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Bookseller profile – John Atkinson


John Atkinson’s bookselling business, which was launched in 2007, is located in Ripon in North Yorkshire. We were thrilled to meet John at the recent London International Antiquarian Book Fair and he has given us an insight into his work as a seller of some beautiful modern first editions.

John Atkinson surrounded by his books

A member of the ABA and PBFA, John’s inventory includes Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels, winners of the Booker Prize and literary fiction including many of the great female authors of the 1950s.  His books range from £25 for a signed Donna Leon novel to £15,000 for signed limited edition of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. His listings are always accompanied by beautiful photography – take a gander at this lovely first edition of A Kind of Loving by Stan Barstow.

AbeBooks – You have an MSc. and PhD from the University of Newcastle in sociophonetics. What is sociophonetics?

John Atkinson – It’s the study of accent and dialect mapped across social, age and gender influences and how these affect the way we speak

AbeBooks – You only began bookselling in 2007. What made you decide to take the plunge?

John Atkinson – I decided to just go for it. I had an interest in antiques and had bought sold pieces of furniture in the past. I then found some old books in the attic and sold them on Amazon and made a better return than I did on the furniture. The beauty of the productions of some on the books and the wonderful artwork made me enjoy the things I sold

AbeBooks – Why do you list Roald Dahl’s Danny The Champion of the World as your favourite book by a mile?

AbeBooks – I’m very close to my father and he encouraged me to become a bookseller. It’s the story of a father’s bond with his son and he read it to me as a child. My son is only two and I’ve read it to him twice!

AbeBooks – Two of your specialisms are 007 books by Ian Fleming and 1950s fiction by female writers – two very different areas. What attracts you to these areas?

John Atkinson – I think the 007 angle is easy to explain….every boy/man loves the idea of being Bond. The superb artwork used for the dust wrappers, the storylines, and the rarity of some of the books all blend to make selling 007 an adventure. 1950s female fiction is the complete opposite – my bookselling model is like a magnet what can I say?!

AbeBooks – If you weren’t selling books, what else could you be doing?

John Atkinson – I seriously can’t think of something…probably something involving selling something to someone!

AbeBooks – What’s the book that you have always wanted to own but not found yet?

John Atkinson – I know it’s out there, but it’s probably the copy of ‘You Only Live Twice’ signed by Fleming to the ‘real’ James Bond (the ornithologist) in the West Indies.

Here are five books from John’s inventory that caught our eye – all of them priced less than £100.

A 1986 first edition of Between the Woods and the Water by Patrick Leigh Fermor

A 1958 first edition of The Bell by Iris Murdoch

A 1983 first edition of The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

A 1958 first edition of Borstal Boy by Brendan Behan

A 1965 first edition of The Man With the Golden Gun by Ian Fleming

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