March 2011 | Rebecca Rego Barry

Catalogue Review: Simon Beattie

Introducing a new series of weekly bookseller catalogue reviews, in which we briefly review one outstanding new catalogue, to be posted on Fridays. This week we take a look at Simon Beattie's Short List 3. Beattie has been in business for himself for just over a year, specializing in "European cultural (and cross-cultural) history," and more particularly "Germany, Russia, music, language."

beattie005.jpgThe oversized format caught my attention right away--more newspaper than glossy magazine--and the opening spread of black text is very appealing to the eye. Beattie tells us that the twenty-five pieces in the catalogue "are united in the desire to create, be it to inform, to entertain, or to incite." This includes the work of a Chechen jihadist and a Nantucket Quaker, among others.

The interior of the catalogue is striking (almost disarming at first), with colorful images and texts running at odd angles. It moves chronologically from 1785's copy of Restif de la Bretonne's utopian novel, Les Veillees du Marais (£1250), to 1974's samizdat Russian translation of Nik Cohn's history of pop music (£2750). Images are accompanied by brief listings, and one pages to the back to see the full descriptions and prices. Goethe's Ossian (£3500) is one of the jewels of the list. It was privately printed by a 23-year-old Goethe. The first Russian edition of Mark Twain's The Prince and the Pauper (£3500) is rather amazing as well; Beattie notes that only one other copy could be found outside Russia, and that at the Library of Congress.  

Overall, it's an exciting selection of material, presented in a novel way. Download it, or contact Beattie for a paper copy.

Take a look at our Catalogues Received for the month of March to see what else is out there in bookseller catalogues right now. If you are a dealer, and you are not already sending a catalogue to our attention, please see the directions on this page.