Being an LEC collector in the UK

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Being an LEC collector in the UK

Mar 30, 2013, 4:57pm

Means that sometimes a polite enquiry for further details about a book or books is met by such as this:


I like to be accomodating. Sometimes, it's not practicable or feasible. As
now. First off, I don't make images to send across cyberspace: that's not a
skill I've any mastery over. Nor do I wish to. Second, I cannot fathom - in
my limitation scope of imagination - why anyone would want to front the cost
of Global Priority Mail to send this set to the UK: it's simply not that
important. And, third: given the scope of money which is here involved, without any offense
being intended, I cannot justify the amount of time necessary to get this
set temporarily boxed and weighed so as to estimate a fixed price for the
Global Priority cost. Have you at least taken note of our increases, since
January, in the USA, for Global Priority shipping? They used to seem
reasonable, in December, but now they're truly on a par with the prevailing
international costs. A single, small, not heavy Flat Rate Global Priority
envelope starts at $ 23.95, and the prices increase dramatically from there
in proportion to weight! The entire proposition seems to me to make no
practical sense at all, but, then, that vantage may reveal to you much about
my own limited visions as a merchant of old books!"

Hm, seems like someone got out of bed on the wrong side this morning!

I'll qualify this by stating that the majority of my experiences of dealing with US sellers has been very positive, and I'm sure that there are quite a few curmudgeonly UK dealers too.

Mar 30, 2013, 5:20pm

The British dealers I've dealt with have been quite nice but the postage to send a FS book from the UK to the US is quite high, frequently more than the cost of the book. Still, I can't complain too much - I'd rather be able to get LEC's at a good price than FS books. Fiona, good luck on your quest for affordable LEC's.

Mar 30, 2013, 6:25pm

It's depressing. I pay about $50 for shipping from the US to Denmark per book. It's cheaper combined but still a lot. I wonder how much it is now with the price increase?

Mar 30, 2013, 6:31pm

> 1
Fiona, sad but not all that uncommon, particularly if this was someone from ABE. On more than one occasion I have been denied pictures (I love it when, like this person, the seller acts as though you are doing them a HUGE inconvenience to even consider buying from them!). Sometimes it is because they don't have a camera, the camera is not working, the book is at an offsite storage, and my favorite, "Thank you for your interest but as a matter of policy, I will not bother with photographing books that are listed for under $100, it is not worth my time." I would love to know how long these unwilling sellers sit on their inventory!

And in a mirror situation, I once enquired from an English seller about an older hard-to-find-in-the-USA Folio book and he refused to send it to me because he was only willing to do it airmail and it was much more than the cost of the book!

Mar 30, 2013, 6:45pm

Yes, he was on Abe. My response:


Sorry you feel like that. I happen to love LECs and have very little access to them here in the UK, consequently I am prepared to pay the shipping costs involved in order to have some choice over what I get.

I recently purchased a batch of LECs from a US seller for which I paid $315 for the books and $150 for the postage. I will be placing a second order with that seller shortly. The same books, should I have been able to find copies in the UK, would likely have cost me well over £1000.

The economics may not make sense to you but they do to me.



Mar 30, 2013, 8:10pm

> 5
I love the line "The economics may not make sense to you but they do to me." Because it basically gets at the concept that how you choose to spend your money is none of his goddamn business, and he should be grateful that you were offering to spend some of it with him. I do hope you plan to boycott this individual in the future.

Editado: Mar 30, 2013, 10:55pm

Yes, and I hope you share his name--I would never want to consider doing business with someone so rude.

(Although you have to give im credit for Truth in Advertising"-- at least when he talked about his "limited scope of imagination .")

Mar 31, 2013, 12:38am

Not at all surprised quite honestly. You should have seen some of the answers I've received while I was in Bulgaria...

Mar 31, 2013, 12:42pm

By the time he had banged out that barely literate drivel he could have done his job! This, from last week, is more like it:

"Dear starkimarki,
Thank you for your purchase. Shipping with tracking would cost around $100.00, but we will just charge you $50.00."

That is from somewhere I shall be revisiting. Dealers without a surface lift license to Europe are rapidly becoming unfeasibly expensive. As the costs increase, the less scrupulous probably worry about returns, and the cost thereof. I have had refusals from the UK as well due to shipping costs.

Mar 31, 2013, 4:42pm

>1 HuxleyTheCat: If you, or anyone else overseas, is having trouble getting LEC's shipped from the US, I (along with, I'm sure, many others on here) would be more than happy to act as a sort of middleman. It wouldn't be to hard to package several orders from various sellers together and forward them on to you.

