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Folios in secondhand shops

Folio Society devotees

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Mar 15, 2012, 9:41am Top

Almost all second hand stores I go into have a shelf of battered and unloved Folios.

How do they get so battered? Folio buyers are normally careful book loving folk.

Mar 15, 2012, 12:03pm Top

Consider yourself lucky. Here in Austin, Texas you're lucky to find two or three Folios (and invariably they are from at least 25 years ago--The Black Prince anyone? Anyone? I thought not). I'd love to peruse a whole shelf of battered and unloved Folios.

Edited: Mar 15, 2012, 1:51pm Top

>2 podaniel:
podaniel, if you're in Dallas, try the Half Price Books at 5803 E. Northwest Highway, just east of Hwy 75/Central Expressway. They have a collectibles department with a section for FS and Heritage Club books. There's usually 20 or so FS books, some older some newer, and usually in pretty good shape. Happy hunting.


Mar 15, 2012, 1:51pm Top

I live in small town USA, and would be very happy just to have a bookstore :(

Mar 15, 2012, 2:01pm Top

I live in small norwegian town (30,000 inhabitants) and there is 5-6 bookstores around here but no second hand stores anymore. I have seen 1 Folio book here in total, and it was missing its slipcase. I was so surprised that I bought it anyway.

Mar 15, 2012, 2:28pm Top

I've found a copy of The Reign of Nero in a second-hand bookstore in Granada. Probably sold or left behind by a British expatriate!

Mar 15, 2012, 2:47pm Top

>1 charleseugenebongo2: Folio buyers are normally careful book loving folk.

Folio buyers and Folio owners are not always the same people...

Mar 15, 2012, 4:53pm Top

I visited last month an English tea-room in Grenoble, where they have some 2nd-hand books for sale. (I discovered the 3 volumes of Bryant's biography on Pepys which probably had been awaiting me for many months. I couldn't resist.) But they had no Folio. When I asked if they had some occasionally, the guy told me: ‘Folio? What's that?’ Glurp.

Mar 15, 2012, 5:06pm Top

>3 Osbaldistone:

Thanks for the tip Os--I'll try that. Although it requires a trip to (shudder) Dallas.

Mar 15, 2012, 6:06pm Top

>1 charleseugenebongo2:

Don't forget all the threads on this group about damaged shipments. If these books aren't returned, they're often sold to secondhand stores if not given away. Or if given away, maybe the giftees sold them. I've found several copies of Folio volumes at secondhand stores around here with bumped corners that are otherwise pristine. Those are only the newer ones. The older ones are usually well-damaged, as are Heritage and LEC copies. The pristine copies get placed in the glass cases. One store around here is selling the Folio version of Faust for $100. (The 2005 version with quarter leather, if there's another version).

Mar 15, 2012, 10:52pm Top

> 10

I expect you're right in saying that some Folios, battered and wounded in the great white bag, end up in secondhand outlets. Many of the rejected Folios I see (and they are fairly plentiful here in the UK) are definitely of the unloved variety bemoaned by charleseugenebongo2. Now, I'm quite sure that all Folio Society Devotees worthy of the name treat their Folios with every care and due reverence (the occasional drenching in coffee notwithstanding). Indeed, some here have admitted to keeping them in their shrinkwrap for years at a time. Naturally, my own are as new and appear unread. (Actually, a few of them are unread, but I know you can keep a secret.) There are people out there, however, who are apparently incapable of telling the difference between a high quality Folio and a frisbee. Judging by the appearance of many of the secondhand Folios I see, their previous owners have used them as

(a) plates
(b) coasters
(c) doormats
(d) door stops
(e) steps (usually boxed sets)
(f) frisbees.

Here, a non-devotee practises before taking his book to the secondhand store:


His son, who wants to be a postal worker, engages in some early training:


Edited: Mar 16, 2012, 1:07am Top

>11 boldface: Boldface
The point of the first video totally escapes me. Why would anyone bother to video such a mindless act? A syndrome called cranial vacuosity springs to mind.

Mar 16, 2012, 1:51am Top

Speaking of 2nd hand bookshops, this weekend is the local Lifeline Bookfair, a massive 2nd booksale for a charity - they have a special room for collectables, including a table of FS books. I picked up a pristine Cicero - On the Good Life for $A20 and a very good copy of the Merchant of Venice (1975) for $A12. Very nice! Most of the FS books on sale were in very good condition or better, especially recent volumes. Many are without slipcases though.

