The website and the blog

For 21 years I worked in bookselling – firstly in Science books, then in Computer books, before taking over the running of computer systems for the company I worked for. They were James Thin, a 150 year-old fifth generation family firm who were known worldwide as a source of academic and Scottish books. Back then it was one of the largest stockholding bookshops in Europe and it expanded to have at one point over 30 branches. It had contacts with a number of loyal local authors and one of those was Dorothy Dunnett. Thins had a mailing list of readers, mostly overseas, who always wanted her latest books as soon as they appeared.

When I branched out into setting up email and then a website I made contact with some of these readers who had formed an internet email discussion group and were delighted that there could be a web page devoted to her on our new site.

It was to prove a life changing meeting! I was lucky enough to make friends with Dorothy and work with her in developing the website and help to communicate with her large and enthusiastic readership by sending out newsletters. The site blossomed but Thins started to get into financial difficulties. Then suddenly, just two months after Dorothy’s untimely illness and death, the company’s banking was withdrawn and the administrators were called in. Many of us lost our jobs and the website was closed. Unwilling to see the Dunnett pages lost I rewrote and redesigned them into something like the site you see today and hosted them on my own webspace.

After a couple of years of struggling to find consistent work I found I could no longer keep writing the newsletters that I’d continued to send. That state of play continued until I decided to add this blog.


Comments

The website and the blog — 6 Comments

  1. Great news about the re-issue of the Lymond titles! I began reading DD in the early 70s and am still hooked – have them all in H/C as well as the Niccolo series. I too was a bookseller (in Australia) for almost 30 yrs and introduced so many readers to these incredible stories.
    ….. still rant on about them to friends.
    I think if ‘they’ do as good an interpretation to film as the Poldark series, I’ll be happy, although, as you say, it will never be the Lymond in our minds.

  2. Dear Bill,

    My birthday gift last year was the complete Niccolo in hardback…a dream of a collection from a beloved spouse. I have both Companion Guides, which is enormously helpful. I am just beginning (for the second round) said series…my question…is Niccolo on audio? It would be a dream.

    My husband and I will be in Bruges for two weeks this May so am designing s walking tour for us…a lovely project!

    Thanks for all you do!
    Mary

  3. Hi Mary and welcome. Lovely to have the hardback collection (well done to your husband!) – you forget sometimes how much easier it is to read compared to the dense printing of the paperbacks. Though the hardback’s extra weight do mean laying them on your lap rather than holding them up!
    I’ll a little out of date on the availability of the audiobooks so I’ll need to check, but certainly they were available for a while. I’ve started (again) on redesigning the site and re-writing the content so I’ll be investigating all these aspects.
    Bruges is a delight and I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. There is an excellent guidebook to Bruges available from the Dorothy Dunnett Society if you need an hints.
    best wishes
    Bill

  4. I am staying with my son in Devon and so, with time to spare, I have the luxury of re-reading my autographed copy of “Gemini” which I devoured moment it was published. I have been interested in your blog and,rediscovering the DD website, have loved the opportunity to re-read Dorothy’s thoughts as the series ended. I, too, remember the early heady days as we gradually came to realise there was a link to Lymond.
    Stirling 2000 was a highlight. How lucky we were to attend.
    I was introduced to DD and Lymond by a lady called Isobel Dixon from Edinburgh many years ago. She was a stalwart admirer of DD. Any efforts to contact her have been unsuccessful. I live in Kent and Jo Kirkham of Rye once did marvellous study days. There I met Margaret Longmate, a determined Scottish lady proud of her lineage and connection to the Sinclairs. Sadly, she died in December last year.
    Having found the DD websites I shall be returning to them in the future and have fun remembering the early days and – yes- I once bought a book from you in Thins on a NADFAS visit to Scotland!

  5. P.S. Isobel was “Dickson”.

    Reading Dorothy’s thoughts on finishing Nicholas I notice she was afraid she’d never finish it. You knew her well at that time. Was she already ill?

  6. Hi Julia and Welcome. Glad to hear you’re rediscovering the site and hope you find the blog articles interesting. I always enjoy reading comments on them and they’re often stimulating with new ideas. You may be interested to hear that the much-delayed redesign and revision of the main website is now finally underway, though it’s a big job and may take a few months.

    Yes, Stirling was such a wonderful and very memorable occasion. I don’t expect to ever have dinner in such a grand hall again! And meeting so many people for the first time who I’d only known through emails was a treat.

    I haven’t heard anything of Isobel for quite some time I’m afraid. I’ll ask around if I get a chance. Jo’s been a stalwart for many years and her various Rye events are legendary.

    I don’t think Dorothy was ill at the time of the Gathering, but I do think that she felt a great responsibility over finishing Gemini – both to her readers in terms of giving them a satisfying conclusion, and to the people at her publishers who were responsible for getting the book to print. We can only speculate how deeply she was affected by Alastair’s death but I always felt it must have been such a difficult and emotional occasion to finally finish the book and the series and not be able to give him the manuscript to read. He was always the first to read them as soon as she completed them, and was always so very proud of her achievments, and this time he was no longer there!

    best wishes
    Bill

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