April 2012

At our next full CAFE PHILOSOPHIQUE, 7.30 for 8, Saturday21st. April,in the Bookshop Cafe,  David Furness will be investigating the factors, some new, some as old as Tulip Mania, that lie behind Economic Crises. I’ve heard bits of early drafts on a couple of long (they seemed shorter) walks, and found several elements surprisingly novel, and almost unmentioned in the TV/Radio/Broadsheet media. The talk will be, unlike most public debates, the fruit of months of research and thought. Austerity food may be served – full details soon.

March 2012

On Friday 16th. March at 7.30 p.m., Dave Mitchell will be leading a Cafe Philosophique (Reading Group) Special (no food/no charge/no set books/all welcome) on his experiences in Putouzhai Village, Tianzhu County, Qiandongnan Miao and Dong Autonomous Prefecture, Guizhou Province, China. You’ve probably heard of China, maybe of Guizhou Province (about 35 million people live in it and its capital Guiyang has a rapidly expanding airport), but probably not of the Prefecture, County (which is actually a town) or Village. Dave’s son married a daughter of the village in January, so the meeting, really a slide-show, may reveal some aspects of life in rural China which are not widely familiar either to westerners or to people from other provinces of China. The trip was a bit of a strain for airways-virgin Dave, who had never flown in a passenger plane before and who doesn’t (yet) speak Mandarin, let alone the Dong dialect, but he relaxed in the care of Mandarin Pacific and felt at home with a (now his) family in “Deepest China”.

February 2012

Recent second-hand purchases include DERBYSHIRE history, with many Derbyshire Record Society volumes in immaculate condition; some of the scarcer volumes are now listed on the net (see via our rarebooks page or ABEbooks or Amazon), the rest are out on the shelves. The South Yorkshire village of Penistone also features. More than a hundred good volumes of MUSICAL HISTORY have recently been added to our Music shelves, with a few others on the net, with a particular reference to Opera and to Lieder. A Broadside (not THAT sort) of NAVAL books has also entered the shop, inlcuding a good range of Conway Maritime and Chatham monographs on particular vessels and epochs.

January 2012

The complete overhaul and renovation of our CHILDREN’S ROOM is now complete. For those who fear this translates as ‘turned into a bland book room like book rooms anywhere and everywhere’ can rest assured that this is not the case, thanks in part to the great work carried out by Richard, who has rebuilt all the shelving and in large part to the efforts of two barmy local artists, KATY and CLAIRE (www.somecuriousfinds.org.uk) who have created the most amazing CEILING INSTALLATION. Dave M’s story of the transformation and some images will appear on here sometime soon(ish) – even now(ish) – apologies for the outsized format, the rtesult of copying from Word.

How the Children Bookroom came to be transformed  a Fairy Story 

Once upon a time there was a beautiful Bookseller Daughter called Sophie, with a very special father calledDavid, who could do all sorts of things. One day, as Sophie was exploring the far floors of Scarthin Books she came upon a door that she had never noticed before.  The security lock had stopped working and the door opened as soon as she touched the handle.  Inside, sitting on an enormous pile of cardboard and torn-up books, was a strange old man, with a beard reaching down to his chin. ÓWho are you? she asked?

“Why, child, surely you know, I am the KING OF THE BOOKSHOP. Many think I have abdicated or even died, but it is known that one day, in the hour of greatest need, I shall return to save Scarthin Books.¡¬

Sophie was so shocked by the idea of this grumpy geriatric interfering in the running of her favourite shop that she blurted out the first silly thing that came into her head.

a proper bookseller. He could even use all those old papers to, to transform the Children Bookroom overnight !

Hearing this, the King thought how profitable it would be for the Children Bookroom to be transformed and so he sent for David, and, leading him to the Room, presented him with a mountain of waste paper  broken books, newspapers and unpaid bills.

If you can recycle these papers and transform the Children Bookroom before morning, you can continue in the Bookshop, whiling away your working hours, idling indolently and lazing -about languidly, happily ever after. IF YOU FAIL, then you must return to being a TEACHER! I leave the water heater on so you can make yourself a coffee.

And with these words, the King locked every door of the Bookshop and climbed the snow-covered hillside back to the luxuriously-appointed if inadequately-insulated RUIN in which he subsisted on fresh raw eggs and Brussels sprouts, the secret of his amazing youthfulness. David looked at the heap of papers, and at the long-neglected Children Bookroom and he slumped to the floor (which needed vacuuming) in despair. He had no idea how to transform the room, and furthermore he hadnt had his dinner. Suddenly, wafted across the landing, came an aromatic aroma of baking accompanied by loud peals of laughter. There in the doorway were two outlandishly-dressed grinning girls, or women at any rate, and in their hands were THREE take-away pizzas.

We are KATIE & CLAIRE, Guerrilla Installation Artists. The Turner Prize has failed to short-list us TWELVE TIMES!  We can transform the Children Bookroom for you, after weve eaten the pizzas and laughed a lot more. But what can you give us in return?

I cant promise you my first baby, but I could, er, make you a coffee, so long as its not a latta deal – we babies to be going on with.

And so, Katie and Claire worked all night, save only for an eight hour sleep on a secret bed at the topmost top of the Shop. The Childrens Bookroom was transformed into a white wonderland! At daybreak they vanished, though not so suddenly as they had arrived, staying on for further coffees, pieces of millionaire shortbread and even more peals of  laughter. When the King returned to see what had happened, he said, “Well, I suppose that alright, for a while at any rate. Ive got even more waste books and paper upstairs. How do you fancy being locked inGuyoffice tonight?


REPRINTING Spring 2012 –

We invite you to subscribe in advance of this publication at the pre-publication price of £50 (RRP £60). Unless you request otherwise, your name and simplified place of residence or institution, will be printed in the list of subscribers. In the event of an unreasonable delay in publication or of other justified dissatisfaction, Scarthin Books will return your subscription promptly and in full. To register an interest (no payment due just yet) go to the online form (link above) or call us on 01629 823272.
The Derwent and Howden Dams are a principal source of drinking water for much of South Yorkshire, Derbyshire and the East Midlands, including the cities of Sheffield, Derby, Leicester and Nottingham. They are magnificent engineering and architectural structures and have acquired additional fame as one of several locations used in training the Dambusters Squadron. Prof. Brian Robinson’s grandfather worked on the project and his mother was born in the temporary navvies’ village of Birchinlee in 1909, and indeed Brian himself has the stature of a powerful workman. Though a molecular biologist by profession, Prof. Robinson has had a lifelong interest in the construction of the Dams and in the lives of the workmen employed there, and in 1993, Scarthin Books of Cromford, Derbyshire were able, with support from the Severn Trent Water Authority, to publish his highly illustrated magnum opus, Walls across the Valley; The Building of the Howden and Derwent Dams in an edition of some 1500 copies. “Walls” has been out of print now for over a decade and has become Scarthin’s most legendary publication, with the few examples that come onto the market selling for £250 or more.

The building of the Dams was one of the great engineering feats of the early 20th Century, involving the building of a railway up the valley and the village for the workmen, Birchinlee and the moving of well over a million tons of earth, stone and cement. The opening ceremony was held on the 5th of September 1912, so centenary celebrations are not far in the future.

The publication of the first edition of Walls across the Valley brought to light much new material, as well as a few factual revisions, and as the original edition sold out, Brian Robinson and publisher David Mitchell invested much time and effort in revising the text, but production of a second edition was beset by technical gremlins too costly to overcome and ten years past before Scarthin Books took up the challenge again. The advance of publishing technology has allowed this scholarly and superbly-illustrated volume to be completely re-originated with the revised text, and long-established Sheffield firm J.W.Northend have undertaken to print it to their accustomed high standards.

Walls across the Valley; The Building of the Howden and Derwent Dams by Brian Robinson; Publication Date Easter 2012; large format clothbound. Limited edition of 500 copies only, numbered and signed by the author, price £60 (or £50 for pre-orders).

February 2011

Hello again Website after a long technical silence. All remains well at the Bookshop, despite a hard knock from the fifty year snowfall and frosts of November/December.

On Friday 25th. February, our inter-cultural work experience student Judith arrives from near Munich, to spend eight weeks helping us out, learning how this particular British bookshop works and, maybe, telling us how it should be working. I do hope it works out!