Mar 16, 2012, 2:48am Top

>9 podaniel:
I know what you mean about Dallas. I left there 30 years ago, and miss nothing about it. But, I have family there, within walking distance of that Half Price Books store, so I have two reasons to go back once in awhile. I wouldn't recommend the trip just for the store (unless you're not too far away).


Mar 16, 2012, 7:24am Top

OK gang I'l consider myself lucky. I have two secondhand bookshops within walking distance ( and I never walk far ) plus the largest second hand book shop in the UK ( or at least that is how it bills itself ) a bus ride away in Rochester ( Kent - UK ).

Edited: Mar 16, 2012, 7:45am Top

>11 boldface:

That first clip is capitivating, eloquent, playfully sensual yet violent by association - you only see boots, but so much personality - a candidate for the Turner prize.

Mar 16, 2012, 12:06pm Top

>11 boldface:
Actually, Ben is not very good at destroying a book. Isn't that the FS edition of The Big Book of Things to Spot? ;-)


Mar 16, 2012, 2:57pm Top

> 12 "Why would anyone bother to video such a mindless act?"

I'm afraid the internet is choked with people who think their mindless trivia will secure their 15 minutes of fame. As leonb intimates, one man's mindless act is another man's Turner Prize.

> 17

Well, he's only a beginner.

Mar 16, 2012, 6:01pm Top

>16 leonb:,18
But the Turner Prize is for contemporary art, not videos depicting book torture. As for the 15 minutes of fame, you see nothing of the protagonist above his (her?) knees. As I said - cranial vacuosity syndrome.

Mar 16, 2012, 6:30pm Top

What some people call contemporary art is open to interpretation...

Mar 16, 2012, 8:50pm Top

> 19

you see nothing of the protagonist above his (her?) knees

I think you mean its knees...

Mar 19, 2012, 3:41pm Top

> 19

you see nothing of the protagonist above his (her?) knees

I think you mean antagonist...

Mar 21, 2012, 3:49pm Top

I have found second-hand Folio prices to be very inconsistent. Blackwell's in Oxford don't get many second hand Folio's but when they do the price is great (I got the entire Gibbon Decline and Fall for £28, fine cond.).


Just around the corner from Blackwells in Oxford is another place called Scriptum which also sells used Folio Society books. I was in there at lunchtime today and they have the recent 'Dracula' for the strange price of £37 when you can get it brand new off the FS website for £29.95. D'oh!

Mar 21, 2012, 5:34pm Top

I live in Canada and I've never seen Folio books for sale anywhere ever (hence why I only discovered FS recently!), though I'm sure there's some obscure second-hand shop in Toronto or other that sells them that I'm unaware of.

Mar 23, 2012, 4:40pm Top

Russells Books in Victoria, BC sells huge numbers of Folio Titles secondhand, ViscountChic, but sorry that is no where near Toronto. And they are not the cheap prices that the other members are quoting. I bought English Myths there for over $60 (cannot remember the exact price).

Mar 23, 2012, 6:00pm Top

If you're in Toronto and visit secondhand bookshops, I'm surprised at your experience. I've never been in one that didn't have at least a few Folios knocking about. BMV on Bloor and Spadina has 3-4 bookcases with Folios, Eastons, Franklins, Heritage Press etc. on the third floor.

Incidentally, Torontonians, if anyone's interested, when I was there a few days ago they had the 2003 Arabian Nights set in store, priced at $125. I've never seen it before so I looked at a few volumes. Huge tomes, two boxes.

Eliot's on Yonge and Wellesley has at least 20-30 Folios, possibly more, I haven't been upstairs in a long time.

ABC Books on Yonge (north from Eliot's) had a shelf of Folios, some shrinkwrapped (last time I've been).

BMV on on Edward off Yonge has Folios. Ten Editions has them. She Said Boom has them. Seekers Books has them. As I said, I've yet to run across a secondhand without Folios.

Mar 23, 2012, 6:33pm Top

Note to self; emigrate to Canada. I've peroused many a secondhand book shop in my part of Australia and I've never once seen a Folio. Blessed be the internet.

Mar 23, 2012, 6:37pm Top

Canada--well, Toronto at least--is great for all things British.

Mar 23, 2012, 7:31pm Top

26 > Thanks for all those links. I'm visiting Toronto soon and I'll be sure to check out some of those shops, I really had no idea!

Mar 23, 2012, 10:41pm Top

>27 letterpress:


I've got a couple of FS titles from here. Worth a day trip.

Mar 23, 2012, 11:06pm Top

>27 letterpress:
I also have never seen any in the ones I've been to, though I expect there might be a few in bookshops in some of the richer areas of Sydney that I've never been to.