Mar 31, 2013, 5:17pm

Aaron that's a great offer.

Editado: Mar 31, 2013, 6:41pm

I was wondering if any of the European members have had experience with MyUS, ShopUSA or Shipito or any forwarding company? The latter seems very cheap and I'm just not sure

Mar 31, 2013, 8:55pm

"Steve" reminds me somewhat of an awful lot of antiquarian booksellers - perhaps that should be a lot of awful antiquarian booksellers - from the days when tracking down a book meant visiting some distant bricks-and-mortar or wattle-and-daub shop either on spec or having been assured it was in stock.
If the shop was actually open when you got there it was a lucky start, even better if you weren't immediately engulfed by a wave of tobacco, damp fungus, eucalyptus chest rub and cat pee; but the visit would often go downhill thereafter.
My respectfully hopeful question: "Do you have (or You said you had) X by Y in stock?" would elicit a variety of answers, often along the lines of (pick any one): "No." "Might have. Why?" "Shouldn't think so." "How would I know? There's hundreds of books in here." "Sorry, sold it this morning." "Try the shelves upstairs on your right at the end of the second passage. I have to stay here to serve customers. MIND YOUR HEAD on the half-landing." "We're stocktaking. Come back next week okay?" "Go away. I can't be doing with teenagers in here."
Admittedly I could only afford to trawl the bottom end of the market but it was still dispiriting to come across so many surly gits (or loveable old independents as they seem to be remembered as since the internet drove them out of business). I've met far fewer dinosellers roaming Planet Cyberspace, and I've bought from some unfailingly cheerful and/or helpful dealers both sides of the Atlantic (and in the southern hemisphere), among them Oak Knoll, Craig at Artisan Books, Tom at Different Drummer Books, Leah at Adopt Our Books in Alamba, and over here in England the Bow Windows Bookshop in Lewes and typographia in Hereford (whose co-proprietor worked at the Cambridge University Press with John Dreyfus, Macy's friend and European consultant). The most recent were Canadian booksellers William Matthews, who charged me less than £8 post and packing for the Random House/W A Dwiggins limited edition of Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. It reached me in under five days.

Mar 31, 2013, 9:45pm

>13 featherwate: " Random House/W A Dwiggins limited edition of Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. It reached me in under five days."

Fascinating little tome! Interesting to compare the various limited edition Jekyll and Hydes: Dwiggins' version characteristically compact enough to be pocket-sized, with gorgeous typography and serviceable, if not inspired, illustrations; Macy's large enough to be comfortable reading for aging eyes with iconic illustrations by an illustrator who many might not have thought of as being the first choice to use; the Hand and Eye edition with Angela Barrett's atmospheric illustrations that, for me, are very reminiscent of E.A. Wilson's for the LEC; and the Centipede Press edition which features stills from movie versions, notably the remarkable Frederic March version from the early 1930s.

Did your version come with the slipcase, featherwate? I hope so as it is a model for a beautiful design that integrates seamlessly with the book (though alas, it wasn't constructed much better than most slipcases of that era; mine is intact, but fragile enough that I normally don't take it out).

Mar 31, 2013, 10:20pm

>14 Django6924: Yes, it has the slipcase - that's what first caught my eye and I was determined to wait for a copy which had it ! It's been repaired but not in an obtrusive way. That apart it's remained remarkably solid. I'm very pleased with the whole thing.
E.A. Wilson's LEC is, I think, my favourite work of his and as you say it's a mercifully legible book - a good example of the 'readability first' approach! (I can't remember who designed it - was it Macy himself?).
Angela Barrett's edition is very tempting....

Abr 1, 2013, 2:00am

My experience with EP had been worst, it seem to me they are reluctant to sell it to foreigner. at least you have got a detail and frank ,albeit rude, reply.

Abr 1, 2013, 5:59am

Found on

Service Updates
Culture can change global mailing conditions.

The Postal Service is committed to maintaining a standard of cultural excellence in the worldwide community and has become aware of the pain caused to bibliophiles who have no reasonable access to fine press books, and is instantiating a new and more affordable service for books worthy of support.

The Postal Service has worked collaboratively with the International Civil Aviation Organization, the Universal Postal Union and the Library of Congress to secure the changes needed to allow subsidised international mail shipments containing fine press books to begin.

Post Office employees have been instructed on package acceptance and customs label declaration procedures. Please present a copy of the colophon and proof of enclosure of slipcase.

This change presents an enhancement and convenience for our customers. We are pleased that customers maintain their confidence in the Postal Service and we look forward to continuing to be a shipper of choice for international and APO, FPO, DPO shipments containing fine press books.

