Thursday, October 31, 2013


Now that we're coming down from all the excitement over the release of the new Bond novel (Solo by William Boyd), and as we settle into the wait for the new Young Bond adventure from Steve Cole, here's a little something to keep our energy up. "It's a James Bond Explosion!" from John Gardner.

This is a header of a book display used in the early '80s for the U.S. edition of For Special Services. But what exactly did this display contain? Did it contain both License Renewed and For Special Services? And were these hardcovers or paperbacks?

Does anyone remember seeing this in bookstores back in the '80s?

Friday, October 25, 2013

Italian SOLO

Here's cover art for the Italian edition of Solo by William Boyd, due for release October 29 from Einaudi. It can be purchased at Thanks to mdohmss at 007 World for the find.

Read my review of Solo here.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

YOUNG BOND will be 14-15 in new books

The Bucks Herald has landed an interview with author Steve Cole who reveals a few additional nuggets of information about his new Young Bond series.

First, exactly when and how he landed the job:

Cole heard the news in the spring but had to keep it top secret until now. 
“It was part of the test to keep it secret,” he said. 
“I was ecstatic and blasted the James Bond theme in my car. It is a high profile assignment and I consider it a privilege.”

“Part of getting the job was to work out a pitch for a story arch to cover four books,” he said.

The article also reveals the age range of James Bond in the new novels:

In Cole’s novels Bond will be aged 14 and 15. 
He said: “These are the books that show how the adult Bond was formed. 
“He has adventures and brushes with the Secret Service, and an uncle who is a spy. 
“In the 30s travel was different and more exotic and there is rich dramatic potential in the events of those times.”

Steve Cole's first Young Bond novel will be released by Random House Children's Publishers in Fall 2014. No news yet about a U.S. publisher or release date.

Friday, October 18, 2013

LINK: View to a killing: why do collectors pay so much for James Bond first editions?

Here's a nice article by Rick Gekoski in The Guardian about the escalating values of Ian Fleming James Bond First Editions. Click the headline to read.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Jon Gilbert's IAN FLEMING THE BIBLIOGRAPHY wins the ILAB Breslauer Prize

Ian Fleming The Bibliography by Jon Gilbert has won the prestigious International League of Antiquarian Booksellers Breslauer Prize for Bibliography. Below is the official press release from the ILAB website.


16th ILAB Breslauer Prize for Bibliography

The ILAB Breslauer Prize for Bibliography, given every fourth year to the most outstanding scholarly book about books and worth $10.000, is one of the most prestigious prizes in the field of bibliography.

The Jury, consisting of Felix de Marez Oyens (President of the B.H. Breslauer Foundation), David Adams (Manchester University), Jean-Marc Chatelain (Bibliothèque Nationale de France), Poul Jan Poulsen (Aldus Antikvariat, Denmark), Umberto Pregliasco (Libreria Antiquaria Pregliasco, Italy) and Arnoud Gerits (A. Gerits & Son, The Netherlands), has honoured Jon Gilbert with the 16th Prize for his outstanding and superb bibliography on Ian Fleming and his works:


Preface by Fergus Fleming. Foreword by Michael L. Vanblaricum. Edited by Brad Frank. London, Queen Anne Press, 2012.

The quality of the submitted books was high and many books needed a thorough discussion: the diversity of subjects was impressive, the scholarship and devotion put into each and every publication could only evoke admiration. The Jury realized that it was discussing, in many cases, lifelong interest and devotion to a certain subject or topic, and that many authors have worked on their bibliography in evenings, during week-ends and during holidays as many authors have a day-to-day professional life, often outside the world of books.

