Sunday, 14 January 2018


Yesterday I went to see the brilliant new film about Churchill, The Darkest Hour, Like the stage play, Three Days in May, which covers the same early days of Churchill's premiership, they both indicate that Chamberlain saved Churchill's career when he could so easily have been ousted by a vote of no confidence.

The film does not prevaricate about how much Churchill was disliked and mistrusted, not least by the King, and one of the charges that is held against him is the Gallipoli campaign of the First World War. In the film Churchill (briefly) defends his role in proposing the Gallipoli and Dardanelles campaign.

I first read Alan Moorehead's brillianat Gallipoli when I was a schoolboy in the 1960s so was very pleased to have the opportunity to publish the large print edition when it was reissued with an introduction by Sir Max Hastings to coincide with the centenary of the campaign. 

What Moorehead, regarded as probably the best war correspondent of the second world war, established was that, despite the appalling military errors associated with the campaign, it so nearly succeeded. The Turks were convinced the British navy were about to succeed in breaking through that Consantinople was twice evacuated.

Part of the genius of TE Lawrence was that he understood the importance of intelligence and had sources deep behind enemy lines feeding back vital information. Such intelligence on the Gallipoli peninsular might have changed the course of the war.

Gallipoli is seen as a great Churchill failure but not many people know that at the time of the Armistice in 1918 a new assault on the Dardanelles was being planned by the Royal Navy.

We have both hardback and paperback editions of Alan Moorehead's Gallipoli available here.

Incidentally, the night before seeing The Darkest Hour, I watched a DVD of the film Dunkirk and was greatly disappointed: The Darkest Hour gives a much better account of what the mass evacuation and military disaster entailed.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Amazon Fulfilment for Books and the long tail

In 2013 we shipped our entire stock from our warehouse to various Amazon warehouses around the UK and since then they have undertaken our fulfilment.
This has worked very well for us, and we have no complaints.

Recently, Amazon have decided to charge storage fees for slow moving stock. Some of our stock is very slow moving - that is the very nature of "the long tail" and I cannot really complain.

However, this does give us a slight problem: we want to avoid these charges which come into effect in August, so we are going to have to accept the books back to our premises. However, we no longer have a warehouse, just a house, and my wife is not overjoyed at the prospect of having several hundred books arrive next month.

So to mitigate the problem, and keep the wife happy, we have put all the stock currently held at Amazon on sale at half price and free carriage in the UK.

All the books that are not sold in the sale will revert to full price on 14th August.

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Pearson to sell their 47% stake in Penguin Random House

When I worked for Pearson in the 1970s and 1980s it was successful and confident and a really great place to work. Its great strength was its diversification: in fact it was criticised for being, in effect, Lord Cowdray’s personal diversified portfolio, comprising amongst many other things: Chateau Latour, Royal Doulton, Madame Tussauds, Warwick Castle, the Financial Times, Westmister Press, half of The Economist and three iconic publishing imprints: Ladybird, Longman and Penguin.

Longman was at the time the largest and most profitable UK imprint. Amongst their many successful operations were English as a Foreign Language publishing, medical publishing (Churchill Livingstone), and very successful publishing operations throughout Africa and the Middle East. When there were shocks to the system, as there were when, for instance, government failure in Nigeria caused them to default on a £6 million debt, the company could weather the storm because of diversification.

I fear for the modern Pearson which has put almost all its eggs in the US education market. It has sold off the family silver: Royal Doulton, Chessington Zoo and Chateau Latour went long ago, but more recently they have sold the Financial Times, and their share of The Economist. Now they are to sell their 47% stake in the enormous Penguin Random House. Perhaps it will be in safer hands with Bertelsmann.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Louis Bernacchi: Saga of the 'Discovery'

I never knew Louis Bernacchi, my great-uncle, because he died five years before I was born, but I met his widow in 1966 when she visited my grandmother, Louis's sister, in Cambridge.

She was a formidable lady, visiting from Hong Kong with her son, Brook. It was mid-summer and a fine day and we all went to lunch at the Garden House Hotel down Mill Lane because they had a large dining room overlooking the River Cam.