Mayo 28, 2013, 2:37am

And as my comeuppance for crowing about a bargain and playing the April fool, USPS lost the package (#9) with no less than 24 LECs inside. That brings the total to 30 that are sitting around in some forgotten PO corner, instead of on my bookshelves. Luckily I was able to get a refund.

Mayo 28, 2013, 7:43pm

>18 starkimarki:

That is incomprehensible. In all my years of collecting, USPS has never lost anything I've purchased. And I have sent many books to the U.K. and Europe through the postal service without a mishap. Are any of your neighbors bibliophiles?

Mayo 28, 2013, 9:01pm

>18 starkimarki:

Are you sure the package was sent at all? Big packages are less likely to get lost quite honestly - a small one can get displaced but 24 books...

If you are loosing packages, you may need to talk with the local USPS office or check what address they have for you?

Editado: Mayo 28, 2013, 9:41pm

I have been buying and selling items (both music and books) on eBay since 2006. In that time, the USPS

1) sent an $800, 14 volume set of books (3 large boxes) to Georgia instead of Texas, delaying delivery for three weeks

2) "inspected" a package filled with eight rare books, marked it "perishables," and "destroyed the contents." That's right, somehow a media mail inspector opened my box, looked inside, and accidentally marked it as if it had fruit inside of it. I spent over a month trying to track down the box, filing all of the proper paperwork, only to find out that the books were incinerated . . .

3) lost another seven of my smaller packages; no explanation, no notice, just gone

4) delivered books that were supposed to arrive in 7-10 business days in 40 business days

So, Django has been lucky, but losses do occur. In all, though, only a dozen or so issues in the past seven years; not too bad. I have generally found the USPS to be extremely reliable and helpful with queries. The key is ordering delivery confirmation when you check out, but that isn't available overseas unless you do a signature delivery, which is a little more expensive.

Mayo 29, 2013, 8:15am

Several years ago five parcels from the U.S.A. didn't arrive. It happened at the same time and was frustrating, indeed.

Over one year later, I first received five separate letters from the Swedish post explaining that they had just found out that a container full of mail had been forgotten somewhere in the harbour area, and apologized by giving me postage stamps worth about six dollars. A few days later, the parcels arrived - with high postal charges for handling the customs process...

Mayo 29, 2013, 3:52pm

>22 parchment: For this reason I am extremely hesitant to ship or buy overseas, especially in large quantities. I can only guess how much a box of 24 LECs cost the above seller in the refund. At least within the US there is postal insurance (I'm not sure about outside). Paying $7 or $10 to insure a package on top of regular shipping fees might sound expensive, but if $500 worth of books disappears, you might as well at least get your cash back. The real loss is the books though. The contents of my "perishable" books box could not have easily been replaced; it took me over a year and a half to acquire the pristine copies that were lost.

Mayo 30, 2013, 2:03am

I have over 250 pounds of LEC on its way to me next week, USPS from NY to Asia, I hope there will be no rain, no crazy postman , and no freak accident on its journey.

Mayo 30, 2013, 7:20pm

Everyone on this thread is making me jealous; "a box of 24 LECs," "250 pounds of LEC." :-/

Mayo 30, 2013, 7:59pm

I'm having to move my LECs to my office to make room at my house--I didn't realize 18-wheel semis were so expensive to rent...

Mayo 30, 2013, 9:18pm

>26 Django6924: HAHAHAHAHA! Love it!

Any other ridiculous-amount-of-LEC situations out there?

Mayo 30, 2013, 11:43pm

I didn't even dare to tell my friend, it really sounds like a joke or something ridiculous to many who are immune from book.

Mayo 30, 2013, 11:53pm

"like a joke or something ridiculous to many who are immune from book"

Of course there are many to whom owning books per se isn't ridiculous, but spending the amount of money that people here spend on LECs and other fine press books is unfathomable. I remember a friend shaking her head in disbelief and dismay when I excitedly told her I bought the Folio Society LE of Night Thoughts.

I suppose it doesn't make sense to some to even own books rather than just downloading e-books or getting them from the library. But for we few, "we happy few," books are more than just words put together. It is an art form--rather than having a sculpture garden or gallery of paintings, we have our libraries.

Mayo 31, 2013, 12:29am

Well said !

And this forum is one of the best place maniac could come to share their moment of indulgence.

Feb 26, 3:03am

It's year 2021 and I still can't get a heavy and big LEC book shipped to Europe for a reasonable price! Are there any alternatives, fellow Europeans?