The Jury did not come easily to this decision: there were many books of impressive quality that might have been awarded the Prize as well. But the task of any Jury is, at the end of the day, to make a decision, and the Jury awarded Jon Gilbert’s book: an outstanding work of meticulous scholarship, covering every aspect of Fleming’s writings, manuscripts, proofs, corrected or uncorrected, first and all later impressions, paperback editions and all subsequent printings and editions. It gives insight into the conception of a book, the editorial process, in short, Jon Gilbert's work covers all that possibly is to know, all one can possibly know, about Fleming and his writings. And it not only shows that modern authors are collectible, but also that modern authors merit exhaustive bibliographical scholarship. Ian Fleming. The Bibliography is, in itself, an encouragement to collect and outstanding proof that bibliographical scholarship is not limited to pre-1900 books and authors. Jon Gilbert’s book has set a standard that will not easily be equalled and is, in every aspect, a most deserved winner of the 16th ILAB Breslauer Prize for Bibliography.
The 16th Prize will be awarded in an official ceremony during the 41st Congress of the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers (ILAB), preceded by ILAB’s International Antiquarian Book Fair, both in Paris in April 2014, and both coinciding with celebrations around the 100th anniversary of the Syndicat national de la Librairie Ancienne et Moderne (SLAM).

Arnoud Gerits (Secretary, ILAB Breslauer Prize for Bibliography)

Congratulations Jon! Definitely deserving.

You can buy Ian Fleming The Bibliography on

Friday, October 11, 2013

BOOK BOND REVIEW: SOLO is the thinking man's OO7

Let's start by talking about the James Bond movies.

Bond movies can be stupid. Gloriously, magnificently, stupid. This is not a criticism. Stupid can be fun. Stupid sells! But in recent years we've seen that Bond movies can also be smart. With the arrival of Daniel Craig, we now have Bond movies rooted as much in character as formula action. And it's amazing how well that has worked out. How many billions has Skyfall made so far?

The James Bond continuation novels, which have run concurrently with the films for most of Bond's post-Fleming existence, have always occupied a conservative middle ground tonally. They never got stupid. They also never got especially smart. They always aspired to offer solid spy stories rooted in reality, but also in a formula that would be familiar to fans of the original Fleming books (or what they chose to remember of them) and the latest Eon films. Overall, the Bond continuations have offered a steady flow of very satisfying, familiar, if maybe a bit unchallenging James Bond. But with Solo by William Boyd, this has now changed.

Solo is the right name for this book. Not because "OO7 goes solo" -- a nifty marketing slogan. It's because author William Boyd goes solo into the juggernaut that is "James Bond OO7" and fearlessly does his own thing. Not since the very first continuation novel, Colonel Sun, has there been a Bond book less concerned with the industry that is James Bond. Boyd simply tells a riveting story of espionage, geopolitics, and a British secret agent in 1969. But the ghost of Ian Fleming is right there by his side.

UK edition
Solo is smart, serious, and much more concerned with capturing atmosphere than action. In fact, Solo is largely action free. Those who think this isn't "Bond" need to re-read their Fleming. This is Bond at the core. The real Bond. The thinking man's Bond. You don't read this book for exploding trains. You read it to visit West Africa. You read it to get a lesson on geopolitics in a post colonial Britain. You read it for sex. But above all, you read this book to walk with a committed middle-aged bachelor in the 1960s with a fetish for the finer things in life and a damn dangerous job. It's like paging through an issue of Playboy from the '60s when it was a true male lifestyle magazine that mixed sex, politics, fashion and toys "for the discerning bachelor." Fun.

Solo is also a hugely moody and internal book; a book that brings us back inside James Bond. Turns out that's a pretty dark place. Because the James Bond of Solo is an extremely Dark character. But not in the obvious commercialized "darkness" of a Batman (or even Skyfall). Bond is simply a man who is resigned to living a solitary, voyeuristic, and dangerous existence which, like a cancer, is eating away at his soul and will kill him one sunny day. But Bond never openly thinks this himself. The Bond of Solo only worries about where his next shower and plate of scrambled eggs might come from.

And drink.

