Well, well, well! What a January it's been here at Shire & Old House Towers ('The Old Shire House'? Let me know what you think.)
January is publishing's quiet month. The work doesn't stop, of course: editorial and production are busy preparing for spring and summer's publications, and we marketing/publicity/sales types are annoying journalists and retailers about why they should be interested in books that aren't available yet. But big new titles aren't generally released, for the simple reason that people are either shopped-out after Christmas or occupied with all the books they received as presents. Shops, both online or in the highstreet, are for the most part quiet. Books don't really sell in massive numbers.
Unless, that is, you've just published a facsimile edition of a railway guide from the late Victorian period.
Unlikely? Certainly. But our Bradshaw's Handbook 1863 is an exact replica of the book that inspires the television-series 'Great British Railway Journeys', and with the airing of the new series demand has soared to levels of which we as a whole group (Osprey, Shire, Old House and Angry Robot) have never seen the like. We're talking #1 on Amazon, #1 on the national non-fiction chart, and around 30,000 books sold in less than a month; we're talking prominent appearances in The Telegraph and The Daily Mail (quoting yours truly, no less). The third print-run has been ordered, and the book wasn't even scheduled for release until January 10th. Which, by anybody's standards, is some pretty great shakes.
Most of you, of course, will already be aware of the book precisely because of all that publicity. My reason for gathering you all together here today is to point you towards some Bradshaw titles which haven't received the same attention but which are equally fascinating. Bradshaw's Canals & Navigable Rivers of England and Wales (available now for pre-order) is a fascinating look, from 1904, at exactly that. It holds a wealth of information on the network that, once so central to British trade, was even then in the process of being supplanted by the railways, but which has since become an invaluable leisure-resource for canal-boaters and walkers. And Bradshaw's 1907 Railway Map (available now) is a must-have companion to the Handbook, a comprehensive map of the entire British railway network just as it was reaching its apogee and greatest extent.
That's all for now, folks, other than to say that if you haven't already you might consider signing-up for the monthly Shire & Old House newsletter, where you'll find a veritable and regular reservoir of information about forthcoming titles - and even the occasional special-offer...