Simon at Bookswarm/Bookhugger online service has kindly made us the latest Independent Bookseller of the Month on their site. if it makes us sound fantastic, well maybe we are, but we did write it ourselves.

On the second-hand front, there is a continued increase in the inflow of large, illustrated, stout and scholarly, and, even, large and stout and scholarly books on wartime aviation – planes, squadrons, campaigns, manufacturers, British, American and German (mainly). Sadly, inevitably, the generations that fought during or remember 1939 to 1945 are now passing. They wrote the books, they bought the books and now their books are posthumously finding their way to us. Other specific collections purchased recently include almost more books and booklets than you would imagine possible on the erstwhile Coalmines of Britain, particularly of the South Yorkshire-West Nottinghamshire-East Derbyshire coalfield. Our John Pidcock has priced them up – some “on the net”, some on the shelves of The Ivanry cafe extension. On request, he will read from them in the dialect and make you realise that if you haven’t mined, you haven’t lived.

With regard to new books, our range of Scandinavian Crime Fiction (not just Stieg Larsson) and our Archaeology and local History have lately been admired. It’s worth perusing our Visitors Book to find the comment of one of Larsson’s compatriots.

December 2010

On Tuesday, we are hosting Amnesty International, Wirksworth Branch‘s Send a Message of Hope evening, starting at 7 p.m. (until about 9 p.m.). For a small cost, you can send a card at Christmas to a prisoner of conscience, which you can choose from a considerable list! There will be light refreshments and the bookshop will remain open straight through from six. For more information e-mail christie.taylor@tiscali.co.uk.

November 2010

The next meeting of the Conversation Cafe will be on Thursday 11th. November starting at 10.15 prompt, finishing at about noon. There is no charge and the group , of 4 to 10 people, is always enjoyable and very varied in stance. The subject will be chosen on the day, from a shortlist or a new suggestion. For more information, e-mailrogermgreen@hotmail.com.

The Telegraph Magazine is doing its annual Best Shop Awards poll and this year, including a BestSmallShopAward for various categories including Bookshops. We beseech you tovote for us online at Telegraph Shop Awards. Pick up our absolutely free and very collectible Begging Bookmark from the shop. The closing date is 10th. December, 2010.

October 2010

On Tuesday 12th. October, Deborah, Dowager Duchess of Devonshire, was here signing copies of her autobiography Wait for Me! in her bold, blue hand. Her presence, together with that of her enthusiastic and attentive secretary Helen Marchant, seemed to lighten further the serene atmosphere of the “big front room”. I had been quite nervous about this event – what to say, what to wear even! – but need not have been. In most signing sessions, the bookshop staff do indeed feel the need to keep talking to the author, to fill the long waits after the initial rush of customers. This time, there were no gaps to fill between a constantly-renewed file, and all the conversation was between the Dowager Duchess and heradmirers, to each of whom she paid particular attention (as is captured in the photograph), adding whatever peculiar wording they asked for over her signature. Her story, spanning ninety years, starts with her own memories of perhaps the most famous family upbringing in British literature, that of theMitford Sisters (and brother). She describes herself, somewhere in the book, as a Philistine, but that is belied by many celebrations of beauty and condemnations of its lack to be found in these pages. The most lyrical passage, perhaps, is her eulogy to her favourite childhood home, Swinbrook House. Surprising, perhaps, is the very tight pocket money allowed to the Mitford children, and the frugality of their mother. Much tragedy is related, including the deaths of family members and close friends in the War. The strong connection with the spectacular and tragic Kennedy family is particularly memorable, with vivid insider’s views of both the President’s Inauguration and Funeral. The descriptions of her life with Andrew, the 11th. Duke of Devonshire, are candid and picturesque with often hilarious comments on people and events – I suppose the fact that most of the GREATS described are now dead has helped to make it possible to be so uninhibited, not that her spirit is not always charitable. At intervals throughout the book, you are treated to the amazing verbal creativity of the Mitfords and their friends in their nicknames, catch-phrases and devastating expressions of opinion. The last sentences of the book proper and of appendix 1 are brilliant.

AND we can do Wait for Me!, including a few remaining signed copies, at £5 off.

Now that October is here again, we’re giving you advance notice of this year’s APPLE DAY celebrations, which will be held on Saturday 23rd October. Rick Allen and I have already gone barrel-to-barrel in a Battle of the Presses at the County Council’s Woodland Festival up at Black Rocks. The box upon box of variously scrumped apples we got through over that weekend have already been replaced, so that, in the unlikely event of not enough being brought on the day, we can keep pressing.

August 2010

Summer still – but campaign for Double British Summer Time in August and September. Why should the French have a monopoly of long summer evenings outside around the barbecue, with friends, a good book and a glass of wine, as so memorably recommended by Omar Khayyam and Edward Fitzgerald.

July 2010

After years of Late Opening, we’ve finally bowed to convention and begun opening the shop At 9 a.m. on Weekdays and Saturdays. The real demand is to open before noon on Sundays, but this would involve more disruption and complication, so we have yet to give in to the demand so clearly expressed by Sunday Morning Door-triers.

We have now completed the uplifting of the major antiques, art and architecture reference library of the late Philip Bartlam, who edited the Antique Dealer and Collectors Guidefor many years and campaigned to save historic buildings and townscape threatened with demolition. The library is one of the best we have purchased in terms of the sustained quality of the books; items we’d rather not have make up perhaps only one in twenty of the collection, rather than the more usual two out of three. Four trips to Nottingham with our largish van and John’s smallish car have been required. This very specialised library will emerge into the light of the bookshop and/or the internet in the course of the next year or so. I’m sorry, but the definitive work on Victorian Skirt Grips has already been sold. Perhaps we could have got more for it classified as erotica.

On May 12th. 2010, the number of distinct daily visits to this site (a few hundred ) suddenly approximately doubled, going up equally suddenly by another fifty percent a few days later. The site stayed busy until June 10th., but footfall has since dropped back to the pre-increases level. WHAT caused that to happen?


The week Monday to Sunday, 14th. to 20th. June is

Independent Booksellers Week 2010

during which we are hosting a Buddhist Meditation evening on Monday, not to mention TWO Conversation Cafe meetings (see posters below), and taking part in the annual

Celebrating Cromford

weekend. We shall have a stall on Saturday and Sunday, sellling some of our own publication overstocks at massive discounts and some of our spare potted-out garden vegetables. On Sunday afternoon, Kathy and Dave will be serving teas to intrepid mountaineers in theHanging Gardens of Scarthin, reached by steep and irregular steps from the Bookshop or from Hillside View, further up the road.

It appears that we have won a Case of Wine with the best submitted funny/remarkable customer comment submitted, by David Booker, to the Booksellers’ Association. Here is an approximate version.

Customer: I’m trying do up a narrow boat, have you any books that might help?

Pat: Oh, as it happens we’ve just had in a copy of How to Restore your Wooden Canal Boat.

Customer: No, that’s not the sort of thing I had in mind.

Actually, the quote as submitted for the Independent Booksellers’ Week is so different, I begin to wonder whether the whole tale is real or apocryphal.


OUCH! I’m squeezed between these two overweening event posters! Actually these very enlivening, though usually spritually serene meetings take place monthly in the variously namedIvanry or Vineyard little extension to our cafe, or round a table in the garden when preferred. If you want to come along, e-mail Roger Green via ourGroups Page.

The new Cafe Philosophique Reading Group, or CPRG anachronistically, antagonistically, anastigmatically oracronymically speaking (late-onset middle-age, or is it early-onset old-age brings out these alliterative (got it first time!!) brain-storage-recall errors) has already held two excellent meetings – the first on Evil, the second on Happiness . We meet every two months and are supposed to read at least one of two set books first – most do, but ALWAYS a few do not. Thus informed or indignant, we can contribute to what have been high-quality debates, with a structure inspired by the Conversation Cafe; before chaired anarchy supervenes, we do at least go once round the circle for almost uninterrupted brief(ish) initial contributions. If you are interested in joining, there may still be room – contact David Pankhurst to be included in, or at least considered for, the mailing list.

On Monday 14th. June, starting 7.30 p.m., we are hosting a one-off course in (Buddhist-inspired) meditation . The event consists of an introductory talk, followed by a practise meditation session. There is no charge and light refreshments. Books and CD’s will be available for purchase afterwards. Consult Tharpa Publications website for background information.

