Where Have They All Gone?




Where Have They All Gone?

While sifting through the sports section in my local bookshop the other day it struck me how obvious it was that there is a total lack of books on Snooker. No biographies, no ‘how to play’ books, not even a hilarious collection of Snooker anecdotes! 

Golf, as an example has a pile of books so large that I doubt they could be carried out of the shop in one trip and the Snooker section was totally bare! I am aware of how popular Golf is and in all probability it is actually played by more people, but I think that the amount of T.V. coverage for both pastimes is very similar, maybe even more for Snooker, so I can’t see that it is just a case that Golf is more popular.

There are a few of the modern players who have biographies available (although my bookshop did not stock them, they needed to be ordered), but nothing like the amount that was available a few decades ago.

If we go back a hundred years or so pretty much all of the top players of that time had books published on how to play (Billiards at that time of course!)

This was also the case for the first part of the twentieth century and apart from a lull after the Second World war when Snooker and Billiards took a decline there have always been books on our chosen sport.

The nineteen seventies and eighties saw a huge growth in Snooker and a shed load of books came with that growth. Almost every player of note from that period produced a book of some sort, whether it be an instructional book, a biography or even a light-hearted look at the game.

For the collector of Snooker books, this period (1970’s and 80’s) has a huge range and most can be found for very little money. This is I feel a very underrated area for collecting at the moment as many serious collectors tend to concentrate their collection around late nineteenth and early twentieth century Billiard books, dismissing later books as not worthy of ownership.

This keeps the relatively modern Snooker books even though many are twenty or thirty years old out of the double figures as far as the prices are concerned. I think this will not last for long and soon the prices will rise as more people start to include them in there collections.

But I have strayed off the point somewhat, my question is what has happened in the last ten years or so, why has so few books been produced by the modern players? Could it be that the top players of today earn so much money that they can’t be bothered with what might be seen as lucrative book deals? Is it that the modern amateur Snooker enthusiast does not need a ‘how to play’ book or has all he needs from the past publications and so there is no demand for such new literal instruction?

Maybe today’s players don’t wish to pass on information about their techniques and skills?

Could it be that the new young players do not have the literal skills to write such a book? Although I think there are a couple of todays players, (no names!) that would surprise me if they could produce much more than an ‘X’ when signing t here name, I’m sure most are articulate enough to put a book together.

In fact even though I have offered them up none of the above reasons seem feasible to me, so why is it that today we have so few books available?

If anyone has a more likely theory I would be happy to hear it.

David Thomas Lyttleton