Books on a Budget



Collecting on a Budget – Books

As I have said on this site, my main collection is billiard cues, however I have a small number of other items, including a set of Ivory billiard balls, a small number of cigarette cards and a basket for keeping the balls in. This basket is the type that you see people jumping balls into in trick shot demonstrations. I also have a set of Bonzoline snooker plus balls, which include the purple and orange balls used in this game.

My book collection includes the book by Dufton and early books by John Roberts and John Roberts Junior. Collecting early books has become quite expensive in recent years; I first started collecting mine in second hand shops paying on average £5. Unfortunately, this situation didn’t last long but I suppose that I’ve had my fair share of bargains.

One of my biggest was the Major General Drayson book which, I bought for £3 on a market stall and one of Willie Smith’s books that I found in a shop in Whitby also for £3.

It is still possible to get some of the later books for a few pounds but most people don’t consider them collectible.

Some future collectors items include John Spencer’s excellent book both instructionally and for giving autobiographical insight is “Spencer on Snooker” which, if you are fortunate you can find for just a few pounds to get you started. This book was reprinted in 1986 in paperback and still sits on many second-hand bookshelves waiting to be discovered. I remember a story about a certain Mr O’Kane the famous New Zealand Snooker professional. As a youngster he borrowed this book so often from his local library that they eventually gave it to him.

Other books that are becoming sought after by some are Clive Everton’s “History of Billiards and Snooker” which, is packed with historical data and quite a good read.

Some books are more numerous than people realise such as Melbourne Inman’s book, “How to play Billiards”. I have had four copies of this book, never paying more than £8 for a copy, however I have seen it for sale for much more.

Perhaps it goes without saying but the books to look out for are first edition books, if you see yourself as a collector, however if you just want to read and keep them for interest it doesn’t really matter too much. If you are interested and the price and condition are within what you consider acceptable, you can’t go wrong.

I remember getting John Pullman’s paperback called “Tackle Snooker”, it was a few years later that I came across an original first edition hardback version.

If you are on a budget and lets be honest most of us are, then collecting some of the newer books may be a way to start.

Another new book that is interesting from a historical perspective is Fred Davis’s book “Talking Snooker”, this book is written in a very candid way and gives an insight into the snooker circuit of many years ago as Fred had such a long career. This book can turn up for a few pounds in second hand bookshops and is well worth a read.

Some of the earlier billiard teaching books can be very difficult to enjoy reading for me as they require a degree of understanding of the game that we might get from watching top class play, sadly we don’t get much chance to do this nowadays.

Another relatively modern book that is still around on the second hand shelves is Terry Griffiths and Clive Everton’s “Championship Snooker”, this book gives a good insight into the technical side of playing snooker and a view of Terry’s year as world champion.

Finally you might still be lucky enough to come across one of the later editions of Joe Davis’s book, “How I play Snooker” in paperback. The original hard-backed version is now becoming quite expensive. This book is the one that Steve Davis and his father Bill studied as a basis for building Steve’s own technique in the 1970’s. This book has little autobiographical insights but is mainly a technical book on how Joe Davis played the game of Snooker.

Good luck with finding the more obscure items but remember some of the more modern books can be relatively inexpensive and are often a better read. In no way am I attempting to discourage you from getting hold of the older books but I feel that the books of the recent past are the collectors items of the future.

David Smith
Cues n Views