May 2010

Not an irrelevant Spring garden photograph. The tulips are ex-bookshop windowbox, the Honesty is a source of windowbox plants for this florally inbetween month, the apple blossom will become apples for Apple Day( Saturday 23rd. October this year). Such promise of Spring! But what of the summer to follow? A drought of nearly two months threatens further growth and the recent heatwave has had a similar effect on the bookshop’s finances. I,me,Dave, the Proprietor am/is now in a quandary. I have heard that the outdoorNew Bath Hotel Swimming Pool just through the woods from here, is to reopen in June, but only for long weekends, so I must hope for fine hot weekends to swim in and cold, wet weekends to drive you all into our cosy bookshop and cafe (though we do have a bijou garden). My prefered solution is morning sun and afternoon rain, I think. Note that Scarthin Hillside, though stepped, is nearly as steep as a house roof – truly The Hanging Gardens of Scarthin.

Good second-hand books continue to flow in, with a large collection of scholarly texts in Classical Greek (or should I say Hellenic Greek) and Latin – both Loeb’s Classical Library and Oxford editions. We are slowly working into an exceptional library of reference and inspirational books concerned with collectible antique furniture, clocks, porcelain and fine art. Volumes from this and other sources will appear on our shelves and on our website.

Ironically, we have chosen this epoch for Dave to finally give in to pressure swap the Children’s Bookroom and theArt Room, which will give Children’s and Teen Books almost twice the floorspace and will make it possible to have children’s and teen book events while the shop is actually open. It will be sad to lose the quiet atmosphere of the Art Room, or at least to compress it into a smaller space, but to keep the shelvage up we will probably open up the legendaryly crammed Ivan’s Room as a Music Room. WHEN will we have time to do all this, one wonders. Answer, before the Summer Holidays I suppose it must be.

April 2010

April this year (Tulips photo kindly sent us by John Hillmer – any gremlin is an artefact of our image-manipulation) lacked Chaucer’sshowers so sweet, being dry almost to its end, but cruelly took away our Freda Bayles, who had worked for us for some twenty years, starting in 1978 (I think). Freda remained a friend after she retired; for some years we paid her subscription to the presently defunct (but, stop-press May 2010, there is hope of a re-opening) New Bath hotel Swimming Club, and she continued to pop in frequently and to attend the Bookshop Christmas Dinner until, one Christmas in Hodgkinson’s Hotel she passed out from the strain of heating and eating, adding a paramedic to our party and keeping Kathy up at the hospital until half way through the night. Dave and Kathy purchased her 9-year-old but as-new classic metallic blue Volvo, and might have it still but for neglecting to renew the timing chain. A beast to steer, mind. As the years passed and Freda moved from the closed Matlock College Bookshopbranch, her meticulous nature caused some friction with Dave, the proprietor, who, trying to slink unnoticed through the shop after picking up children from school would invariably be halted in his tracks by Dave, may I stop you in your tracks a minute, followed by the pointing out of a collapsing shelf or an unanswered phonecall, a you might know the answer impossible customer query or a publisher demanding payment of a preposterously large invoice. She was a sort of personified conscience. Freda was brought up in Matlock Bath, worked for a time at Foyles as a young trainee until perfunctorily dismissed by Miss Foyle at the moment they would have had to start paying her the full rate. She found Miss Foyle, as one might expect, unlikeably ruthless, though she did experience several memorable literary lunches. Returning to Matlock Bath with her step-father she helped run his photography business and looked after his trying self in his latter years. After he died. she had the freedom to become involved inMatlock Bath Parish Council, where her knowledge of the old village was a great interest and where she helped in the purchase of the Rabbit Field. She fell at home after a major stroke, but was quickly found by Mike Greenham. Nick the Vic, ex-bookshop colleague Joyce Copeland, close friend Alice, myself and other friends visited her in hospital, where she died, blessedly, without regaining consciousness. Mike and Janet Ede spoke eloquently at her funeral in Holy Trinity, Matlock Bath church and Dave raised a laugh with some of the above.

On Thursday April 8th. our great friend and supporter Andrea McKeown died at the LOROS Hospice near Leicester. She had been living with cancer for some three years, experiencing the effects of both the illness and its treatment, but with substantial stretches of almost normal life. For a local poetry-reading group, she had compiled Ten Good Things about Having Cancer. With her husband Bob Tench, she was able to keep active, walking and cycling, until within three weeks of her death. Andrea and Bob McTench (as they styled themselves) were founder members of the Cafe Philosophique some fifteen years ago after we met at a lecture on science and theology given by Hugo Meynell in Kirk langley Church. One of those chance meetings arising out of a mutual interest in philosophy but also because we all had indirect connections to the Meynell family – networks are the key to getting an audience together. Andrea and Bob have been our most distantly-living regular attendees (not that it takes long from Loughborough), always arriving early enough to bag their regular corner of the round table (don’t be pedantic). Andrea was very seriously interested in philosophy, having studied it at Bangor University but nevertheless retaining a thirst for working things out, a talent for steering conversation into deep channels and a disconcerting way of pulling you up at loose connections in your argument, without causing offence. Tall and brought up with brothers, she was apparently quite a daredevil too, with a penchant for rapid downhill cycle-swooping.Friends’ tales of youth-hostelling, cycle-camping and hitch-hiking, with short shorts and long sun-tanned legs in the sixties were particularly evocative of an age that I hope still lives on for our children and grandchildren, even if in an outwardly different form. Bob and Andrea are well-known in tandem circles in Leicestershire, and the subject of several true funny stories, involving fords and how a stoker can slip off the back without a by-your-leave. Andrea’s Wake on a dazzling Spring day at the cricket club was thronged with lovely overlapping circles of friends and family (Mother, Brother, first Husband and Sons) and became the sort of This is your Life celebration that she should have been there to appreciate – but we can’t do things that way. Andrea, who gave two talks herself, disapproved of the taking of cake off the menu at the Cafe Philosophique, so at the next event (Matt Carr’s do on Saturday 15th May) we shall EAT CAKE IN HER MEMORY.

March 2010

World Book Day was marked by special events at several of the primary and secondary schools we supply – Wirksworth Infants School was particularly active. We are now (and for the forseeable future) redeeming your World Book Day Vouchers here, either for one of the several, very different, %pound;1 World Book Day Books, which are slim but excellent, or as a contribution to another book. You are NOT allowed to search the playground for discarded vouchers and cash them all for the Gutenberg Bible.That’s enoughstrong, font color=”red” to be going on with.

2010 is the centenary of the death of the long-lived and long-influential Florence Nightingale, born to the land-owning family in the adjoining village of Lea and a frequent visitor to neighbouring families in Cromford. There is to be a serries of events and exhibitions to celebrate her life – we illustrate the poster for the first, a one-day school on Saturday 24th. April, just round the corner at Masson Mill. More links, etc., to follow. Attempts to upload the poster have inexplicably failed – email Pat Smedley.

February 2010

Snow fails to disrupt Filming

At 7.25 on Sunday morning (21st. Feb.), Dave, pyjama’d and cup of tea in hand, padded down to the bookshop door. Amazingly, Andrew Rokita was already outside in the falling snow, eager to start filming The Adventures of Milos H. Part IV, The Book that Wanted to go Home, part IV of a trilogy (c.f. Spike Milligan’s memoirs) following the adventures of Milos H., a ten-year-old Polish immigrant finding his feet in England, but mixing realism with magic, or so it seemed on Sunday morning, as I conversed on the pavement with a mad monk waiting to make his entry. All, seemingly including a haunted book that acts as a key to the mysticalNorthlands, may soon be revealed after several months of editing have transformed Sunday morning’s many takes, eased by the administering of honey to a young actress with a sore throat. Fortunately for the film crew and actors, but not for the bookshop, the snow seriously diminished the number of customers who picked their way over the cables and under the lights as we opened at noon. Based in the Derby area, the film-makers Theodore Entertainment are an independent media company with strongPolish connections – the dialogue was bilingual. Alas, I can’t remember much of the Polish I mugged up for an extended romantic wander through the then communist-controlled country in 1965! A strange atmosphere in those days – was I on an alien planet? Everyone, however open and relaxed-seeming at first, had to watch their backs – OFSTED might pounce at any moment.
Haven’t seen the Head around this morning, have you?
SHHHHH!! We don’t talk about him any more!

