Another year gone and more magazines in need of binding….. A sobering thought that I have been subscribing to British Birds since 1975 (37 years), and have amassed decent bound copies back to 1946. With trips to
Morocco and in 1978, 1982 and 1983, I developed an interest in the area, and took Sandgrouse from the early days. I suppose Birding World comes next, having subscribed halfway through the first year, now in its 25th Volume. I subscribed right from the start with British Wildlife, although lapsed for several years, volumes 7 - 10, but am current again, and managed to get the missing copies. Atropos, a relative newcomer, but is probably the most eagerly anticipated. Cyprus
British Birds 1975 – date, 70 volumes, back copies to 1946
Sandgrouse 1980 – date, 33 volumes unbound
Birding World 1988 – date, 25 volumes
British Wildlife 1990 – date, 23 volumes
Atropos 1996 – date, 8 volumes
Several other magazines have come and gone, but I feel that those currently on subscription are the leading magazines in their field, and I eagerly await them dropping through the letter box. Of course, the main problem in being a bit of a bibliophile is storage, with at least 75 feet of shelving just for natural history books! There are a few more of reference type books and biographies, and there are still a few boxes stored in the loft which have yet to see the light of day in
The cost of books is a major concern these days, and several series I am collecting are about to publish new volumes in the £75 to £150 range. However, probably the best value series is The Encyclopedia of Swedish Flora and Fauna which aims to cover c.40,000 species, and although in Swedish with English summaries, is fantastic value at around £50 per volume; I have the ones covering the moths so far, and also the hoverflies and one or two selected others. Perhaps my favourite book is the Dragonflies of Ireland, with stunning photographs by Robert Thompson, and heavily subsidised by the Irish authorities; it was so good, I bought two!
Books that have appreciated greatly or were picked up for reasonable amounts would include the Collins New Naturalist book on The New Forest, bought in Bournemouth the day I was offered a job in Dorset, and is currently worth ten times what I paid for it; the Jenni and Winkler Moult and Ageing of European Passerines, first editions recently sold for 20 times what I paid for it. A bargain at a boot sale got me a copy of the The Flies of the British Isles by Colyer and Hammond, which at £2 for a first edition with a small library stamp and fine dust-cover could easily command much more than that, while being a useful reference source.
I just do not believe that the internet and digital copies will ever fully replace good books. Although I had a copy of the Ray Society British Tortricoid Moths on CD, I jumped at the chance of buying both ‘real’ volumes early in 2011. You cannot beat the feel and smell of a good book, and if selective, can be a good investment. I am sure I have will have a much better return on my books than similar outlay invested in the stock market, and more importantly have had the benefit of enjoying them and referring to them during that time. Unfortunately, like buses, good books all come along at once!