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Issue 129 - Book Search or Book Surge?

Whisky Magazine Issue 129
July 2015


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Book Search or Book Surge?

That's the question!

Looking at the explosion of whisky publications, online as well as in print, it seems that over the past two decades more books on the topic have been published than in the previous two centuries.

Thanks to technological developments such as publishing and printing on demand, it is even possible to bring back old and forgotten masterpieces in brand new facsimile editions. Neil Wilson and Ian Buxton, both prolific authors themselves, pioneered this with some fine whisky books like the quintessential The Manufacture of Whisky and Plain Spirit by J. A. Nettleton, originally published in 1913, and Aeneas MacDonald's 1930 little gem Whisky. For the true bibliophile, nothing beats the original, and signed first editions are the ‘examples par excellence' among these books.

The fun starts with the search, either online or in nooks and crannies of stuffy old second hand book stores, flea markets and the like. It pays to spend time in these shops. In Charleston, South Carolina, I once found an original first edition of Notes on a Cellar Book by George Saintsbury, complete with dust jacket. When I casually asked the price, the proprietor mumbled, “Nine dollars.” I couldn't believe my ears, my jaw dropped; body language the employee misinterpreted, apologising with, “Well, if that's too much, you can have it for seven instead.” Book and money changed hands immediately and I celebrated the day. Saintsbury's book from 1920 is considered one of the first, if not the first,...

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