History of Bibliophile Books

History of Bibliophile Books

History of Bibliophile Books

History of Bibliophile Books

Over 35 years of selling bargain books...

The Wharf newspaper writes : "It all started in 1978 when Bill Smith met Australian journalist Max Harris and formed a book club with no membership fees but with newsletters sent out 10 times a year.

Owner Annie Quigley says: "It just started with two elderly gentlemen with an eclectic mix of books. It was very profitable for them but sadly Max Harris died."

Annie joined the company in 1985, becoming editor of the newsletter in 1988 and when Bill Smith developed cancer he made plans for her to buy the company from his widow.

In 1992, when Annie took over the company, it was based in Thomas Road, Poplar, but when the property was sold to developers and Bibliophile was given a few months' notice it was a blessing in disguise.

"We were bursting out at that stage. We had quadrupled the size of the business."

With over 3,500 titles at any one time, its choices available are certainly broad, from Wordsworth editions selling from £2 to high-end art books. One of the major selling points for the brand is the fact it gives 50-90 per cent off the cover price of its books, which comes about by picking up titles and offering them at affordable prices.

Annie said: "We have signed editions, first editions. Publishers need to clear stocks as there are so many books printed. It's a gamble for us though because, unlike a bookshop that has sale or return, we don't have that. I have to go on gut instinct. That's where literary knowledge comes in."

The 10-times-a-year newsletter, edited by Annie, is the staple part of the business, with ten of thousands on the mailing list.

"We do independent, honest reviews. I do two-thirds of them and we ran a competition for contributors in our style for which we had 2,500 people enter. In the end, six people won and they got a contract as freelancers."


A speciality of Bibliophile is our editor/owner Annie's parents. Her mother Aileen Armitage has written 34 novels and was Woman of the Year for this achievement despite her blindness. Her step-father Deric Longden has six books published, the first two of which became the films Wide Eyed and Legless and Lost For Words, both starring Thora Hird. See Deric's fan club Message Board and thier author websites for Deric and Aileen. Bibliophile has published Deric's Diana's Story and Lost For Words and several other titles in Amazon Kindle eBook editions. Click to buy all Bibliophile's out of print choices to republish in eBook format.

Bibliophile is the ultimate Green company - the very books we have bought up remaining copies of would otherwise be pulped, our newspaper format is eco-friendly and we recycle packaging.
Bibliophile sells books signed whenever possible in our family book club like those of our author friends like David Day the Canadian poet, environmentalist and Tolkien expert, historian Max Arthur, artists Helen Cowcher and Frieda Hughes, crime writer Simon Brett, Python Terry Jones, Ray Hammond, cartoonist Neil Kerber, wordsmith Ray Puxley and the late great George Melly and others have all been happy to sign their books for Bibliophile. We love their friendships and they love our enterprise! Another speciality of Bibliophile is our Private Eye cartoonist Tony's cartoons. A friend of Bibliophile for over 15 years, Tony Husband has cartooned for dozens of our front covers and section headings lifting our collective spirits and adding his unique talents to the family book club. See his website Tony's Cartoons.

Our founding father, Australian journalist Max Harris, dreamed up the name for our publication Bibliophile in 1978. Max, poet, columnist and intellectual, was the literary expert who made it his mission to access cheaper and better books for the Australian market - and to fight literary censorship.
Max Harris
Max Harris
In league with Bill Smith, former editor of Books & Bookmen and owner of an eponymously named chain of bargain bookshops "Booksmith", the two bookworms founded our mail order bookclub. Bill also found fame as a publisher and was the last person to be charged and acquitted under the Obscene Publications Act. He had reprinted a book called The Amorous Illustrations of Thomas Rowlandson and discovered that the original erotic watercolours were held at the Queen's private Library at Windsor Castle no less!  Bill’s defence summary in court was delivered in style, with his thumbs tucked under his imaginary braces, “Me Lud, surely if they’re good enough for Her Majesty, they’re good enough for her subjects!”  Case dismissed.



Later the business was partnered by Fred Bass “the New York Bookseller” and owner of the famous Strand Bookstore, now in its 90th year.

In 1991, our Annie Quigley was given the opportunity to buy the business by her mentor Bill Smith when he was dying.

In July 1992 she bought out his widow and Fred Bass and she became sole proprietor. Since then, it has grown to over four times the size and is still run by a small, dedicated staff, six of whom have served over 15 years and Bibliophile's own eBooks and Publications has been launched.

In 2011 Bibliophile was granted a Royal Warrant for Bookselling to HRH The Duke of Edinburgh.



Booksellers' Association of Great Britain
The Royal Warrant Holders' Assocation
Windsor, Eton & District Royal Warrant Holders' Assocation
The Groucho Club