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
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
"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
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
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 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.
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