I don’t actually think this is a joke, either.

After the snow and social enterprise storms of January, things are back to the normal level of unpredictability at the bookshop. Second-hand books are flowing in again and Dave’s chequebook has been called out frequently. Recent purchases include a lovely small collection of Folio Society volumes, a strong collection of Modern Philosophy and some uncommon biographies of great scientists, including Newton, and a few works concerning the 17th. Century Royal Society – not to mention four actual 17th. Century quartos, largely theological and in need of discrete TLC. You may spot some of the scientific history items in our rare booklist -or contact John, who is usually in on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays – though he finds the work so interesting we can hardly keep him away.

Philosophique Reading Group. The first subject is EVIL, and the required reading is Mary Midgeley’s lucid balancing act Wickedness, though you are free also to pile into Evil in Modern Thought by Susan Neiman. Turning up at the bookshop for 7.30 on Tuesday March 23rd. without having tried to read either will be judged according to some moral system or other. Both can be obtained from the bookshop, 10% off. Incidentally, Dave and others yearn for some Hard Science (as opposed to hard philosophy), as in the days of the Derbyshire branch of the British Association. I would very much like to sponsor occasional lectures on scientific subjects of interest to or importance for a demanding lay audience – but need help in getting such off the ground.

January 2010

So, touch-wood, Cromford Post Office lives on. Carol has agreed to stay on for six months, but she does need the organisation of some means of relief from what has been a five and a half-day job without lunchbreaks or paid holidays. The most recent Radio Derby interviews referred to the intended purchaser of the building as Mystery Buyer, and, believe it or not, the mystery has been maintained even on the village grapevines I’m connected to. There are still plenty of meetings going on in Cromford – two last week concerning the Cromford Map Project and the Midsummer fete, Celebrating Cromford. Contributions to both are sought.

Save Cromford Post Office Campaign and Prospective Company

The destructive pressure on both public and private local institutions continues unabated. No doubt centralisation, UK economic decline and the internet are contributing factors. In Matlock Bath, the District Council has decided it cannot afford to modernise and maintain the Matlock Bath Pavilion, with its theatre and exhibition spaces and Mining Museum. In Cromford, our well-used and efficient little Cromford Post Office – the only one left in eleven miles of the Derwent Valley between overstretched Matlock and Belper – is supported by Royal Mail, but has proved unsaleable in three years. I blame the banks and building societies and their reluctance or refusal to lend on mixed heraditaments even though these “live-over-the-shop” premises supply both a home and a chance of some income. I had enough trouble buying the Bookshop years ago and someone will presumably have even more trouble selling it, one day. Everywhere, shops and workshops are becoming houses and flats. The Germans have a term for Britain these days: Ein Land in Ruhestand.
A determined campaign is now being mounted around Cromford, Matlock Bath and Bonsall to form a comunity company to buy the premises and lease out the post office and two flats.We are consulting Community Buy-out groups. Above is displayed the leaflet for a meeting on Friday 22nd. January in the Methodist Church, Water Lane, which was, as the photograph shows, a full house. The meeting overturned by popular pressure the original idea of asking for shares of a fixed sum, £3500 being that proposed, and so now we are asking for pledges of whatever you can afford. Something between £1000 and £7000 is our suggestion. All the pledge forms were filled in or taken away as people left and by (late) breakfast time on Saturday, just over £100,000 had been pledged. An amazing achievement for a campaign just one week old. Watch this space! Pledge forms can be picked up from several shops or pubs in Cromford and Bonsall, or by e-mailing, phoning or calling at the Bookshop. If you might be interested in pledging a share (actual money is not yet required and the pledge is a statement of intent and not legally binding), then some of your questions may be answered by CLICKING HERE 
Updated late Saturday 23rd January


STOP PRESS Monday 18th. January Now that the snow has nearly gone, I’m getting worried. Perhaps I was wrong. If anyone slips on our cleared pavements, we may be responsible. So this morning I set about replacing the missing snow, which involves mounting a shuttle snow-transport between Scarthin and Bonsall Park, at an altitude where the snow still lies deep. I was already too late to prevent two staff members taking a tumble on their way into work, but John and Phil fortunately for me (but disappointingly for them, perhaps) sustained no objectively evaluatable injuries. I had intended to add some fallen leaves to the mix, just to make doubly sure we weren’t doing our dangerous duty, but am informed that leaf-mould is a waste product, so you need a licence to transport it. Work continues to Thwart the Thaw.

The SNOW, both before and after Christmas, has hit our sales hard.Our over-the-counter sales records for the last thirty-five years can easily be consulted, and snowy days stand out starkly. In the early, pre-inflation days it would be a sudden fall in sales from, say, £60 per day to £7.45 – and so it continues, though both figures would now be much higher. When I get time, I’ll put up one or two nice pictures of our local snow, and of one of Dave and neighbours’ six or more clearances of the SCARTHIN PAVEMENTS, certainly the clearest I’ve seen in the Matlock area, where most shopkeepers are either too busy or too lazy or have swallowed the urban myth of “if anyone falls over on your cleared path, you’ll be responsible when they sue.” Or maybe it’s just that most shops are chain stores and no-one takes resposibility or cares enough.

Further observations and interviews during the first two weeks of January indicate that not only has theDont Clear the Snow – You’ll be Sued” urban myth actually saturated the population of Matlock (and therefore Britain), but that people have actually swallowed and acted (or rather not acted) on this….drivel…I restrain myself. All is Lost. Britain is irreversibly decadent, our slide down the ever-steepening cliff cannot be halted.

Enough ranting – Scarthins’:


runs from FRIDAY 15th. JANUARY until SUNDAY 31st. JANUARY. We are sorting out a great deal of duplicate and other reducible stock together with slightly shop-soiled items and reducing them by 50% or more. These will be piled on tables. All the rest of our shop stock is reduced too, NEW BOOKS, CARDS,CD’s. Etc. by 10%, SECOND HAND BOOKS by 20%. Maybe we’ll leave the 50p books at 50p, on the dubious grounds that they are not actually INthe shop. On the opening day, Friday 15th. January, it is RAINING, so, no excuses, You can get here! The picture dates from before Christmas; there are TWO clear tracks up the road to our clear pavements now.

December 09

Nemesis Catching Up? Chickens coming home to Roost on Sword of Damocles

Disturbing news from Derby Crown Court is hidden away on one of our outermost webpages.

Jam Tomorrow ?

We finally display a picture of Emily, Joolz, Wendy and Guy striving to shift (or derail?) our new SLIDING BOOKCASE, which has given our (new) paperback fiction shelves some more desperately-needed room. I remember something similar at the compact Birmingham University Bookshop on the Edgbaston Campus. The design makes up-ended use of sliding-garage-door technology. Long may it endure.

Joolz is now serving her

Christmas Special Dinner

Available MONDAYS TO FRIDAYS ONLY, we can’t manage it on Saturdays and Sundays. The menu is a slight adaptation of last year’s.

There are three courses; GF means Gluten-Free, VE means Vegan.

Soup of the Day £3.75


Mushroom Tart or Nut Roast (GF & VE) with Onion Marmalade Gravy (GF or VE) £6.95

Served with Roast Potatroes & Peas


Christmas Pudding (GF & VE available) with Cream or Ice Cream (VE available) £:3.00


Or all three courses for just £13.00


Advance notice of the Amnesty International Wirksworth Branch annual Send a Message of Hope evening session writing Christmas cards/messages to detainees, from 7.30 until 9.30 on Tuesday 8th. December, accompanied by mulled wine and mince pies. The bookshop will be open to all, and we are taking this opportunity to extend our evening openings to Tuesday 15th December and Tuesday 22nd. December, in each case straight through to 9 p.m. or a later if needed on the day.

From the beginning of this month (if not earlier) we shall be upping the generosity of our Loyalty Scheme. We shall be giving out one £1 Scarthin Voucher, redeemable on a future purchase in shop or cafe, to anyone spending £20 or more in the shop (as previously), but then another £1 for every further £10 spent (rather than for every further £20 as previously). Purchases from our rare and fine booklists on this website and ABE are not included.
Mathematicians will note that:
as expenditure E the value of the vouchers, p 10% of E

Do not be tempted to attempt to verify this assertion.

