The book that I have most enjoyed selling this year

It is a necessity, rather than just a desire, for us to put unusual and delightful books in front of our customers. A case in point is this book

It is a remarkable book, originally published in 1847 by William Pickering – a bookseller / publisher famed for publishing scholarly editions of classic authors. Not a great deal is known of the author Oliver Byrne. He was not only a mathematician, civil engineer and prolific author, but also ‘Surveyor of Her Majesty’s Settlements in the Falkland Islands’ and an advocate of Irish armed revolt against British rule. However, he is best known for this beautiful and beguiling masterpiece, in which the first six books of Euclid’s Elements of Geometry are presented where ‘Coloured Diagrams and Symbols are used instead of Letters for the Greater Ease of Learners’.

This edition is published by Taschen, an Art publisher, and you can see the use of yellow, red, blue and black in the diagrams is reminiscent of Mondrian.

Indeed, the book was first offered for sale in our Art & Poster shop. I am no mathematician but when I saw it I fell in love with it and decided that we would feature it in the main shop. I showed the book to various booksellers in the Norrington Room and they agreed. Despite no review coverage it is a delight to be able to report that sales have far exceeded our expectations (we have sold hundreds of copies) and reaffirms our conviction that promoting books from beyond the mainstream is what Blackwell’s on Broad Street should be doing day in day out.

Even if you have no desire to buy the book do take the opportunity when you are next in the shop to visit the Maths Dept. and take a look at a magnificent work of art.

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