When we got there the dining room was almost empty and the head waiter led us to a dark corner far away from the tables by the window. My grandmother said, "Can't we have one of those tables by the windows?". The head waiter replied, "Madam, we have people coming all the way from London to eat here!" "Well," said Mrs Bernacchi, "we've come all the way from Hong Kong." With a bad grace, the head waiter ushered us to a table in the middle of the dining room. As the first course was being served he came and said to the waiter who was doling out the soup, "Do look after our distinguished guests from overseas!" and abruptly disappeared.

(Incidentally, I went back to the Garden House for dinner about two months later as a guest of a famous London caterer. This time the obsequiousness of that same head waiter was a joy to behold.)

After lunch we walked down to the Scott Polar Research Museum in Lensfield Road, where Louis's diaries are housed. They got out a diary from his first visit to Antarctica in 1898 as a member of the Carsten Borchgrevink expedition. Brook read out at random, aloud, a very forthright entry about an altercation Louis had with Borchgrevink, ending up "well if the cap fits, let him wear it!" The truth of the matter is that this expedition was the first to realise that the six month black out of perpetual winter can have a drastic effect on personalities confined together for so long. (The expedition lasted until 1900 and was the first in which humans overwintered on the continent.)

It is because of his membership of this expedition that the Australians regard Bernacchi as the first Australian antarctic explorer because, although born in Brussels of Italian and Belgian parents, the family emigrated to Australia where his father rented the whole of Maria Island off the coast of Tasmania.

Maria Island is now an uninhabited national park and a luxury four day hike of the island culminates in a night in what was Louis's family home. (see Maria Island Walk)

Louis went to school in Hobart, where he lodged with Field Marshall Montgomery's parents. Montgomery's father was Bishop of Tasmania. (I do not know how Louis got on with the Montgomerys but Field Marshal Montgomery so hated his mother that he refused to go to her funeral.)

There is a marvellous modern statue of Louis on the harbour front at Hobart, (of him taking a self-portrait - the first selfie?), surrounded by dogs and packing crates.

Louis got back to London from Antarctica in 1900 (by that time the family had relocated to England). He published an account of his trip, To the South Polar Regions in 1901, in which he displays an astonishing ability to describe the beauty and awesomeness of this unexplored landscape.

When I first read Sara Wheeler's bestselling travel book, Terra Incognita: Travels in Antarctica I was slightly surprised to see that many of her chapter headings held quotations from Bernacchi's unpublished writing. Several years later I read that, having studied Bernacchi's diaries at the Scott Polar Research Museum, she regarded him as her favourite diarist of the heroic age.

In 1901 Louis was invited by Captain Robert Falcon Scott to join his first expedition to Antarctica on board the RSS Discovery, to replace the physicist who had to drop out due to ill health. Louis made haste to join the expedition in New Zealand. There is a bit of a mystery about this replacement referred to in this brief video of Sir Clement Markham's personal scrapbook. (Markham was the patron of the expedition who appointed Scott to lead it).

The RSS Discovery returned to the United Kingdom in 1904 and in 1906 Louis married Winifred Harris. Captain Scott was the best man at his wedding and during the reception said to him, "Well, Louis, I am looking forward to you coming on my next expedition!" Upon which his formidable bride said "He's not coming," which, under the circumstances, is perhaps just as well.

Louis's book, Saga of the 'Discovery' was published in 1938, a year before war broke out, and Louis died in London in 1942. The book sank almost without trace, and for several decades after the war there was very little interest in books about Antarctica.

In 2001 my family and I were lucky enough to be invited by Discovery Point in Dundee, where the RSS Discovery is now housed as part of a magnificent museum, open 364 days a year, to take part in the Centenary celebrations.

I decided to reissue my great-uncle's book, with the permission of his descendants, in time for the Centenary and took a lot of copies to Dundee the week before the celebrations. Selling the book was a revelation to me, because every single bookshop took stock, even the bargain bookshops. The fine academic shop James Thin, took a dozen copies and the buyer said to me, "How nice to subscribe a book that I know I am going to sell!"

The book has been reissued this year in regular and ebook editions, now with photos and maps from the original edition which, for technical reasons, we were unable to incorporate in our 2001 edition.

But the good news for our large print customers is that we have authorised ReadHowYouWant to do a large print edition which you can find on our website here.

It is a surprisingly good read: our local book group read it, not at my instigation, and I was gratified to find how many enjoyed it so much, and recommended it to friends outside the group.