November 09

Ivan Sendall has died after some three years of cancer teatment and remissions

Ivan, here pictured in “The Ivanry”, worked at Scarthin Books from 1996 until 2009, valuing and pricing antiquarian and second-hand books. Trained at Derby College of Art, he worked previously at Swanston Graphics in Derby (drawing maps for The Times Atlas of World History among other projects). We got to know him through an erstwhile Swanston colleague Pam Butler, who brought him in to design covers for our publications. He might need coaxing, but once fired would produce visuals with an artist’s elan and flare. Another local friend, since Art College days, Nigel Griffiths, has been a great support during his illness. After Swanston Graphics closed, Ivan failed, or rather refused, to keep up-to-date with computer-aided graphics, but we soon realised that he had other skills badly needed in the bookshop. His presence was a vital help during an acute illness of Kathy and Dave’s baby daughter Clare.

Ivan climbed many Munros and was a keen follower of motorsport, particularly at Donnington, owning a troubled Morgan and latterly a red Alfa. His knowledge of books, as well as of prints, maps and paintings, came from years of haunting auctions. He had a prodigious memory for detail in all these fields. Ivan was sensitive and easily offended, but good company and made friends among our customers. His home life, where until recently he looked after a near-centenarian strong-willed father, he kept private. At Scarthin he had lots of scope for exercising his talent for mimicry and for a while used to stay over and go down to The Boat for a couple or more pints and a cigar on Tuesday nights. After becoming too ill to work he accepted help from Nigel and one or two other close friends, but did not want gifts or visits from others who, he thought (probably rightly) would be making themsleves rather than him feel better. He coped with the inevitable progression of his illness partly through black humour: The next time you see me, I’ll be the one in the box. Like many here, Ivan was a talented, individualist refugee from more conventional employment, and his personality will be long remembered among staff and customers.

Ivan’s funeral is being held in Cromford Church (between Cromford Mill and the River Derwent, parking opposite, train station across the Bridge) at 10.30 a.m. on Thursday 10th. December.
Nov. 23rd 2009

The Christmas Table in the Art Room has now been set up, to provide more room for potential Christmas Presents, if slightly less floor space for customers! Calendars and diaries have barged in, obscuring some of the bookcases. This is about the only seasonal trend-following that we do here -apart, it must be admitted, from Christmas evening openings (8th,15th,22nd. December), anxious advertising and the issuing of mince pies and home-adapted liquers on Christmas Eve, when at 6 p.m. we are almost the last to close. Oh yes, there will be decorations and lights, some Christmas food in the cafe Philosophiqueentitled Marx The Man and his Thought given by David Furness, on Saturday 21st. November attracted an attendance of 18, about ideal for the room and for discussion. Dave’s talk was extremely fluent and carefully structured – brief notes on Marx’s life, then clearly distinguished sections on his conributions to Philosophy, History and Economics (N.B. not Politics!!). Much of the audience initial admitted to considering themselves members of the Petit Bourgeoisie, but found themselves re-classified as Working Class on the grounds that they lived by selling their labour.

The evening was introduced by satirical left-wing songs and illustrated frequently with concrete examples, particularly of those hard to grasp concepts of Marxist Materialism and Dialectics. I am left (actually I am probably right but don’t like to admit it; at least I don’t call myself Labour) at least temporarily, with a much clearer notion of original Marxism (though the later Marx apparently insisted he was not a Marxist). Among others in the audience, James Eaden made sigficant contributions and asserted that, now that global capitalism has outgrown the part-socialist western democracies, Marx is making a comeback, with many groups reading their way through his and Engels’ works. David Furness was asked to name a successful Marxist society, past or present, and replied that the Process was the thing, and that all such regimes had succeeded in some areas while failing in others. It seemed to be agreed that the contrasting free market economics currently in the ascendent (or only just in the descendent) was severely compromised by its grossly simplifying assumptions regarding the motivation of economic behaviour and the power of advertising and convention. Marx’s categories were also questionably relevant- perhaps ahead of their time when he wrote and behind the times now. There was disagreement among the audience about the definitions and relationship of materialism andidealism both in Hegel’s philosophy and at the present time. I suspect that the capitalist (or petit bourgeois) proprietor of the bookshop may have been guilty of expropriating Surplus Value in not distributing CAKE to the company, following the main course. The outline text of the talk will soon (counting from 23.1.09) be found on Les Hurst’s Philosophique page or via the general introduction on our own website.

The illustrations shows an interval where eating had replaced talking and listening though (perhaps) not thinking.

All our SECOND-HAND FOREIGN-LANGUAGE BOOKS, apart from valuable items in our rare book list, are housed in the OUTBACK, or Shy Pianists’ Room, reached, via steps and two right-angled right turns, from the extension to our cafe (known as The Ivanry – Ivan used to price up books there- or The Vineyard), as a vine is trained, or rather untrained, overhead).In The Outback Dave has finally managed to clear the floor and to reveal all the shelves and even the PIANO.There are presently some 1600 volumes, the great majority inFrench or German, but with 50+ volumes in Russian (which used to be widely taught), Italian and Spanish(surprisngly few), and in the Scandinavian languages taken together, with sparse and variable representataion of Dutch, Japanese, Hungarian and the Slavonic tongues.
The piano has had a rough life, moved to more and more remote parts of the building, often either damp or blistered by the sun, but has proved robust and is kept in reasonable tune. There is a somewhat metallic It’s Dave’s Mum’s Waddington Bremar Model 2 of circa 1920, with a not very romantic tone, but has variously inspired three generations. At quiet times, i.e. most of the time in this room, customers are encouraged to play the piano; it needs the excercise. If you shut the door you will offend no-one and be audible only in the adjacent secret garden.

October 09

Apple Day Saturday October 17th.

Once again it seems that we have FRIENDS IN DRY PLACES , for the Saturday afternoon was dry with much sunshine, for the fifth year (or more) in a row. Once again, a large and appreciative crowd of participators and onlookers enjoyed the spectacle and produce of three apples presses (Pat Reid brought her’s too) and applauded the music and dancing provided by Highfields School Friday Night Group of Folk fiddlers and flautists, led by Wendy Grady, and the rumbustious Ripley Morris . Ripley Morris decided to dance in the road, thus Stopping the Mighty Roar of Scarthin’s Traffic (for those whose long memories can recollect the reference). One of their dances can be watched on a video taken by a friend I know as The Belper Anarchist. Of particular interest this year was the Matlock Greenpeace stall, manned by brightly-baldricked (?) volunteers, among them Janet, who was out on bail after climbing onto the roof of the Houses of Parliament to draw attention to perceived slow progress towards the Copenhagen climate summit. Janet told us how the operation had gone perfectly. They had expected perhaps half of the protesters to make it to the roof before the police moved in. In fact they ALL got up, and she had difficulty finding a policeman to whom to report their peaceful intentions. On Apple Day, the Greenpeace emphasis was on collecting supporters for the attempt to disrupt any attempt to buy the land for the proposed Third Heathrow Runway by owning a piece of the site, on which, appropriately, an Orchard is to be planted. Some twenty or more of us signed up asbeneficial owners of the plot, which has thus been thickened. Easy for me,Dave, to adopt the high moral (and common sense) ground on airports – I have NEVER flown in a commercial airliner. The Grand Canyon, Hanging Rock, Machu Picchu and Everest Basecamp have never had the privilege of setting eyes on me. Back in Cromford, Apple Day was again a heart-warming experience -and busy in the shop and cafe; we shall be making contributions to the groups involved or their sponsored charities.

The following saturday, 24th. is the date for the next meeting of the Philosophique when Brian Stone will be telling us something (but which?) about POPULATIONNN .

Finally, for the moment, after 35 years of wall-to-wall, 24/7 work and idleness, Dave is starting his two-month SABBATICAL, so things may go up- (or down-) hill. I shall still be prisable-out of the background to pay too much for antiquarian or rare collections.