Because James Bond drinks in Solo. He drinks a lot in Solo. He drinks morning noon and night. He drinks alone. He drinks full bottles. And when faced with the prospect of a 24-hour stretch without a restaurant or ready pub, he buys and pockets a bottle of whisky just in case (and indeed drinks it). In fact, Bond thinks more about alcohol than his mission in this book. That's because the James Bond of Solo is an alcoholic. Again, not in the falling down obviousness of a Hollywood production. In fact, those who have read the book might be surprised at my declaration here. But the book quietly screams Bond's functional alcoholism as many of the Fleming books quietly scream it as well. But how can a guy as cool and in control as James Bond be a drunk? There you go again. Don't think "James Bond OO7" of the films or even recent books. Think Don Draper of Mad Men. Coolest guy in the world? Absolutely. Cold, tormented, war-damaged alcoholic? That too. And that's the real James Bond. The James Bond of Fleming and the James Bond of Solo...if you think about it.

U.S. edition
Okay, enough about The Man, what about the plot? Does Solo have a ripping good story? The answer is...somewhat.

(Spoilers ahead)
Solo challenges convention, both as a Bond novel and as a thriller. Boyd is not a thriller writer and he doesn't try to be. The book is not packed with twists, not a single chapter ends in a cliffhanger, and there is no countdown to Armageddon. You walk with OO7 in this book, you don't run with him. The plot peels away slowly (sometimes very slowly) and is resolved with an explanation, not a shoot-out. It's much more of a mystery than a thriller. You might even go as far to say Solo's mostly a character study. But none of this is criticism. Not to join the mob of Devil May Care bashers (I enjoyed the book myself), but while reading Solo I couldn't help but think that this was the mature Bond book from a seasoned writer that we all expected from Sebastian Faulks.

But this also means Solo doesn't have a central show-stopping moment -- no Casino Royale torture scene or Goldfinger buzz saw. That's how Fleming often overcame his own penchant for plots that sometimes meandered. And Boyd misses some easy opportunities to build suspense. A prime example is Bond's meeting with the mysterious Gen. Adeka. Shouldn't Boyd have taken his Heart of Darkness idea here all the way and had OO7 gripping a gun or knife in his pocket ready to complete his mission for M? Then the revelation of Adeka's condition would have had even greater impact. Instead, it's unclear what, if anything, Bond is intending to do other than actually interview the General. It's as if both Boyd and Bond have forgotten the mission completely. If I have a complaint about Solo, it's that Bond's plans are too often ad hoc.

But what Boyd does better than many of his fellow continuation authors is his handling of female characters and sex. Solo is a sexy, even erotic book. But it's also kinky and carnal. Bond's observations of the women of Solo are highly voyeuristic (literally in the case of Bryce), and Boyd takes his time building up lust for Blessing in both Bond and the reader. When it finally culminates, its not only sexy, but also a little alarming. It's a kill rather than a winking conquest and certainly not love. All that can come after is loss, which Boyd, like Fleming, heaps onto his secret agent.

Boyd also fearlessly upends the convention of the Bond villain. Bond's main antagonist in Solo is Kobus Breed (think Sharlto Copley), who's really more of a henchman. I kept waiting for the revelation of the main villain -- the Blofeld in the volcano pulling the strings. Boyd even hints at a master villain throughout. But in the end the villain in the volcano is just a collection of legally operating oil companies. The only lawbreakers are the blood-soaked Bond and Breed. The true villain is indifference to suffering and greed. The villain is the future. And the villain wins. For James Bond the only future is to be stalked by the past (literally), and the reality that he probably can't afford the new car he covets; a Jensen FF Mark I. The future for James Bond is greater darkness, greater loneliness, and more alcohol.

But if you hadn't caught on in the proceeding 232 pages, the ending of Solo is your final clue that what you just read was not a thriller or action book and certainly not an adventure of jolly old James Bond OO7. It was the next -- and maybe last -- chapter of Ian Fleming's dark man in silhouette. A man we have not heard from in a very long time.

