying public are not bulldozed into thinking that ebooks are a better choice.

Cambo card

Accepted by good bookshops everywhere, and you can also use it online.

Cambo members get 10% discount from participating bookshops whenever they spend over £10. There are 125 at the time of writing, selling both old and new books, with more joining us each day. They are all independent sellers, all passionately believe in paper books and all deserve your support. What’s more Cambo is thinking big: in time our newsletter could well become a magazine catering to the needs of book collectors as well as our cousins who prefer new books. Certainly, it will always contain news and articles aimed at collectors. Whether it starts as a few pages or a full size colour magazine depends entirely on how many members we recruit. Our fighting fund will come directly from those £15 subscriptions and the more members we have the more good we can do. That is why I urge readers to sign up today, not just for the discount in your favourite shops but also to be part of a strong, visible and voluble group working to protect, preserve and promote paper books and book shops. Books are the single most important invention in human history and their continued existence is worth fighting for. It has fallen to our generation to make sure they survive, so join Cambo today and make a difference.

Now that I am a company director(!) I may not have time for as much writing but I will do my best to put up an article a month in the new year. That’s it for 2010, however. Thank you very much for reading and please do join Cambo – it’s a great Christmas present for yourself, you family and your friends…

6 Responses to “Book And Magazine Collector RIP; Or, Long Live CAMBO.”

  1. N.Saunders says:

    I broadly agree with your comments on the demise of ‘Book and Magazine Collector’,it is not the state of the book trade that leed to its inevitable fall but its patrionising,infantile narrative,and deadly dull features.I don’t know anyone in the trade who bothered to read the thing and good-riddance.
    I support your Campaign.Good Luck.

  2. R.M.Healey says:

    I agree that the demise of BMC is a sad comment on the state of book collecting. I was a frequent contributor to the magazine from 1995 to around 2006 and among my contributions were 32 interviews with celebrity book collectors. I went on to write features ( including many more celeb interviews ) for the rival Rare Book Review, which in December 2009 also folded. There is now no magazine that caters for thousands of collectors–which to me is almost incredible.
    Equally unbelievable is the fact that no publisher has come forward to resurrect one ( or even both ) of these titles, when it is obvious to anyone with any knowledge of the book trade that there is an audience out there.
    Perhaps the future is with online publishing—but in the 28 months since Rare Book Review closed, why has no-one tried to establish an online version ?

  3. Michael Sharpe says:

    My family and I lived in Hay-on-Wye in 2001 and 2002 and I first became acquainted with the Book and Magazine Collector which was actually sold on at least on of the local news agents in Hay. I was just going through my rather small collection of them today and thought I would look at a website which just had to have been developed since my residency there. I am very disappointed and can only hope that some intrepid soul might try to bring it back to life.

  4. Robert says:

    Just came across this site announcing that BMC is to stop. Although this is sad news I use to buy BMC but stopped as it became too expensive. All the same it is sad to see it go.

  5. Diana Pollen says:

    Oh, that is TERRIBLE news. I never bought the Book & Magazine Collector on a particularly regular basis, but over the decades found it invaluable for articles (which I personally did NOT find patronising) on various authors – where else would I have been able to find details of H. P. Lovecraft’s work, etc??? It was also incredibly useful in sourcing unusual books (Ginger Nutts Magic Circus, for one!) and giving details of where and when various Book Fairs were being held. What an awful shame.

  6. Gary says:

    I was flicking through the last issue of BMC over Christmas and reading the final editorial made me feel sad all over again. I bought virtually every issue from 2001 to about 2005 but then I felt the magazine went downhill and I only bought it sporadically from then onwards. It became too repetitive and featured the same authors over and over again – J K Rowling, Ian Fleming, J R R Tolkien, Agatha Christie etc. Still, I would rather that than it not being around any more.

Leave a Comment