September 09

The NEW YEAR begins on September 1st., with the usual rush of events. On Friday 11th. September, we sponsored a debate on the motion The Risk that Green Policies will harm the Third World should take precedence over their Likely Benefits. This took place in the Imperial Rooms, Matlock, and was attended by rather fewer of the usual supects than we would have liked. David Jones, opposing Evan Rutherford, comprehensively won the evening in the view of most present. He memorably quoted from memory:Crisis+Leadership=Action. The trouble is that not only does the UK suffer from a lack of effective leadership, but also, as illustrated by the low turnout, we still do not feel any sense of crisis. Evan will try again to put over his maverick erudition at 7.30 on Thursday 24th. September in the Back Bar of the Hope and Anchor, Wirksworth, the subject being DOWN WITH EVERYTHING, a study of extremism as exemplified by Puritan rule in 17th. Century Wirksworth and its relevance to today’s political conflicts and controversies. The talk will be interrupted by the singing of satirical songs from four centuries, in which your truly, Dave Mitchell, will have a voice.

Advance Notice of APPLE DAY, which will take place on Saturday afternoon, 17th. October, this year, and of a Cafe Philosophique on the Elephant in the World POPULATION, 7.30 for 8 on Saturday 24th. October

August 09

Dave has been told Don’t buy any more GARDENING books!. A large collection of not the usual Television-presenter or Love of and Complete Book of type of books, but genuinely useful horticultural references from a professional and keen amateur downsizing. Lots more new stock has been bought and priced in the brief intervals between equally brief but joyful holidays. I THINK there may have been some good sheet music, some specialised history, oh yes, lots of P.G.Wodehouse; pre-war editions, but not that expensive – they won’t last long on the shelves. On holiday in Scotland’s Shangri La, in particular penetrating by kayak into the fastnesses of the matchless parish of ASSYNT , I visited what surely correctly claims to be Mainland Britain’s Most Remote BookshopAchins Bookshop, which, like Scarthin Books, feels as if it’s the centre of the world when you get there, though in a very different way. We swapped bookshop mugs. If you plan to visit, I can recommend the very civilised amenities of Inchnadamph Lodge. Click on any of these last three and you may get some idea of why I had to go back – after 25, 38 and 45 years – despite 1250 miles of driving crammed into 120 hours.

July 09

On Tuesday 7th., Graham Jones, accompanined by his son Ben, entertained a special non-abstract meeting of the Cafe Philosophique with his remiscences of the ups, but mainly the downs, of Tin Pan Alley, as recorded in his book Last Shop Standing. Several shopkeepers and an e-trader in historic Vinyl were present to challenge his analysis. It seems that the record shops that remain may be able to mount a recovery, perhaps with some vinyl mixed in, and, like specialist labels, will still be able to promote new rising stars before they are gobbled (and after they are spat out again) by the big international corporations.The disappearance of Woolworths and, if I’ve taken it in right, Virgin Megastores is helping. Maybe a sinking of Borders and/or Waterstones, already awash under the weight of debts, might help independent bookshops, though it is hard to see an end to the dominance of large businesses, with their buying and advertising power. The emphasis is shifting from prime-sited high-street chainstores to online retailers. It is interesting that an Oxford-Street rent for our premises in Cromford would be about £60,000; not surprising that bookshops are being driven out. It is interesting that, were this a chainstore branch, we would probably be trying to service a £half-million debt; not surprising that so many chains are going bust.

Second-hand collections include: Mining History, Harp Music and 20th.Century literary firsts, not to mention some Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Societyfrom the library ofJedediah Strutt. We are slowly working through some of the modern literature collection of Tom Evans, for many years editor of the journal of The Shaw Society and an internationally known Shavian scholar. For his obituary see this online Guardian article.( Most Shavian volumes had been donated to friends, colleagues and to the Society itself.)

June 09

Dennis Judd woz here on Thursday 11th. June, 5-7 p.m. to launch The Private Diaries of Alison Uttley. He tells us that foundation of an Alison Uttley Society is in the offing, with an associated website. In this collumn, the future lies ABOVE, so you may already know the outcome.

May 09

Corinna Horrobin died suddenly on Friday 22nd. May. She had been very ill with progressive kidney failure, but this had seemed to be under control by dialysis. Dropped off by the ambulance after a hospital appointment and grasping her keys, she sat down on the bench by her door and passed away. Corinna was an almost exact contemporary of proprietor Dave and and been with us since my eldest Rosie was born, 28 years ago. Corinna by then was becoming a grandmother and now has great grandchildren. Starting out as our cleaner, she gradually took on extra roles, not only helping out “in the house”, but also serving in the cafe when that opened some 15 years ago. Her scones are legendary and were made without any measuring or weighing of ingredients. Latterly she had become chief book-putter-out in the Children’s Bookroom, becoming expert at its intricate geography and keeping it in some order despite the busy hands of customers and very inconveniently shaped volumes. The most striking thing about Corinna was that she never stopped working. I don’t mean that she wasn’t happy to chat or gossip, but that this would always be a brief interlude with the job, literally, in hand. I don’t recall her ever taking a lunch or tea break. Working, doing something useful was what time was for. When she knocked off here, she would be going to another part-time job or to a family responsibility. When not at work, she was a pillar in her extended family, often simultaneously involved in looking out for the needs of five generations – from an Uncle or Aunt to a Great Grandchild. Her illness slowed her down but put no stop on all this work, and she remained determined to return to her various roles, though she had admitted this would be on a reduced scale. The cliches that’s the best way to go and she will be missed are surely true in the case of our Corinna. There will be a memorial service at 2.45 p.m. On Tuesday 2nd. June in the Methodist Chapel, off St. John’s Street, Wirksworth.

Talking of Spring, we show a photograph of Somewhere in Cromford, or more precisely Somewhere in Scarthin. Phone and e-mail hum with the sound of Spring-Cleaning.We’re just having a clear-out….well, a real mixture..some novels, biographies, history,gardening, cookery... Such collections, austerely thinned by Dave out on the Prom on Mondays and Saturday mornings, have been pouring in as usual, so the shop is full up with the cheap and cheerful and the fiction shelves are newly stocked withby the author of the shortlisted for the Orange/Booker/Whitbread/Carnegie Prize, theRunaway/International bestsellers, the Richard and Judy Best Summer Reads and other flavoursome novels. I have had time to price up about 160 books of modern poetry, not all of them byformerly poetry editor for Faber and Faber or even lives in London and works in Publishingauthors.

More scarce material we are scarcely finding time to value and work on includes a small collection ofModern First Editions in dustjackets including some Orwell, Greene and James (if he IS modern) and a fascinating and rarely matched collection of

Books on Iceland and in Icelandic/Old Norse


April 09

ALISON UTTLEY enthusiasts will be intrigued to learn that Dennis Judd, her biographer,in conjunction with Ronald Blythe has edited The Private Diaries of Alison Uttley, 320 page hardback ISBN 9781844680405, to be published on Thursday 21st. May at £25. Dennis will again be here to meet friends and fans on

Thursday 11th. JUNE, between 5 and 7 p.m.

– N.B. the changed date and time!! (again). Apologies for the change, but this time it’s final (I hope). If unsure ring 01629-823272 after 9.30 a.m. before setting out. There will be something of a discount, and light refreshments. You can also reserve a copy to pick up on the day or to be signed and kept/posted for you.
We have been shortlisted ( rather-longlisted, actually) for Independent Bookseller of the Year but have only run-up in the Northern and Midlands Region it seems. Well, what more can a hermit expect! Visiting hermits is a very spiritually rewarding experience!

March 09

What a great picture! The latest claimant of our UTTERLY UNFAIR TALL FATHERS’ BOOK PRIZE. Every (yes every) child of a father whose head touches the Utterly Unfair Tall Fathers’ Book Prize BEAM receives a (one-time only) £3 discount off books.Maybe it’s time we applied a retail-price escalator, up to £4 , or down to £2?. The van is still half full of the tumbled spoils of four “too many to bring” home visits, even though I had to leave lots behind, still cluttering up a garage and a living room floor. Ten boxes of music!!(much classical song and much waste paper). Among the books,a few unusual Ezra (too clever to be a good poet?) Pound volumes and an absurd quantity of highly illustratedCookery Books with an emphasis on the Orient and on Hot Spices. Meanwhile, brought in from a farm said to have been in the same family for 600 years a classic 19th.-century family collection – much Methody, but also a Barclay’s Dictionary, complete with its maps and illustrations.

Peter Robins of the Daily Telegraph approached us as part of his research on how well, or badly, the second-hand booktrade is weathering the recession. His widely-sourced and optimistic article appeared in the Saturday Review section (March 7th.) and can be read by clicking on the Telegraph website.

