Dunnett Newsletter – 24th April 2002

Greetings from Edinburgh where we’ve just held the 2nd AGM of the Dorothy Dunnett Readers Association (DDRA). Just over 50 people gathered in the Point Hotel for the meeting and the associated talks by Elspeth Morrison and Richenda Todd, and by Charles Burnett, with many of them coming on the bus trip to Blackness Castle and Torphichen Priory. I’ll report on the event in full later, but it went very well and I think everyone enjoyed it.

This main purpose of this quick newsletter is to let you all know that I’ve now set up the Dunnett web pages on my own site after partly rewriting them and adding a new navigation system. Go to


and click on the Dunnett button.
There is still some further re-writing to be done but I wanted to get them back available to you all as soon as possible. It’s likely that both my pages and the Dunnett pages will move to a different server in the future, but you’ll always be able to get to them by following that address.

Please let me know if the new drop-down navigation system works ok for you – it’s a little experimental but should work cross-browser on most modern systems, though I haven’t had the opportunity to test it on a Mac yet. And if you spot any typos or broken links I’ll be glad to hear about them – there are a few adjustments to be made and one or two of the drop downs don’t yet go anywhere (Dublin for instance) but at least they’re back up and can now be worked on when time allows.

I also wanted to let you know that the latest revision of the list of books from Dorothy’s house that are for sale is now on the site. I’ve been having trouble with the redirect so use the address


It was originally thought that we had to get the books out of the house very quickly, but thankfully this has been extended somewhat. The Colinton Road house has now been sold but the new owner is not coming in until June, so we have a few more weeks to go. This time I’ve attempted to put prices to the books, as many of you with no experience of buying older editions didn’t know what to offer for them. To be honest it’s a bit of a black art and one that I don’t claim too much expertise in, so we’ll still look at offers, but the prices listed should be a reasonable guide.

I’ve had very little time recently due to the work placement I’ve been on and the small business startup seminars and workshops I’ve been attending, so I’ll be passing any further orders on to Mungo and Ninian for processing and they will deal with you directly.

The US paperback edition of the new Vol 2 Dunnett Companion has just been released. The UK hardback edition is due in the shops shortly, though we managed to persuade Michael Joseph to give us some copies early to sell at the DDRA AGM.

Although I haven’t had time to read very much of the discussion groups recently, I did notice some people were asking about getting US copies in the UK and vice-versa, and whether booksellers were allowed to do this. This must be a tricky one since there are the two different editions with neither publisher likely to produce an edition in the “opposite” binding. Technically it depends on who owns the rights where, and how they are worded. In practice some booksellers may be cautious about it and some may not. World-wide internet selling has rendered the whole system of regional rights something of an anachronism, but the fact is that publishers do pay substantial amounts of money for these rights and have a valid interest in protecting them. However I can’t see companies like Amazon being bothered about that since they haven’t been in the past, and if they do it then everyone else will be forced to follow suit or risk their customers deserting them.

In the old days a few overseas sales by mail order didn’t matter much but now the potential is there for much larger transfers of sales. I suppose I was the main catalyst for Dunnett books with James Thin, but I suspect that it was the internet sales of UK editions of Harry Potter in the US that really woke the publishers up about this. You may well see simultaneous publication happening more often to avoid demand being generated when one country lags behind another. This may be hard for some companies as there are valid cultural differences why a book should be promoted at different times of the year. However I suspect that the increasing globalisation of publishing will eventually see world rights become the norm for anything other than small specialist publishers

Many of you have been asking about what has happened to James Thin. The position isn’t entirely finalised yet, but basically it is being sold off in two parts. Ottakers, who are a general bookselling chain based in England have bought the outlying Scottish shops and the remaining English ones. They will likely rebrand these as Ottakers shops. The branches in Perth and Ayr have been closed along with Huddersfield and Wimbledon, as no buyers could be found for them. It was announced to the press on Saturday that the academic shops including the South Bridge head office where I worked is being bought by Blackwells, who are the last of the independents and are well known as academic specialists based in Oxford. All the upper and middle management at South Bridge have either gone or are due to go shortly, and it looks as if there will be no head office functions retained. It seems that even the name will go and the Blackwells name used.

As for myself I’ve been doing a job placement with a search engine optimisation company in Leith and am hoping to be offered a permanent position soon. I also hope to start a small business, probably part-time at first, combining web design, writing and photography, with the web design side specialising in authors and publishers. Any of the authors on the list needing a web site designed for them?

It’s possible I may do some bookselling as well but the dispatching side of it takes so much time that this may not be a realistic option. As you’ll recall I had thought about trying to deal with the audiobooks but I’m glad now that I didn’t because there simply wouldn’t have been time to do it justice during the last few weeks – I seem to have even less time now than I did when I was working at Thins. I may look at it again but with Howes arranging sales in the US it would probably only be a small operation.

Will be in touch again soon with a report of the AGM.

Best wishes to you all and thanks for the continued messages of support.



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