The James Bond novels published by The Book Club..
Ian Fleming’s early James Bond novels are some of the most collectible first editions in modern fiction. The first novel, Casino Royale commands eye watering sums of money and for many lovers of the genre the idea of collecting a full set of the first editions is all but impossible. For those of us who began collecting them when all but the first three were relatively inexpensive it has proven to be both a pleasurable and fairly lucrative experience, true Bond lovers will, one hopes, put the books before the films and owning a Jonathan Cape first edition is a special thing indeed.
My introduction to Fleming’s work was courtesy of The Book Club. Rather snobbishly known as the poor man’s Bond, it was this format and the cover artwork which first attracted me to them and, some twenty or more years later kick started my Bond collection proper.
I began with The Man With The Golden Gun, the cover artwork was, for this young reader in the early 80s everything a schoolboy looked for in adventure; guns, spies and a sense of the faraway and exotic and I loved it. As an adult I began collecting them alongside the first editions and various paperback releases and they have always held a fond place in my collector’s heart.
The first Book Club edition was Live and Let Die, published in 1956. It was the second book in the series after Casino Royale and these editions usually followed a year after the Cape publications at a reduced cost. The books usually carried the same cover artwork as the first editions but this came to an end when the original artwork for Thunderball was damaged whilst on loan and so the BCA had to source their own artwork.
I for one are pleased that they did, for me they make a pleasing alternative to the originals and manage to convey that boyhood sense of adventure those of a certain age will doubtless remember with a good deal of affection.
Categories: The Reading Room