Welcome Back Winter


Christmas is the busiest time for shopping.  If you're a serious reader, books are often the go-to for presents for everyone on your list, making for an often hectic experience in stores. An entire industry revolves around our quest for the ideal gifts. 

Those who return to bookshops after New Years do so for completely different, more personal reasons.

For us, a book shop becomes once again that quiet retreat, a place to browse, to take your time, to discover your own pursuits, whatever they might be.  And those are exactly the kind of readers we encourage. So take your time. 

Welcome back. 




On Location: Jon Redfern


Local filmmaker Joseph Frankel creates unique documentary-style videos for authors. He shot a few scenes for his latest right here at the store, in an interview with Jon Redfern, a mystery writer and Balfour Books regular. We decided to turn the tables back on Joseph, who shared with us his secret to a great book trailer:

What got you involved in making a book trailer for Jon Redfern? 
I was introduced to Jon by Robert Rotenberg, another Toronto-based mystery writer who is a mutual friend.  In addition to being a great writer who has won several awards, Jon is very savvy about what it takes to stand out and market yourself well within the publishing industry.  I showed him the videos I made for Rotenberg and he instantly saw the value in it. 
Why did you want to shoot at Balfour Books? 
Balfour is a great cinematic location.  In my mind it's really the definition of a "neighborhood book store."  It has so much charm and character and Lewis stocks books you can't find at the average mega-store.  People come from all over the city and they don't just buy books, they come to hang out!  When I was interviewing Jon Redfern prior to our shoot I learned that he has a ritual: he goes to Balfour every afternoon after a morning of writing to clear his head and chat with Lewis and the staff.  From that moment, shooting there became a no-brainer. 

What do you think makes for a good book trailer? 
I think the subject dictates the approach, but I'm always focussed on telling a story whether I'm promoting a book directly or promoting the author of a series of books.  In Jon's case, I thought his charisma and charm would help connect him with new readers, so I made him the focus and produced an author profile about him.  In contrast, the package I produced for Robert Rotenberg included actual trailers for his books and I combined HD video and actual film to create some dynamic visuals.  No matter what medium or approach you choose, a book trailer or author profile should enhance the books without giving too much away or spoiling the experience of reading them.  

Are crime or mystery is particular good for trailers?  

Right now the market is wide open.  I think there are dynamic and innovative ways to promote a cookbook if you think outside the box, but mysteries are driven so heavily by action, plot and atmosphere that they certainly lend themselves to cinematic storytelling.

Find out more about Joe Frankel.

And author Jon Redfern.



Curiouser and Curiouser!

Sometimes in the used book trade you come across some very peculiar collections. We recently acquried a set of Alice in Wonderland books, over a dozen different editions, including some really unusually illustrated versions dating back to the 1920s and 30s. You don't often get to see sets of well known characters rendered in such different ways over time. 
This edition was produced for Bell & Hyman Limited, in the UK in 1985, a  set of illustrations by pen and water colour illustrations that by Alice B. Woodward and Sue Shields with a decidedly delicate period touch. UPDATE: SOLD
No doubt the most fantastic is this copy from 1923, The Children's Bookshelf edition by the John C. Winston Company. The series has large type and are "well sewn" to "give long service in the hands of children. Alongside the more familar ink drawings of John Tenniel, there are four unique colour plates, done in the same soft-pastel painted style as the cover by Edwin John Prittie. UPDATE:SOLD
Also in the same set-- a half dozen beautiful editions of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, the astronomer poet of Persia, each again with beautiful illustrations, and translated by Edward. But if you are looking to start your own collection, or for your collector in your life, these are just a sample of some the more unusual vintage that now populate our hardcover shelves, just in time for Christmas. 

Down These Mean Streets

"Down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid. The detective must be a complete man and a common man and yet an unusual man. He must be, to use a rather weathered phrase, a man of honor."- Raymond Chandler, from essay the Simple Art of Murder

This month we feature a selection of classic hard men, detectives, tough guys, PIs, and super spies. Hard-boiled fiction at its finest, full of guns, double-crosses and great dames, from the masters of the genre, Hammett and Chandler.  

So why not fit James Bond into this company? The newest film incarnation with Daniel Craig casts him as a thug, a brute killer who wears a Tux nicely. Yet he's got that same sense of honor as the PI's that Chandler admires, that allows him to go from crowded ballrooms to underground lairs. The original books keep things light, fast-paced snappy prose, part adventure novel, part international travelogue-- with places! you! could! go! For the sixties-jet-set. 

The edition we have of The Man With The Golden Gun is a Book Club Edition from 1965,  the last novel Flemming wrote before dying in 1964.


Ladies & Gentlemen

Here at Balfour, we try not to sort our books strictly upon gender lines, nor make assumptions about readership. A female publishing executive is just as likely to seek out true crime as a mafioso enforcer is to pick up Fifty Shades of Grey. We've seen it happen.  

Still, that doesn't stop a few books from tipping a little bit further to one side or other of the gender divide. 

To wit: 

For the inspired theoretical mathemetician in your life: 

Apiary science, naturally a masculine pursuit: 

And a final post-mortem blast of belligerance from a master: 

And for the fairer sex, a bit classic, a bit erotic, a bit avant garde. 

Hardly seems fair= Bucky Balls, Bees, and Death for the gents.  Romance, Erotica, and  Poetry for the ladies. Is this our own bias? Don't let us tell you what you should like. You have to find out for yourself-no matter how many shades you're looking for.