Transworld has pre-empted a book about the rare and antiquarian book trade by bookseller Oliver Darkshire in a six-figure deal.
Alex Christofi, editorial director, bought UK and Commonwealth rights to Once Upon a Tome: The Misadventures of a Rare Bookseller from John Ash at PEW Literary. North American rights went at auction to Tom Mayer at W W Norton. It will be published in autumn 2022.
Darkshire works at Henry Sotheran Ltd on Sackville Street, London, and runs the the @Sotherans Twitter account. The synopsis for his book says: "Taking its inspiration from the capacious shelving system of the shop, Darkshire introduces readers to the shop (Antiquarian and General), its booksellers, customers and animals (Natural History), dungeons (Architecture), book fairs (Travel & Exploration) and many more. This is the colourful story of life in one of the country's most ancient bookshops, and a love letter to the benign, unruly world of antiquarian bookselling."
Christofi said: "There is something gloriously bonkers about rare bookselling – something in its DNA which stubbornly resists any and all attempts at capitalist efficiency. Oliver has pulled back the curtain on a world where to be uncommon or weird is the best possible compliment, and his writing is so naturally funny, the perfect admixture of acid wit and genuine affection. This will be the perfect gift for your favourite bibliophile (and it’s okay if that’s you)."
Darkshire added: "I’m delighted to unleash a hidden world of creaking cryptids and treacherous tomes onto the unsuspecting public. The lovely people at Transworld have proven entirely complicit in this antiquarian misadventure, and I am very grateful to have someone with whom to share the blame."