Mar 24, 2012, 12:32am Top

>30 SimB:

Thanks for the tip! I almost took up permanent residency at Berkelouw on Norton Street when I lived at Leichhardt, but it's been years since I took a trip to the the Southern Highlands. Berrima in autumn, I think I need a weekend away. And, johni92, it certainly fits the financial demographic ;)

Mar 24, 2012, 12:39am Top

>30 SimB:
Thanks. I have plenty of friends living out Campbelltown/Appin way. I might have to go for a road trip with them out there one day.

Mar 24, 2012, 6:17am Top

>32 letterpress:
and if you continue down the highway to Canberra there are several bookshops here with large numbers of FS books - unfortunately none of the ones I am looking for!

Mar 24, 2012, 6:57am Top

>34 rdurie:
What 2nd hand bookshops would you recommend in Canberra? I'll be up there the week after next for a conference, and could take a few hours off for some "personal research"

Mar 24, 2012, 7:10am Top

>32 letterpress:

I moved from Sydney 20 years ago, lived for a while in Annandale, loved Norton St for the food.....memories...

Mar 24, 2012, 8:02am Top

>27 letterpress:
There's a second hand book store in Crows Nest on the Pacific Highway, just north of Shirley Road, which has quite a few Folio books. I picked up a copy of Mission to Tashkent from there on a recent holiday to Sydney.

Mar 24, 2012, 9:07pm Top

> 36

I hear you. I moved out of the city about 6 years ago now after a few years in Leichhardt and Marrickville. I love the peace and quiet down here but I really miss all the amazing food just minutes away. But the budget's healthier. I used to study at a college down at Circular Quay, and rather than risk the cattle crush that is Wynyard station at peak hour, I'd walk up to Central. Past two Dymocks, Angus & Robertson, then onto Pitt St to Elizabeths. Lethal.

Mar 25, 2012, 6:03am Top

Beyond Q at Curtin shops and Alexander Fax, Mawson shops. I've been to both recently and they have good FS stock.

Mar 25, 2012, 12:27pm Top

Hmmm... I live in Toronto and just assumed that most places would have tons of folios. Perhaps I should buy everything I find and go start a bookstore in a small town known for hermitage?

Mar 25, 2012, 12:46pm Top

Enlarging on the second-hand book found in Granada (see post # 6 above), the copy displays a stamp proclaiming its previous owner as a Dr Michael Broomhall. This gentleman was apparently involved in some center for academic studies in Benalmádena, Málaga. The book displays the legend 'Printed for members only' as it was customary for presentation volumes. This was for 1952. By the way, I thought I was going to see some sordid illustrations (!), but Eric Fraser's work is pretty tame in subject matter although beautifully executed. Thus, slowly, I'm expanding my collection of old Folios.

Mar 25, 2012, 8:52pm Top

> 41 I thought I was going to see some sordid illustrations (!)

Sorry, Antonio, I think it was I who raised your hopes (in the Folio Best Sellers thread), tho' my description was "lurid" rather than "sordid"! Tame they may be by 21stC standards, but in early 1950s' Britain some of the illustrations, such as this one:

would have made some FS subscribers store the book on a high shelf out of reach of their "young sons, young daughters, even their wives and servants" (to paraphrase prosecuting counsel's list of corruptible innocents at the Lady Chatterley trial).

Fraser's work was powerful and as you say, beautifully executed. The gold and black binding is attractive, too. For those who haven't seen it, there is a picture at http://www.flickr.com/photos/62235807@N02/6869138432/

Mar 26, 2012, 12:34am Top

I just discovered Bart's Books in Ojai, California. It's a wonderfully quirky little bookstore (most of it is outdoors in an open courtyard) with an interesting selection of books. I found quite a few FS books at very reasonable prices. Picked up John Fothergill's An Innkeeper's Diary in fine condition for $10.

Mar 26, 2012, 9:15am Top

> 42

Yes, featherwate, you are the 'guilty' party behind my search for the lurid (as you said, indeed) and the sordid (as I mentally transformed) details behind Nero's reign. I don't believe there's any lack of either (moral degradation and shock) in the account. The illustrations are fantastic, perhaps a larger size would have been indicated to really disturb readers at the time of FS publication. I'm fascinated by this interest in Roman life and history. Pliny (Plinio in Spanish), Tacitus and the never-ending controversy on Gibbon's footnotes... Thank you for steering me in the right direction.

Mar 27, 2015, 11:07pm Top

Bump! I was recently in the Greater Toronto Area, so naturally I had to visit as many secondhand shops that I could. (Thank you >26 LolaWalser: for info on where to look).

