Just by looking at our mailing list we know that Fidra Books has lots of overseas readers and we also know that given UK postage prices, ordering from us from overseas is not inexpensive.  So we were delighted to see that Kieron Smith, one of the founders of The Book Depository (subsequently goggled up by the Evil Empire), has now set up The Best Little Bookshop – aiming to provide all the benefits of an independent bookshop in an online environment.  All their prices are shown including international postage so no nasty surprises at the check out.

As a former bookshop owner I would naturally dispute that an online retailer can even hope to match a good bookshop but I like what he’s doing, I know that Kieron is a bookseller to his core and I love the way they’re curating their range. It’s only just launched and is in beta-testing at present but to the best of my knowledge everything’s going smoothly.

The benefit to our overseas customers is that due to their economies of scale, The Best Little Bookshop can ship overseas for less that we can. You may need to change the currency in the top right of the screen but I suspect the site does it automatically depending on your location – my tech knowledge doesn’t extend that far!  So, if you’ve been rationing your purchases, now’s your chance to snap up some of the titles you’ve missed out on!  You can read more about the Best Little Bookshop here and here’s our page with details of all our books.

 

Four Plus Bunkle by M Pardoe

This is the first in the ‘Bunkle’ series about the de Salis family, in which we meet Jill, Robin and Bunkle, so named by his brother and sister because they say he talks such a lot of bunk. They are having an average sort of holiday: Bunkle is infuriating his older siblings, and the most important thing any of them have to think about is the hotel tennis tournament.  Then their mother is called away, their governess is taken ill and they find an injured British Secret Service Agent in the hotel, who charges them with taking top secret papers to their father who is also in the Intelligence Service.

There follows a race across France and Switzerland, helped by Dick and Jean Fraser, who first appeared in The Far Island, and together they overcome all sorts of obstacles in their mission to deliver the secret documents.

I love this book – it was where I first encountered the completely unsquashable Bunkle and I immediately wanted to add these books to our list. I hope you’ll enjoy it too. Its official publication date is the 10th October but we will have copies from the 1st October so if you would like to pre-order you can do so here.

Jill's Riding Club by Ruby Ferguson

Jill’s Riding Club by Ruby Ferguson

“Starting a riding club seemed like a good idea at first.  But then the bossy Clarissa Dandleby joins, the Intimidating Major Hooley scares off some of the members and Miss Durdon takes over as President in return for letting the club use her field.  Suddenly it all seems a lot less like fun for Jill and her friends.  Will champion show-jumper Captain Cholly-Sawcutt’s help and the riding club’s own gymkhana save the summer holidays?

Jill’s Riding Club, fifth in the series is our next title and is currently at the printers.  It will be delivered in a couple of weeks and pre-ordered copies will be sent out by the end of the month.  It’s one of my favourites of the series and I’m looking forward to seeing what readers new and old think of it.

If you’d like to pre-order you can do so here

 

Following the sad death of Josephine it was cheering to hear that her life was to be commemorated by Radio 4′s obituary programe, Last Word.  I was asked to talk about my memories of her and the pony book in general and the marvellous Jilly Cooper also contributed her thoughts.  You can listen to it here.

It is with great sadness that we have to inform our customers that Josephine Pullein Thompson, author of Six Ponies, Pony Club Team and many more titles that exemplified the 20th century pony book phenomenon.  Six Ponies was one of my very favourite titles as a child and I still have my battered Armada paperback copy. It wasn’t until about ten years or so ago when I laid hands on a first edition from 1946 that I realised how brutal the editing by Armada had been.

When we set up Fidra Books, Josephine was one of our first authors and I was delighted to meet her.  I went to her house for afternoon tea and we had a delightful time talking about books, horses and generally putting the world to rights.  Less mobile than she used to be she’d also recently taken possession of a mobility scooter, nicknamed The Silver Lady, and she was conjecturing about how fast it could go if she went up to the park and really opened her up. You can take the thoroughbred hunters away from the woman but you’ll never take away the joy of speed. I heard nothing about devastation being wrought in the local park but I have no doubt that she kept the staff and customers of the Fulham branch of Waitrose on their toes.

