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Quo Vadis, David & Charles?


GWRSwindon
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It's something of a small tragedy that so many excellent books on Britain's railway history have been out of print for so long. One of the first publishing companies that come to mind is David & Charles. Their Regional History and their histories of individual companies were quite good, and are certainly deserving of a reprint. 

 

Is it known who currently holds the rights to David & Charles' catalogue?

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David & Charles? Still going.

 

https://davidandcharles.com/product-category/transport/

 

Shop around though. They are normally cheap as chips. 

 

I think they might have been badly effected when Book Clubs were stopped from having compulsory purchases as ISTR they mostly sold books through The Railway Book Club which I think they had some connection with.

 

Book clubs at the time you got an introductory offer and then had to buy a certain amount of books a year. ISTR the Office of Fair Trading stopped this practice. They died out soon after, probably due to competition from retailers like Amazon.

 

You probably remember the adverts in the back of magazines. 4 Books from 50P each.  Then you had to buy at least one a quarter.

 

Fine if there was stuff you wanted, but often there wasn't. But you still had to buy something or they sent the "editors choice" that was expensive. Didn't want it? Tough. They still billed you and if you refused to pay they were very quick starting legal proceedings.

 

 

 

Jason

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There has been a complicated history and I can see little connection between the original company and the current one which concentrates mainly on "lifestyle" books. See the Wikipedia entry. The railway books listed appear to be second-hand (one is listed twice with different prices).

I was under the impression that D&C sold its railway publishing business to another publisher of railway books - of course I can't now remember which company. At that time I seem to remember that D&C was stated to be concentrating on its Masonic publishing. They may well have long had a "lifestyle" publishing activity but I wouldn't have noticed.

And yes, some very good books over the years. Especially the Regional Histories and histories of companies such as the Severn & Wye, S&D, Cambrian; also the Forgotten Railways series. And a number of books about the GWR.

Can anyone confirm whether I am talking rubbish?

Jonathan

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I don't know whether they have sold the rest of the railway books on, but those railway books are new books.

 

If you are wondering about the two prices, one is hardback and the other softback. You can find them in places like The Works for much less, that's why I said shop around.

 

They also used to publish a lot of what were known as BCA Edition books for the book clubs. Things like craft and cookery books. As well as reprints of classic books. If you weren't in any of the clubs you probably didn't notice them.

 

So whilst it's no longer the same company, they are still publishing the same type of things as they did.

 

 

Jason

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1 hour ago, corneliuslundie said:

I was under the impression that D&C sold its railway publishing business to another publisher of railway books - of course I can't now remember which company. At that time I seem to remember that D&C was stated to be concentrating on its Masonic publishing.

 

Wasn't that Ian Allan?

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"Wasn't that Ian Allan?"

I knew about them. But I had a feeling that the same had happened with D&C. But in the latter bit of my post about publishing Masonic titles I might well be confusing the two at that point. My apologies. (yes, confirmed below that it was Ian Allan).

The books listed seem to have been published in 2014 and have modern style ISBNs. I can't offhand work out where the company was in its various  transmogrifications at that date. But they were originally published much longer ago than that (The LMS wagon in the 1970s as I have a copy).

Let's hope that they reprint some more of their classic titles.

Anyway, you seem to have answered the OP's question.

Jonathan

Edited by corneliuslundie
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The "new" David & Charles was taken over by Readers Digest ..The railway titles I cannot remember where they went..I feel the rights to most of the railway titles remained with David St John Thomas ..He moved to Nairn in Scotland after sale of D&C and lived there till his death about 5 years ago...Died in fact on a cruise in the Baltic Sea.

 

Back to the books..He remained a publisher in particular of rail books...Unable to quote which ones.

 

Trouble with him,was his publishing was in large part tied to Book Club sales...Too many of mid range pot boilers..Remember the SR/LNER 150's etc?.Market place was absolutely flooded.Still can buy them at a £1 a book in mint condition.

 

 

Edited by xavier1906
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Referring to the '150' and, by implication 'Great Days', series as potboilers is a little harsh I find. Although I mainly follow the good old Deutsche Bundesbahn in N, I still have a reasonable collection of U.K. themed books. I personally found the D&C books to be very well put together.

 

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On 11/06/2021 at 14:09, Welchester said:

 

Wasn't that Ian Allan?

Ian Allan was into masonic publishing yes. It sold its railway publishing catalogue to Crecy several years ago. Crecy are based out by Manchester Airport these days

 

Simon

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4 hours ago, dick rowland said:

Referring to the '150' and, by implication 'Great Days', series as potboilers is a little harsh I find. Although I mainly follow the good old Deutsche Bundesbahn in N, I still have a reasonable collection of U.K. themed books. I personally found the D&C books to be very well put together.

 

 

The problem is they are all reprints. Some are pretty poorly done, poorly reproduced photos, rubbish paper and repackaged for the "coffee table book" market.

 

Have a look in the bargain book shops like The Works for evidence.

 

 

Not one of D&Cs, but have you seen what somebody did to the Robert Adley books?

 

Book about the end of British steam in the 1960s. Lots of photos of British steam.

 

So why this cover?

 

spacer.png

 

 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Call-Steam-Robert-Adley/dp/0753728664#:~:text=In The Call of Steam%2C Robert Adley tells,tales%2C plus anecdotes and authentic facts and data.

 

 

Jason

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6 minutes ago, pete_mcfarlane said:

That was probably the first photo that came up when they searched for 'steam train' on the Stock photo web site.

 

Yes. But why not use a photo from the book that would be copyright free as you own the rights? It's full of them. Many of which were sold as postcards.

 

It's a genuine book in store.

 

This is the original cover.

 

spacer.png

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Funnily enough this just popped up when looking for that. This is what was meant by the 150th anniversary books. They did one for the other three Big Four companies as well.

 

https://www.whsmith.co.uk/products/great-western-railway-150-glorious-years-new-edition/patrick-whitehouse/david-stjohn-thomas/paperback/9780715387634.html?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIi7S3utij8QIVgvdRCh1zow8rEAQYAiABEgLIAvD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds

 

 

Reasonable book. But it's nearly forty years out of date as much of it was about GWR 150. I bet it hasn't got the big fold out map at the back anymore.

 

 

Jason

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Is yours the original version though? I have no problem with those. I've got them myself.

 

 

it's the dozen or so poor quality reprints that are currently in bargain book shops through out the UK. Most of them printed on little better than newspaper costing about £3 to £5.

 

If you think that poor quality books are fine, that's your choice, but these are going to end up as some poor souls Christmas or Birthday present. It's certainly not a great way to commemorate the work of the writers.

 

 

 

Next time you are passing The Works have a look at them. Usually next to the rubbish history books about Anne Boleyn and books by Jeremy Clarkson.

 

They don't even put them on the online shop.

 

https://www.theworks.co.uk/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIwLjTxOyj8QIVRZnVCh2FqADzEAAYASAAEgJfovD_BwE

 

 

Jason

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