This week, Hugh Montgomery of the Independent on Sunday has asked us as one of our favourite Independent Bookshops to take our turn to nominate his Hit List of in-print books we are reading and would recommend, so Guy, David, Wendy, Phil, Les and myself (Dave) have sent him a short-list of a dozen to choose from. The ten they chose give a certain impression I’m not entirely happy with – but maybe I’m just hurt because the two they didn’t use were my choices – Nick Butcher’s Blood River and Simon Winchester’s River at the Centre of the World. Herrumph! Magic Mushrooms indeed! This is 2009 in Derbyshire, not 1971 in Totnes. Despite my chagrin, SUPPORT WOODPULP NEWSPAPERS, though I do wish the weekend ones had fewer pages (but still the bookish sections).AARGH! Cancell all the above – I’ve linked to our 2006 choice – all Guy’s I reckon – come back later when we’ve got things straight.

February 09

It turns out that our over-the-counter turnover, which in our case is a sort of tip-of-the-corkberg, for January was 1.7% up on 2008 – hardly significant statistically, but a lot better than a statistically significant decline. Thanks to our staff and to our customers; the former celebrated with disgusting cakes, as for the latter, well, we have just inaugurated our bookshop loyalty scheme (seeDecember, below) – and as you can see, we bend over backwards to be helpful.

A batch of second-hand carpentry, joinery and cabinet-makingbooks has just come in – and, very rare but very tattered, some Edwardian copies of the Times of India.

February’s snow has, of course slowed things down here, but I love it just the same – son Michael spent his birthday sledging and igloo building rather than at school – what more can you ask! The bookshop is only 300 ft. above sea-level and only a hundred yards from the A6 Derby to Matlock main road, and Derbyshire’s gritters are brilliant (I passed four in ten miles the other day), so we are never cut off however deep the snow lies on the surrounding 1100 ft. hills.

January 09

Hard Luck, the January Book Sale is now over, but Good Luck, all the deep-cut bargains remaining unsold (i.e.most of them) will find their way (with lots of help!) into the second-hand stock, which is very good value (though there are some over-priced items languishing on the high shelves).

We have just taken in a collection of Britain’s Most Unsaleable Books. Apart from, perhaps, the Rose Annual, the least saleable volumes have hitherto been Readers Digest Condensed Books, but we have gone one worse – we now have some sixty Readers Digest Condensed Books in German. I presume these would be unsaleable even in Germany, let alone here. If I am wrong, please, please get in touch. Apolostrophiges and apostrophologies re Readers.

A collection of very large and specialised books on SUGAR REFINING including several sets of the triennial Proceedings of the International Society of Sugar Cane Technologists (ISSCT) Congresses has just come in. Some are very rarely available, but perhaps also rarely wanted?

Having rather missed the Jute Bag Boat, or not wishing to join the bagwagon, we have instead begun to offer Large Strong Cloth Shopping Bags made from a range of attractive robust materials by adults with learning difficulties at the Parkwood Centre in Alfreton Park. They are £2 each, including VAT and (as at April 2009) are proving steadily popular.

December 08

This photograph of bare flesh, taken on December 11th, is not symptomatic of Global Warming (there were hard frosts before and after), but of the magical climate of Scarthin, a candidate for the title:

The Provence of the North

The hillside of Scarthin, at the foot of which the bookshop stands, is tipped at right angles to the rays of the midwinter sun, eliminating the cos(theta) effect. You can (almost) sunbathe at (almost) any time of year. In Spring and Summer, the rapidly draining limestone soil often completes the simulation of Jean-de-Florette-style droughts; I too implore the scorching heavens to rain (but not for the last two years). But what has the picture of my impervious friend Tony to do with bookselling? He is thinning the scrub to make way for the hens that eat the scraps and lay the eggs that make the cakes that feed us in the bookshop cafe. Guests here just love the work.

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL Wirksworth Branch held one of their Send a Message of Hopesessions at the Bookshop, with wine and mince pies on Tuesday 9 December.About a hundred cards were individually written to prisoners of conscience in locations including Burma and Guantanamo Bay.

The Christmas Table has now been set up to take the seasonal overflow of hardback and other books, and will remain in place until the New Year. Talking of Christmas, we apologise to the four in search of lunch on Friday the 12th., whom we failed to serve because our ovens were full of Christmas dinners. We will try to avoid a repetition. DJM

We are trying to have a holiday from second-hand and antiquarian buying during December, things are (or should be) just too busy. This does not mean that no new old books will apear on our shelves, as we have a large backlog to work through, and exceptions will force their way in. For instance, we have just shelved a substantial range of up-to-dateOxford Medical Handbooks, reduced to ten pounds each, and a considerable AVIATION COLLECTION has arrived and is being fed out when we have time and room. These books are almost entirely post-war publications, but include volumes of the PUTNAM histories of aircraft design and manufacture and other specialised works, particularly on second-world-war planes, campaigns, units and personnel.

After much soul- and pocket-searching Scarthin Books are intoducing an

Experimental Bookshop Customer Loyalty Scheme or Bookshop Loyalty Scheme

or should it be called a

Bookshop Customer Reward Scheme or Bookshop Reward Scheme

We are now handing out a durable, laminated £1 Scarthin Voucher for each twenty pounds spent in the shop. We are not issuing vouchers in the cafe, but they can be redeemed either in the bookshop or cafe against any purchase, without time limit. This applies to cash/cheque/card purchases over the counter, not to internet or invoiced sales and doesn’t involve you handing over your personal details or carrying yet another plastic card (yet!). Well, it makes us feel good and so far the vouchers have been accepted with delight rather than as if expected. By mid January we had issued hundreds, but very few had yet been redeemed. Is this some sort of Green Shield Stamp Syndrome?

The buying holiday has failed to deter a quantity of heavy (in both senses) up-to-date medical reference books coming in, to be priced at well below the new cost.

November 08

Jools is cooking special Vegetarian Christmas Dinners and/or Vegan/Gluten Free on weekdays from Monday 24th. November. Mouthwatering aromas of Chestnut and Mushroom Pie have been drifting down the stairs, and optionalApple Crumble is made from Scarthin garden apples – Crawley Beauty and Derbyshire’s own Newton Wonder varieties. If you are interested please telephone 01629-823272 or e-mail to enquire or book. Best to speak to Jools or Eve on a weekday. IF I have got round to it, the choice of menus can be found on the cafe page of this site.The Apple Crumble will feature our own garden-grown Newton Wonder and Crawley Beauty apples. We are at present processing ANOTHER bigclimbing/mountaineering collection, and are busy making room by reducing the shelvage allowed for Literary Criticism. Are we becoming a Hearty rather than an Aestheticbookshop??
Further additions to second-hand stock include a couple of shelves of archaeology, some lovely Stephen Jay Gould hardbacks and a stack of good piano music, including duets.
On Saturday 29th. June, 7 for 7.30, Geoff bagley will be introducing us to the Anthropic Principle and its implications for the Scientific Method and for notions of Multiverses. Usual 3 british-monetary-units admission includes a light savoury dish half way through.

October 08

Apple Day 2008

Apple Day this year was Saturday 18th. October. Once again, we were blessed with wonderful weather – a perfect sunny Autumn afternoon. Fairfield Nursery, Beano’s and Julian Brandram (links to follow if I get time) brought stalls of produce and samples, Pat and Andrew Reid and family brought musicians, the Well Dressed Band, (who practise in the Hathersage Bell Room) and another screw press, and Rick Allen brought his amazing combo of home-made Beam Press and mashing tub. All three presses were hard at it from 1 until after 5, often to the accompaniment of Appalachian and other foot-tapping music from the dozen (depleted, apparently!) musicians. There are still a lot of apples to be used up, and Rick is pressing at the Temple Hotel, Matlock Bath on Tuesday evenings until at least 28th. October. The pressed apple pulp is being fed to the pigs of Cromford and Middleton-by-Wirksworth, whose relish indicates that it still contains flavour and nourishment!

Modern Christian Books and Theological Reference

We have uplifted part of an extensive pastoral collection of books published or re-published within the last decade or so; almost all in immaculate condition and including commentaries, sermons and classic theological discussions from a wide range between the “wings” of the Anglican and Evangelical traditions. I’m ad-libbing here, I scarcely had time to glance at titles and the first ton is still out there in the van. We can’t even display most of this collection here at Scarthin. Is anyone interested in taking some from us in bulk, for a friendly price – what about you, Ian Blakemore?

