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April 06, 2010

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"I can heat it, boy."

That's quite chilling, no pun intended. I've never read or seen 'King John', and must rectify this. Beautiful cover.

I'd never heard of Skoob, and they look very promising. There are barely any second-hand bookshops left in my part of the world, except for those tiny Lions Club book exchanges full of Agatha Christie, Dan Brown, John Grisham and used pornographic magazines. I miss browsing them (the old, vanished shops, not the pornographic magazines).

Hello, James. Sorry not to reply earlier - been off in the sticks, out of range of the internet. I'm glad you like the King John. There's a rather good piece on Gentleman - largely transcripts of a lecture he gave - at http://www.creativereview.co.uk/cr-blog/2009/october/penguin-by-illustrators.

King John was, so the introduction to my copy says, very popular with the Victorians, because of the opportunities for pageantry; but has fallen out of favour. I was going to say that it doesn't get staged much, but on investigation I find that the RSC put it on in 1989, 2001 and 2006, so I have very little excuse for not having seen it.

Skoob used to be notorious for their high prices, but seem to have got more competitive (or careless); and they have a good turnover - I'll almost always find something new of interest in there; but their turnover is not so fast that you have to scoop everything up, for fear it won't be there next time. This is what I want from a secondhand bookshop. On the downside, their stock can be scruffy - I rarely get anything in mint condition there; and their website is a bit rubbish, so of limited use from your point of view (you can always ask me to look for stuff, though).

But in general, the secondhand book scene in London is in decline; shops can no longer afford the rent, and migrate online. I miss them too.

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