Feb 26, 4:06am

>31 Lukas1990:

I'm three years into this LEC buying business. You're right, you can't get LEC books shipped to Europe for a reasonable price. The only alternative that I have found is paying an unreasonable price. It's not the fault of booksellers, they are merely reflecting the cost of shipping. And it's a two way thing - I have just shipped a large, heavy book from the UK to the US for the sort of cost I pay for books going the other way.

Editado: Feb 26, 4:52am

>31 Lukas1990:
>32 affle:
I’ve found Biblio least expensive to the EU/Sweden, though sometimes extra shipping charges appear. It used to be the case that eBay ”Import charges”/Global Shipping Program meant I didn’t face extra fees at pickup here, but these days it seems I do anyway, to the tune of £10-15 per parcel, so I’m only using eBay for great deals or books I can’t find elsewhere. With AbeBooks and Biblio I face the same charges, but at least I don’t pay twice.

I’m a glass half full guy - with Brexit I now face the same fees when I order from the Folio Society and eBay and AbeBooks UK, so LECs have gotten relatively cheaper, and I can still buy many a Fine LEC printed letterpress for about 100 USD all costs included.

Obviously the few times a seller has more than one book I want I’m delighted!

Editado: Feb 26, 5:46am

Thank you for your replies!

Feeling enabled by the great GMD subforum, I decided to order my first ever LEC book - Journals And Other Documents On The Life And Voyages Of Christopher Columbus, but one seller declined to send it to Lithuania and another asked an additional 85$ charge (though I've already paid 25$ for shipping so it would be 110$ total shipping for a 50$ book) which I rejected. Still trying to find a bookseller whose shipping costs are bearable. Giants like Thriftbooks usually aren't that bad when it comes to shipping prices but they don't have this book in stock.

Well... I guess I'll just get back to buying second-hand Folio Society and smaller-sized Heritage Press books. I also have to explore the UK second-hand market. Maybe there are some fine press books from UK publishers which cost similar to LEC books and also have similar quality. Shipping is much cheaper from UK and taxes here in Lithuania also aren't that huge even after Brexit (it is about 9 percent of the cost of the book).

Feb 26, 4:08pm

>34 Lukas1990: I can only sympathize. We are fortunate here in the US that many Folio Society books on the second hand market are already here. (It is even expensive to have a book shipped from Canada -and I'm only 25 miles from the border.) US Media Mail is one of the great bargains.

Feb 26, 4:25pm

>35 laotzu225: I paid 20$ for shipping In Praise of Folly by Erasmus (Heritage Press) from Canada. The book costed only 15$. Hopefully I will receive it as promised in April. This book will be the closest I can get to a LEC book.

In the meantime... Another seller also asked 110$ for shipping Journals And Other Documents On The Life And Voyages Of Christopher Columbus (LEC). BUT... I managed to find another VG copy of the book. Though the book is far from fine condition, shipping costed only 35$. Waiting for shipment confirmation so the seller can still cancel the order.

It is very frustrating. Is that the so called 'global' world?

Feb 26, 4:37pm

>31 Lukas1990: I had a lot of luck buying through eBay US and Biblio.

On eBay, look for listings with the Global Shipping Programme. This means that the seller merely has to send it to a US warehouse and then eBay takes full responsibility for getting it across the Atlantic. It all depends on what is reasonable, but I usually pay £20-£30, which I don't consider unreasonably for being one of the few Europeans able to enjoy these fairly rare and very nice books. Books usually arrive within about 2 weeks.

Biblio is a similar arrangement. They use a consolidator called Asendia who takes care of the transatlantic leg when buying from the US. Shipping prices are a bit lower than eBay generally, but every time I bought from them it took about a month.

Using these methods I have amassed a collection of about a dozen LEC titles.

I also have a bookmarked search on eBay UK and AbeBooks UK for Limited Editions Club. Perhaps once every couple of months, an interesting LEC book comes up within my home country.

To stray wildly off-topic, if you are looking to broaden your horizons beyond Folio Society and LEC/HP is your first stop then you're on the same journey as me. You might find it interesting to look at some great Europe-based "private presses". I've been dabbling in Golden Cockerel Press, Whittington Press, and Fleece Press, for example. They're a step up in price, but also in quality (especially for Whittington, whose books are exceptional).

Editado: Feb 26, 5:00pm

>37 ubiquitousuk: Thank you! The problem with Journals And Other Documents On The Life And Voyages Of Christopher Columbus (LEC) is that it weighs over 5 lbs and therefore does not qualify for the Biblio shipping program. I really like Biblio but it is annoying that they let you order a book which is impossible to ship. I've ordered the book on Ebay now and see how it goes.

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