Unfortunately, I was only able to visit BMV, AND left empty handed, but I wanted to share a photo I took of their Folio shelf. Apparently, someone sold their collection recently, but those were quickly snatched up. I was tempted for the Jane Austen sent $125 CDN and Barchester Towers for $20 CDN, the latter being more affordable for my small budget, but wasn't happy with a defect in the slipcase nor a scuff in the spine.

If anyone is interested in a larger quality version where you may be able to read spines, please pm me with your address. LT downgrades too much.

Mar 28, 2015, 9:25am Top

I live in NYC and the only bookstore I know that sells second-hand Folios is called Strand. Unfortunately, you can almost always find the books they are selling for much less on Amazon. If anyone lives in NYC and knows where I can satiate my need for Folio, Easton, Franklin etc. at a lower/ reasonable price I would be very grateful

Apr 9, 2015, 2:29am Top

Half-Price Books in Dallas, TX, on Northwest Highway (near Hwy 75) has a section with FS as well as Heritage Press and other slipcased publications. When I first discovered this about 3 years ago, they had at least 100 FS editions, but the last two times I was there (January of this year was the last time), there were perhaps 20-30. Perhaps they had received a large collection before I first discovered them, and have not received enough since to keep the selection up. But, it's still worth stopping in if you're in the area.


Apr 9, 2015, 10:43am Top

>45 eatanygoodbooks:

Thanks for the mention and glad to have been of service, even if, sadly, you didn't find anything to suit you! That's a very well filled Folio section--I haven't been there in a while and don't recall seeing anything like that recently.

I've donated about a dozen Folios to the public library but I suppose those will appear in the big fall sale later this year. They are usually priced under ten dollars a volume (in some cases well below).

With bookshops melting out of business at the speed of Frosty the Snowman in June, it's really difficult to guarantee a haul on a single trip to any one given destination. But if you lived in the city, a regular tour of what little remains of the secondhand business would likely result in quite a few finds on a weekly/monthly basis.

Edited: Apr 9, 2015, 12:58pm Top

>48 LolaWalser:

I used to live in the area and frequented the Bloor location... I once went there and had to order a cab to get home because I couldn't carry all the books to the subway. I've purchased 95 titles (97 vol) from those shelves, about 15 folios but a lot of FLs.

Apr 9, 2015, 1:06pm Top

>49 EclecticIndulgence:

I think I might have said this before (yawn!), but I once had to buy a suitcase in order to get a very large heavy book home.

Apr 9, 2015, 2:09pm Top

>50 boldface:

You have, but the reminder is a good one... will keep this in the back of my mind for my next beautifully illogical, grandiose splurge! :)

(I regret nothing)

Apr 18, 2015, 12:06am Top

>1 charleseugenebongo2: I've seen a few coffee-spattered folios, one or two smoke-smelling books, sometimes ones with bent page corners (some where the book was clearly dropped when open), the odd one with deformed spines (from stacking spine up with other books on top) and some with slipcases broken but very few of the secondhand folios I've looked at (and that's a LOT) have shown much more damage than the usual processes of time. In many cases I've been astonished at just how undamaged they are; I've bought plenty of secondhand folios that, other than some light shelf marks on the slipcases, you could pass off as new.

Apr 19, 2015, 12:43am Top

Sadly, I wonder how many are actually being read.

Apr 19, 2015, 1:36am Top

I found a great stash of FS books in a lovely shop called Scriptum, on the Turl in Oxford; they are upstairs and a mixture of new and second-hand. The cheapest one I could find was £12.50, In the Beginning, by Norman Douglas. I would have bought it had the dust jacket not been badly torn.

Edited: Apr 19, 2015, 3:54am Top

>53 Forthwith: I imagine quite a number of second-hand folios are unread; you certainly find a reasonable number still sealed in plastic (I've bought at least four that were still sealed, and a copy of The Leopard that I bought for £2 still had uncracked bindings!). The majority of the secondhand folios I've seen show signs that they have been read though, mostly just the slight deformation of the spine or little creases from turning the pages.

I am hesitant to comment too much on that though given that I've yet to read at least 75% of the folios I own... although that ratio is better than for my New Naturalists!

"At normal atmospheric pressure (sea level to 1000ft above sea level) it can be shown that the rate of acquisition is greater than the rate of reading, such that:


where a=books acquired and r=books read

however this formula breaks down where proximity to 44 Eagle St occurs, such that I believe we can instead propose (if my hazy maths is correct):


where f is proximity to 44 Eagle St."

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