Guy Garfit 

Thursday, 3 September 2015

P J Kavanagh

We are sorry to learn of the death of PJ Kavanagh aged 84 on August 26th. 

The Telegraph obituary says "his first literary success came in 1966 with The Perfect Stranger.  Ostensibly an autobiography of his first 27 years, it was informed by the presence of his wife, Sally, who had died suddenly aged only 24, at four in the morning on Midsummer's Day 1958. 'Once you've experienced the infinite significance of another person's life, you feel something of the same for all lives,' he wrote. 'The rest of my life, any sense I can make of it, is a memorial to that.' The book was not sentimental nor self-pitying but vivid, humorous and bent upon describing a world in which the one person who had seemed to make sense of it had been lost. It won the Richard Hillary Memorial Prize."

The book has been in and out of print ever since. In 2009 The Observer wrote "this wonderful memoir is sadly out of print, but it's a great love story, a rites of passage about an aimless young man whose life is transformed by meeting the 'perfect stranger'. Then something happens... A wise, sad, wonderfully written memoir that's ripe for rediscovery. Track down a copy now."

September Publishing have just reissued the book and we are very pleased to have done the large print edition. We have also managed to publish it at the same price as the regular edition, £14.99, something the RNIB is always campaigning for. 

Further details can be found here

Saturday, 25 April 2015


We are very pleased to announce that we will be publishing Alan Moorehead's classic Gallipoli, with a new introduction by Sir Max Hastings, on May 28th, in large print in both hardback and paperback. 

Prices are still to be decided. We hold World English language rights. This is an exciting new departure for us. So few books are published in large print that we have decided to do our own publishing. 

This book was The Sunday Times book of the year in 1956 and is being comprehensively re-reviewed at the moment. 

Typical of the plaudits are these comments from Germaine Greer in the New Statesman:

"Masterful Gallipoli ... now republished with a thoughtful introduction by Max Hastings ... Alan Moorehead's account of Gallipoli is still the best written. He concentrates on the key players, the commanding officers on both sides and the politicians who were manipulating them."

If you require further information please email:

Thursday, 18 September 2014

September Newsletter

Large Print Books

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Large Print Selection - September 2014

This months highlights include the latest Jack Reacher novel from Lee Child, the final book in the Kinross trilogy from Christina Courtenay and the touching true story of a woman who turned down $1 million to sell her home for a commercial development and ended up sparking an unlikely friendship with the man charged with building a shopping centre on top of her house in Under One Roof.
All these and many more are available from the Large Print Bookshop.

Now Available:

Personal: A Jack Reacher Novel - Lee Child

You can leave the army, but the army doesn't leave you. Not always. Not completely, notes Jack Reacher - and sure enough, the retired military cop is soon pulled back into service. This time, for the State Department and the CIA.

Paperback £21.99             Other books by Lee Child

The Care and Management of Lies - Jacqueline Winspear

The Care and Management of Lies is a lyrical drama of love struggling to survive in a damaged, fractured world.

Paperback £23.50

Monsoon Mists - Christina Courtenay

Sometimes the most precious things cannot be bought....
This is the final novel in Christina Courtenay's award winning Kinross series, the sequel to Trade Winds and Highland Storms.

Paperback £23.50             Other books by Christina Courtenay

Judy: A Dog in a Million - Damian Lewis

Judy, a beautiful liver and white English pointer, and the only animal POW of WWII, truly was a dog in a million. Whether she was dragging men to safety from the wreckage of a torpedoed ship, scavenging food to help feed the starving inmates of a hellish Japanese POW camp, or by her presence alone bringing inspiration, she was cherished and adored by Allied servicemen.

Paperback £23.50

Under One Roof: How a Tough Old Woman in a Little Old House Changed My Life - Barry Martin, Philip Lerman

The heart-warming true story of the bond between a feisty octogenarian and the man in charge of building a shopping mall on top of her home - which inspired the opening scene of the Pixar movie Up!

Paperback £23.50

Classic Fiction Choice:


Evelina - Frances Burney

The story of a young woman's entry into society, womanhood and love.

Paperback £19.50


When ordering for the quickest delivery, always look out for those titles on our website which are marked as either 'currently in stock' or 'In Stock (usually dispatched in 1-2 working days)'.

Other titles are normally available for dispatch within about 7 - 10 days as we have more stock arriving all the time.