Josephine was funny and warm and sharp and we will miss her.

(The photograph shows Josephine (centre) with her sisters Diana and Christine. Image copyright Horse and Hound)

As Bunkle Brings It Off is coming out next week and we hope that lots of you will want to pre-order copies and because we have lots of other wonderful books on our list that we’d like you all to discover, we’re offering 10% discount on all orders via our website until midnight on 30th June.  You don’t need to order a copy of Bunkle Brings It Off (although it’s fantastic – goats, Russian princess, kidnappers and all), rather you might want to rediscover the Jill books by Ruby Ferguson; enjoy the pony-based adventures of the West Barsetshire Pony Club in Josephine Pullein Thompson’s books; read Mabel Esther Allan’s Isle of Man-based school story The School on North Barrule or visit the magical world of Tattles in Silver Snaffles by Primrose Cumming… so many choices!

All you need to do is add books to your shopping basket in the usual way and when you get to the check-out simply enter the code NPJUN13 in the discount code box.

A Celebratory Giveaway!

To celebrate the imminent arrival of Bunkle Brings It Off – 1st July – and to mark the moment where I really feel we’re cracking on with publishing again, we’re running a giveaway for the next few days.  I’m also hoping that this gesture of warmth and generosity will encourage the sun to finally bless us with some generous warmth…

The prize is that our lucky winner – chosen by time honoured name-in-hat system – will be invited to choose one of our in-print titles and we will post it to them anywhere in the world, free of charge.  There are two ways of entering.  The first is to vist our Facebook page, ‘like’ it and leave your name in the comments beneath this post.  Alternatively, you can leave your name in the comments beneath this blog post.  The Facebook option is the easiest from my point of view, but I do know that some people avoid Facebook like the plague – my husband amongst them!

The draw closes at midnight (UK time) on Tuesday 25th June and I’ll do the draw on the following day.  In the interests of complete objectivity I’ll ask my son to draw the winning name.

Best of luck

I know that many of our readers have been eagerly awaiting the appearance of Bunkle Brings It Off, the last title in Margot Pardoe's series about the eponymous Bunkle who spends his life getting into scrapes, being teased by his older siblings (he's nick-named Bunkle because they say he speaks such a lot of bunk) but always saving the day in the end, often helping out his father who works for the Secret Service. Bunkle Brings It Off involves him with a Russian princess, a gang of kidnappers and a goat before he wins through.  I do love the Bunkle series - they're so charmingly off their time and have all the ingredients of a good children's adventure story which ensured their success when they were first published.  One of my very favourite things is when people tell me that they're passing them on to children today and that they're enjoying them.  It's great that our reissues make more mature readers happy, especially those who've been unable to lay hands on these titles prior to our editions, but knowing that they're gaining a new audience is wonderful because that's how these books will continue to be enjoyed.

Bunkle Brings It Off will be available to pre-order next week so that you can be among the first to savour his adventures.

http://www.fidrabooks.com/publishing/images/JillHasTwoPonies.jpgThe Jill series of pony books by Ruby Ferguson were some of my favourite books as a child. Jill Crewe  bright and resourceful – like all good heroines – but there’s a dry humour that has always made me laugh. It’s probably why I’ve always had a soft spot for Noel Fielding in Josephine Pullein Thompson’s pony club series (also published by Fidra), who has similarly wry tone and habit of quoting poetry at apt moments.  My original Knight paperbacks with their rosette covers are very special to me.

We’ve already brought out the first two titles in the Jill series – Jill’s Gymkhana (reprinting and available again in two to three weeks) and A Stable For Jill – and I’m really pleased that we now have finished copies of Jill Has Two Ponies ready to send to customers ordering directly.  Copies will be at our wholesalers warehouse ready to be sent out to bookshops within the next week.

It’s been a stressful year or two – more on that another time perhaps – but now that we’ve sold the bookshop business and are able to concentrate on publishing again, it’s great to see this book back in print and I’m looking forward to having the rest of the series follow soon, as well as titles by our other authors.