Solo is available now in the UK from Jonathan Cape ( and the U.S. from Harper (

Wednesday, October 9, 2013


Ian Fleming Publications announced today that the bestselling Young Bond series will return in Fall of 2014 in the first of four new books penned by author Steve Cole. Here's the official press release:

Steve Cole (Photo © Paul Wilkinson)
We are delighted to announce that a new series of four YOUNG BOND titles will be published by Random House from Autumn 2014, penned by Steve Cole.

Cole, who takes over from the original creator of Young Bond, Charlie Higson, is the author of a number of hugely successful children’s books – including the Astrosaurs series and several authorised Doctor Who novels. He is a lifelong fan of Fleming’s Bond novels:

‘I first encountered Bond in print as a teenager, when I read From a View to a Kill. Fleming´s writing was so vivid and authentic, Bond and the world he inhabited seemed suddenly real to me – and the danger and glamour led me through book after book. It´s both a thrilling privilege and an exciting challenge now to be shaping a new era in the life of such an iconic character – with many firsts and surprises to come as James´s life in the dangerous 1930s develops.’ 
Cole’s first Young Bond novel will launch with a bang in Autumn 2014. It will be published in hardback on RHCP’s highly respected Jonathan Cape children’s imprint.

Whilst Higson’s five novels chart Bond’s childhood at Eton and his introduction to the world of espionage, Cole’s first title will pick up where By Royal Command (2008) left off and will follow teenage James in the aftermath of his expulsion from Eton. This period in Bond’s life has never been explored before and readers can expect all the thrills, action, glamour and tension that are the essential ingredients of a classic Bond adventure.

Philippa Dickinson, Managing Director of Random House Children’s Publishing, says, ‘I’m absolutely delighted to be working with Ian Fleming Publications to publish a new quartet of Young Bond adventures. The period when James Bond would have been a teenager was an extraordinary time – a perfect setting for thrilling storytelling for young adults. Steve Cole is an exceptional storyteller with a wonderful ability to connect with his readers. A winning combination.’

Random House Children’s Publishing have acquired UK and Commonwealth rights in four titles from Ian Fleming Publications Ltd, the first of which will be published in hardback in Autumn 2014. Corinne Turner, Managing Director of IFPL, comments, ‘Steve Cole is an imaginative and engaging author whose plots are addictive and gripping, so we were thrilled when he agreed to steer Young Bond through his mid-teen years. As publishers of Ian Fleming’s original Bond books and William Boyd’s new Bond continuation novel, SOLO, Random House are the perfect partner to work with us in bringing the next generation of Young Bond books to life. On behalf of Ian Fleming Publications and the Fleming family, I’d like to welcome Steve Cole to the exciting world of 007 – we can’t wait to see what scrapes James gets into next.’

Exciting news! (And it looks like there was some validity in this after all.)

Click here to read my five part series on The Secret History of Young James Bond.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013


William Boyd's new James Bond novel Solo is released today in the U.S. and Canada by Harper Collins. The new book finds 007 in action in West Africa and Washington, D.C. (which makes Solo the first Bond novel since 1998's The Facts of Death by Raymond Benson to have an American setting).

Solo is the third installment in IFPs series of continuation James Bond novels by established authors. These books have experimented with the James Bond timeline -- Sebastian Faulks' Devil May Care was set in 1968 while Carte Blanche by Jeffrey Deaver rebooted Bond into 2010. Boyd's novel is firmly rooted in the Fleming timeline (explained in a foreword) with the action taking place in 1969.

I'll be posting a full review of Solo later this week, but know that this is a remarkable Bond book, the likes of which we have not seen for a very long time. For many of us, this is the James Bond book we've been waiting for.

William Boyd will not be doing a U.S. book tour, but he will be doing a signing event in New York City. I'll post details on that as soon as a get them.*

You can purchase Solo as a hardcover, audiobook, a large print paperback, or as an eBook from

UPDATE: It looks like William Boyd did his signing event at The Mysterious Bookshop in New York City.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Does SOLO contain clues to a YOUNG BOND SERIES 2?

