Saturday, May 12, 2007

Christian Aid Book Sale, Edinburgh

(My thanks to Jeremy Briggs for the following report on the Christian Aid Book Sale in Edinburgh. Looks fantastic.)


London may have the ABC Show for Steve to visit, while others may have decamped to Bristol this weekend for the Comics Expo, but for those of us further north, Edinburgh has the annual Christian Aid Book Sale which takes place at St Andrews and St Georges church on George Street in the city centre. Perhaps "at" is not the best description -- "in, around, under, behind, and next door to" might be a better description of this huge charity book sale which has raised over £1 million in the many years that it has been running.

They normally have a publicity push beforehand to entice the media. Last year it was a script of the Doctor Who episode New Earth signed by David Tennant and Billie Piper, not so surprising once you know that Tennant's father had previously been a minister at the church. It sold for over £3000. This year the media tie-in was to the Kidnapped graphic novel which was produced earlier in the year as part of the drive to get Edinburgh residents all reading the same story as part of the UNESCO City Of Literature project. Alan Grant, who adapted Robert Louis Stevenson's original novel into the graphic format, and James Robertson, who then translated Grant's words into the Scots dialect for the Kidnappit version of it, publicised the event -- with Grant being promoted to Judge Dredd's creator in the advance publicity. Grant donated signed Psi-Judge Anderson scripts to the sale which were priced at £20 each.

Yet for all the hype about a few specific items or people beforehand, the event is really about the tens of thousands of books for sale, most of which range from 50p to a few pounds. For all the fact that it is advertised as a book sale there are also pictures, CDs, vinyl, toys, jigsaws, games and assorted collectables for sale as well. This year, for the first time that I can remember, it was raining on the Saturday and so the sale, which would normally have at least half its stock outside, had to crush its books into the church and the covered car park of the next door office building.

As with any sale this kind what you find of interest can be a hit or miss affair but with a large children's section divided off from the rest of the stock, comics annuals were much in evidence with many Beano, Dandy, Oor Wullie and Broons books followed by lots of girls titles such as Bunty, Debbie, Mandy and Sally. This year IPC humour annuals and all boys annuals were noticeably lacking, although they did have a larger than normal select of Commandos and Picture Library titles. Asterix and Tintin inevitably headed the charge of the bandes dessinees, although another one to turn up was The Aeronauts annual from 1973 which reprints a 'Tanguy et Laverdure' story and was mentioned here last month when Steve was looking for details on 'The Flying Furies' strip. My bargain of the day was the 1949 Hotspur Book with its Iron Teacher cover for a mere 50p, not in great condition but a more than readable copy of the last of the original annuals for the story paper version of Hotspur.

Perhaps the most unique point of this sale is the fact that it lasts for a week. The opening Saturday may be the most popular with the punters, but the sale reopens on Monday and continues through to Friday afternoon. Due to the sheer volume of books that were not put out because of the rain I would expect that the rest of the week, if it gets a little drier, will turn up some more interesting items before the sale finally winds up on Friday afternoon.

As a final point it is worth noting that the Edinburgh United church at Holy Corner in Edinburgh’s Morningside also has a Christian Aid book sale in its church hall. It may not be as large, but it is all undercover and it also lasts for the entire week.

1 comment:

  1. Aberdonians please note that there's a similar sale at Queens Cross Church Hall until Saturday 19th May. Well worth a browse.

    David Simpson



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