Immaculate Contemporary Climbing Collection

A dedicated and possibly extreme climber is going travelling and has sold us some 500 climbing books, mostly published within the last forty years. The core of this collection is some 300 climbing and mountaineering memoirs by the greats, all in protected dustjackets and more or less mint. There are a few rare or signed editions, but the majority have been priced at between 6 and 10 pounds not so sterling. An opportunity to acquire modern classics as new but at post-crunch prices. There are also a good number of climbing guides – but these are of course well used! See both our shelves and rare book list.

September 08

Mensa Brain Boosts Scarthin

We are pleased to announce that we have among us the BRAIN OF MENSA 2008, namely Les Hurst . Les, hitherto known merely as the Brain of Ilkeston applies his erudition and style to the description of many of our Rare Book List volumes (also available via ABE) and to aspects of our accounting system, which demands a suprisingly large segment of his spare storage capacity and will, I hope, dazzle the Excise and the Inland Revenue. Les won the title in the final round held this last Sunday, 21st In Liverpool, by clicking on which you get linked to the Liverpool Daily Post’s Report and, ultimately to Liverpool City of Culture. Today, Wednesday 24th. we celebrated in the Vineyard with the traditional tea and disgusting sticky cakes, bought in from the Arkwright Stores as our own bake are too wholesome.

Our trusty author of Journey from Darkness,namely Gordon Ottewell will be here from 2 until 4 on Saturday 27th. September to launch and sign copies of his autobiographical

Memoirs of a Misfit Miner

July and August were busy months, slightly up on last year, so the fiction shelves have been heavily raided. We are trying to refill them in time for the new academic-year reading lists. I keep slipping a few more poultry books in from an extensive collection in store and in addition we have now had in a selection of very select books on fany breeds of fowl, inlcuding three different edition’s of Lewis Wright‘s great volume. A somewhat distressed collection from a dynasty of furniture-makers is on the shelf or on the net, likewise a coiple of shelves of science and scientific speculation by such as Penrose, Pais, Bohm, Smoot, Lorenz, Feynman, Rees, Davies, Gribbin and oh, I nearly forgot, Einstein. We have also put out a fair range of books from the 40’s to the 70’s on motor-racing (Bira Era), canals (Pilkington Ilk) and railways(Nock-nacks?), mostly lacking dustwrappers/jackets and therefore inexpensive. Towards the other end we have been fondling a beautiful and 2000-folio(quarto?)-page two-volume Gaelic Dictionary from 1829.Should I replace my trustyDwelly? Oh, and yes, some volumes of OUP’s Discoveries in the Judaean Desert will be appearing on this site, mostly concerning Qumran Cave 4.

July 08

Don’t Store your Books in the Garage!!

We have just taken in a couple of hundred books on yachting – from the design of boats to the techniques of sailing to narratives of exploration – including a number of classics, BUT, while all those precious Reader’s Digest books, Roget’s Thesaurus, Crossword Dictionaries and BBC Tie-ins were safely immured in the study, the Sailing Collection was shelved with the Boat itself, – IN THE GARAGE. At least they were not piled on the concrete floor (fatal in one winter), but the damp brieze-block wall has mildewed many of the covers – so you may find some good titles at low prices, reflecting their condition. We have been sneered at for shelving among our stock books in less than “VG” condition, but I have always prefered to offer interesting material at a low price than not at all.

June and July were so hectic with events – book launches and signings, Independent Booksellers’ Week and Celebrating Cromford (The Village Fete) that none of these were mentioned here. August should be busy in the shop, providing the weather is suitably wet, but events really recommence in September.

April 08

Today, 2nd. April 2008, Dave will be attending the funeral of


whose First Loves we published in 1985.

First Loves is a collection of very short stories woven around the Victorian dolls that Miss McCrea collected. She claimed to have collected the stories too but, if so, she transmuted them into a classic shape. Had they not been so powerful, we would not have published a volume so far from our usual local studies area. Using contemporary colour and black-and-white illustrations, we produced the book in the format of an 1890’s slim hardback with coloured-illustrated unlaminated paper-covered boards, as if Printed in Bavaria by chromolithography.A very few copies remain in stock here at £10. We may post something more on Lilian’s life and works at some stage. In the meantime, First Loves is a sleeper awaiting discovery and due celebration.

Meanwhile, on the revived publishing front, Professor Keith Sherwin’s updated work on Human-powered Flight entitled Pedal Powered Planes is now available from ourselves or other booksellers at £8.95. Walk the Peak with Rod Dunn our new and spectacular photograpic celebration of the Peak, with fascinating route/natural history/climbing/history text by Rod arrived, weighed in at one and a quarter tons for the consignment, on Friday 30th. November, in time to make enlightened (i.e. rather few) outlets before Christmas. A beautiful large-format hardback at £19.99. Also now available, published as a slim buckram-bound volume in Morgan Green is The Collected Poems of Charles Morgan edited by Peter Holland, £12, while The Derbyshire Portway Pilgrimage to the Past by Stephen Bailey, in paperback at £6.95, should be available in June

As I update, the daffodils King Alfred in the windowboxes are still at their spectacular best; fully out for Easter and kept fresh by the cool, showery weather. The scarlet (or are they crimson?) Apeldoorn tulips are impatient to take their place. This last winter’s experimental use of SNOWDROPS in the windowboxes looked great from INSIDE the shop, though hardly noticeable from outside; we shall certainly try them again.I think I will have to do a “Whimsies” feature on our rather individual windowbox policy.

March 08

At last a few NEW pictures, including Berlie Doherty and Caroline Pitcher launching their new children’s books in the Cafe

(Click for larger Images)

Jan 08

Readers are strongly advised NOT to visit the bookshop before Friday 11th. January as then begins our annual sale, a very much living fossil of ye olde National Book Sale of the days of the Net Book Agreement. We are selling ALL new books at 10% off and all our second-hand books at 20% off, with the exception of our ABE/Website rare books, though we will be more than usually sympathetic to requests for discounts on these. P.S. LOTS of overstocks (mainly duplicates and shop-soiled) are 50-75% off. The sale continues untilincl ( a new word= USA “through”Sunday 27th. january.

Dec 08

We just managed to get the geraniums out of our windowboxes before the first 5 degree frost of Monday/Tuesday 10/11th. December, replacing them with this year’s experiment in winter window flowers: SNOWDROPS.Today (8th. January) they are flowering delicately and look well from INSIDE the shop, though invisible from outside! Last year’s experiment was Helleborus foetidus, with its cascading leaves and bright yellow-green flowers, a limestone plant that grows wild in the woods round here. It was very noticeable, but untidy and needing lots of water. Like HONESTY, which we put out between tulips and geraniums in the Spring, this species does not like being uprooted, even when grown in pots sunk into the ground. I think I will have to do a “Whimsies” feature on our rather individual windowbox policy.

Nov 07

In October a works outing visited the Metro Cinema, now at Derby University, to see AND WHEN DID YOU LAST SEE YOUR FATHER?, starring Jim Broadbent, Colin Firth and Juliet Stevenson, much of which was shot in and around Scarthin, with the Bookshop by no means invisible. We are only real these days when we are virtual! After a shaky start, the film proved gripping and moving.If you missed it, well, it seems to have vanished off the face of the earth; not really box-office, I suppose. It needs to do well at Cannes to reappear. Otherwise, we’ll get the DVD.

BOOKS -what new among the old? A considerable collection on West African culture, history, language, peoples and agriculture is slowl being fed onto the shelves and onto AbeBooks. A shelf of paperback Pevsners appeared at the weekend and we are fighting off enormous Railway collections – perhaps TOO successfully.

October 07

Apple Day 2007 took place on Saturday 20th. October, a heavenly day, with an over-run on Sunday afternoon. For now, I’ll leave the rest of the details as they were before the event; just change the tenses. See the Common Ground Website for what’s on here and elsewhere try clicking on: Apple Day Events. This year, there will be several stalls, includingJulian Brandram with some apple varieties to taste and discuss and Beano’s Organic Produce. We are pleased to welcome a folk band, the Friday Night Group from Highfields Schoolin Matlock, with their fiddle and flute jigs and reels. It is said that a “mystery shopper” from ( here it is again) Common Ground will be mingling with the crowd!