For a while we've been getting hints of a possible Young Bond series 2 penned by a new author rather than Charlie Higson. We know that this new series would be set in Fettes in Edinburgh where James Bond attended school after being expelled from Eton for his "trouble with a maid" (dramatized in Higson's final Young Bond novel, By Royal Command). Now is there a clue to this new series embedded in the pages of William Boyd's new James Bond novel, Solo?

On pages 214-217, Bond has chance meeting in Washington D.C.'s Dulles airport with an old friend from Fettes named Turnbull "Bloater" McHarg (the chapter is actually titled "Bloater"). The four-page passage, which only relates to the plot in minor way, is curiously detailed and includes the names of Bond's friends and fellow Judo Club members at Fettes:

He winked. "Do you ever see anything of the old crowd? Bowen major, Cromarty, Simpson, MacGregor-Smith, Martens, Tweedie, Mostyn, and whatsisname, you know, the earl's son, Lord David White of--"

"No," Bond interrupted, flatly, keen to stem the flood of forgotten names. "I haven't seen anybody at all. Not one. Ever."

Could this be a deliberate seeding of a new Fettes-set Young Bond series? Could Boyd have already read the manuscript for the first book? Recall that in Devil May Care Sebastian Faulks included a deliberate nod to the Young Bond novel, Double or Die.

It might make sense that after three adult Bond novels -- this last one returning 007 to the Fleming timeline -- IFP might see fit to resurrect the bestselling Young Bond series.

Always fun to speculate.

Click here to read my five part series on The Secret History of Young James Bond.

Solo is available now in the UK from Jonathan Cape ( The U.S. edition from Harper will be released on Tuesday (

UPDATE: Official: Young Bond returns in 2014.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Mission accomplished

Thursday, October 3, 2013

CASINO ROYALE 60th Anniversary Bentley Special Edition

Somewhat lost in the all the Solo news last week was the announcement of another major James Bond release coming November 1st. To mark the 60th anniversary of Ian Fleming’s classic Casino Royale, Vintage Classics and Bentley Motors will release a "luxury limited edition" of the 1953 novel that introduced the world to OO7. Here's the full press release:

Vintage Classics and Bentley Motors create luxury special edition to mark 60 years of Casino Royale

Featuring new introduction from Sir Stirling Moss

‘Bond’s car was his only personal hobby. One of the last of the 4 ½ litre Bentleys with the supercharger by Amherst Villiers, he had bought it almost new in 1933 and had kept it in careful storage throughout the war… Bond drove it hard and well and with an almost sensual pleasure.’ Ian Fleming, Casino Royale, 1953

As part of the James Bond celebrations this week to continue the 60th anniversary of Ian Fleming’s first James Bond novel, Casino Royale, it is today announced that Vintage Classics has partnered with Bentley Motors to create a luxury limited edition of the book that introduced Special Agent 007 to the world.

The special edition features an exclusive introduction from racing legend, Sir Stirling Moss, making it a true collector’s item. Just 500 editions will be produced, each costing £750.

The Bentley is James Bond’s car of choice in the original Fleming novels and Ian Fleming was a huge admirer of the Bentley Boys, seduced by their adventures on the racing track. In his introduction, Sir Stirling Moss comments: ‘When it came to cars Fleming really knew his stuff… he must have known that the fabulous pre-war Bentleys won at Le Mans four years in a row from 1927-30.’ This iconic edition aims to capture that spirit of adventure and the glamour associated with these leading British brands.

The book has been created by designers Kris Potter and Stephen Parker at Random House, who were inspired following a trip to the Bentley Motors HQ in Crewe. They comment: ‘We knew that any design we came up with would have to reflect the incredible craftsmanship and heritage we had seen in the Bentley cars at Crewe, the challenge for us was how we could combine this with the coolness and nostalgia of Bond... The inspiration was endless.’

