Thursday, January 07, 2010

Agatha Christie

A visit to Hatchards on Piccadilly is always an expensive one. A narrow crowded space with creaky floor boards and a wide curved set of front windows it looks right out of central casting as the quintessential representation of what an old victorian bookstore might have been like. A complete nonsense of course but Hatchard's remains one of the few constant destinations in our infrequent trips to London. The store has a very well curated collection of books and their buyers go deep into categories despite the small location.

Had it not been for Hatchards I wouldn't have seen the collection of Agatha Christie titles that began to trickle out from Harpercollins in 2008 (I think). These 'new' hardcover titles recreate the original published covers and trim size and are now a wonderful 38 volume set. There are more to come I think but he lies a frustration. As far as I can tell the no one is offering to sell the entire set: A consumer has to buy them individually - gambling somewhat that they have them all. Now really, with an author that maybe the world's most popular wouldn't it make some sense to market to this expansive audience a bit more aggressively. These titles are even hard to find on the HC web site. Here would be some examples:
  • a complete boxed set
  • a mail order version - a new title delivered by mail each quarter from the publisher
  • individually boxed titles (sold as a set or separately)
  • inscribed editions that allow you to gift the books with an inscription
These are books that are read and re-read and there is no question that some one who buys one of these titles couldn't be induced - without too much difficulty - to buy all of them. Interestingly, I intended to write this post last year after I visited Hatchard's but this year I was again reminded of the continued frustration at not being able by buy all of the titles in one go and the obvious lack of creativity on behalf of the publisher.

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