Well, Spring again, and with it the start of a fresh venture. As we mentioned in the last issue, for some time now we’ve been becoming increasingly aware of the number of excellent books that have been allowed to slip out of print – in particular those fascinating memoirs and personal accounts that bring alive a particular moment or place, that allow you into someone else’s world and make you feel you have actually known the writer. Often these books light up a period in a way that no history book can. So it seemed to us to make sense to reprint some of them. From now on with each issue of Slightly Foxed we’ll be offering a new title, with a piece to introduce it in the issue itself.
Slightly Foxed Editions are clothbound pocket hardbacks, printed – by our wonderful craftsmen printers Smith Settle – on the same delicious cream paper as Slightly Foxed, with coloured endpapers, headband, tailband and silk ribbon marker. Each title will be published in a limited, numbered edition of 2,000 copies, available only from Slightly Foxed and a few selected independent booksellers. Apart from being memorable reads, and just the right size for slipping into a pocket, they’ll look delightful on your shelves and will also make excellent presents.
We’ll be applying the same criteria to Slightly Foxed Editions that we apply to the quarterly itself: good writing, serious not solemn, and with a high premium on humour. Our first title certainly fulfils them – Blue Remembered Hills, the children’s writer Rosemary Sutcliff’s vivid and touching memoir of her childhood (see p.13; also SF, No.4). And at the start of this issue Ronald Blythe describes the pleasure he gained from inheriting a friend’s library of pocket editions – delightful little books that transported him to another world. We hope ours will do the same for you. We’re on the lookout for really good future titles and there will be a year’s free subscription for any reader whose suggestion of a favourite memoir we take up.
By the way, on the subject of out-of-print books, we’ve decided it’s a waste of space to mention the Internet, libraries and second-hand bookshops at the bottom of every relevant piece. From now on we’ll simply do so once at the bottom of the contents page. Do remember your local library. Public Lending Right fees mean that you’re doing an author a good turn every time you borrow a book. And libraries need our support, too, to keep going.
Lastly, have you heard of ‘Buzz Marketing’? We hadn’t until recently, and were rather shocked to discover what it is – paying people to go round apparently spontaneously praising your product. Perhaps it’s no worse than celebrities advertising shampoos and timeshares. But it does seem particularly cynical somehow. And it did make us feel fortunate to have so many readers who put the word round about Slightly Foxed without even having to be asked. Not to mention Miles Kington, also a subscriber, who came to our event at Topping’s Bookshop in Bath (on a night that made us all look like drowned rats) and then wrote a splendid piece about us in his Independent column. Thank you to all of you. And we hope that Slightly Foxed will bring you more pleasure during the coming year.