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Oxfam’s big cheque books
AN OXFAM shop has made £2,300 from just five books.
And it says it is increasingly using the internet to get the best price for rare first editions and signed copies.
The Thame shop, which has made £1.5m for Oxfam since it opened 14 years ago, is becoming well known among book lovers as a specialist source of rare volumes.
Store manager Dick Jennens said three things enabled it to corner such a niche market.
He said: “Oxfam is the local charity, and there is still a lot of support for it here.
“South Oxfordshire is good book-reading territory because the local population are employed and educated, and also the generosity of our donors.”
In December, the Oxford Mail reported that the shop was selling a rare, 1912 edition of Peter Pan, a signed copy of Margaret Thatcher’s Stagecraft worth £175, a rare book by Edwardian animal artist Louis Wain worth £600, a £400, 1914 copy of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and a first edition of General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money by influential economist John Maynard Keynes, worth £900.
The shop sold three of the rare books over the internet, shipping one to a collector in Japan.
Mr Jennens said the piece in the Mail had helped to advertise the collectors’ gems, but more and more the shop uses the internet to get the best price for rare editions.
He said: “We are planning to expand our internet operation.
“We already sell on AbeBooks, Amazon and the Oxfam online shop.”
He is currently using the internet to find a home for a unique collection of 13 books by historian and novellist Allan Mallinson.
The collection, worth about £450, includes a signed first edition of the author’s first book, A Close Run Thing, worth £125 alone.
Mr Jennens said: “If we have a rare, interesting or expensive book, something over £50, we will try it on the internet because it keeps the book in a tidy and mint condition.
“We put it online first, then at some point later we might put it on the shelves.”
But, Mr Jennens said, the shop isn’t ready to go completely digital yet.
He said: “We have 80 volunteers in the shop, ranging in age from 14 to 91.
“It is a smashing little shop to work in and I have had a wonderful time working here.”