May 3, 2022
Kells has been chasing rare books and other bookish
treasures since childhood. In the 1980s he went for classic sci-fi
paperbacks from Ace and Dell, and authors such as Philip K. Dick
and Robert Heinlein.
When he moved to Melbourne in the summer
of 1989 he was amazed by the city’s bookshops, especially
secondhand shops - notably Alice’s and Sainsbury’s in Carlton.
When he wasn’t looking for
books here he was
fossicking in the Co-op bookshop at Melbourne University, or
hunting for them at
markets and fetes. For the past 26 years he's been a regular at Camberwell Market
where great books can be found, along with almost everything else.
Vividly remembered finds include Iain Banks and Vikram Seth firsts;
classic Australian crime pulps; rare maps; and advertising and
ephemera of every kind.
I connected with Stuart recently via
Zoom to talk about Penguin and the Lane Brothers, his
revealing, myth-busting book about the intimate partnership of
Allen, Richard and John Lane – and how it explains the success of
Penguin Books, the twentieth century’s "greatest publishing house."
We talk about the spirit of daring and creative opposition that
drove the brothers to publish so many quality books on such a
massive scale at such affordable prices – and how together they
achieved a revolution in modern book publishing.