From the hand-bound beluga leather casing to distinctive Bentley features such as hand-stitched embroidery and silver foil page edges, this special edition of Casino Royale is produced with only the very finest materials. Its striking red, white and black colouring is a nod to the gambling theme of Fleming’s first novel, where Bond famously takes on his adversary, Le Chiffre, over a game of baccarat. A special feature of this edition is the bespoke set of playing cards, hidden within a secret compartment.

Click to enlarge.

Key features of the design:

* Presented in an elegant leather clamshell case, this edition of Fleming’s best-loved Bond book is an object of automotive craftsmanship.

* The case and special edition are bound in beluga coloured leather, sourced from the tannery in Italy which provides hides for Bentley’s interiors.

* Using Bentley’s craftsmanship, this edition features the iconic double stitching and signature winged Bentley logo – all hand stitched on the leather casing.

* Bentley’s trademark knurling adorns the metal spine. This feature is inspired by the Bentley steel tread plate.

* Each book has a limitation marque with Ian Fleming’s signature, reflecting the plate you would find on a Bentley engine.

* Throughout each book are evocative brush illustrations by the Award winning illustrator Damian Gascoigne.

* Removing the book from the clamshell reveals a hidden compartment. Within this secret compartment lies a leather-bound case of Bentley Bond playing cards.

Click to enlarge.

Published on 13 April 1953 by Jonathan Cape, Casino Royale introduced James Bond to the world. The first print run of 4,728 copies sold out within a month. Following this initial success, Fleming went on to publish a Bond title every year until his death in 1964. It is in Casino Royale where 007 first utters the immortal line ‘Bond - James Bond’ and where Bond first reveals his recipe for the famous Martini cocktail, christened the ‘Vesper’ after the first Bond girl, Vesper Lynd. The artwork for the original cover was designed by Fleming himself, decorated with a heart motif to reflect a playing card.

2013 is an exciting year for Bond publishing. Earlier this year to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Casino Royale, Random House –which houses Fleming’s original publisher, Jonathan Cape - released new editions of Fleming’s non-fiction books Thrilling Cities and The Diamond Smugglers. Today, Jonathan Cape published the next authorised James Bond continuation novel, Solo by William Boyd.

The book is available from 1st November 2013 exclusively from Random House and is available to customers globally, excluding the USA and Philippines. Orders can be placed through a dedicated Random House phone number.

From the UK: 01206 255666
From outside the UK: +44 1206 255666
Click to enlarge.

Quotes on the design of the special edition

“Bentley is very pleased to have been asked to get involved in the design of this very special book. We have worked closely with the team at Vintage to develop a design that has the same luxurious feel and quality of finish as the finest cars in the World.” Harry Cooklin, Marketing Communications Manager, Bentley Motors Ltd:

Tom Drake-Lee, Vintage Sales Director and Bond Brand Manager:

‘Bentley’s focus on hand-craftsmanship and their use of high-end materials made them an irresistible partner for the anniversary special edition of Casino Royale. It’s a spectacular combination of three of Britain’s iconic brands – Bond, Bentley and Vintage.’

Statement from Kris Potter and Stephen Parker, Designers, Random House

‘We knew that any design we came up with would have to reflect the incredible craftsmanship and heritage we had seen in the Bentley cars at Crewe, the challenge for us was how we could combine this with the coolness and nostalgia of Bond. We were inspired by all the details we saw at Crewe from the iconic double stitching of the leather interior, the power-lines of the body work, the machine turned panels, embroidered head rests, to the bright works of the engraved tread-plates and the engine limitation plates. The inspiration was endless.

For visual references from the book the casino setting seemed an obvious place to start and we felt there should be a strong visual link to the imagery associated with casinos and playing baccarat. The colours of the playing cards, the textures and the excitement of the casino itself informed our choice of colour palette of black, white and red of the nine of hearts. As Bond’s fate hangs on the turn of the nine of hearts card, the idea came to us that if we could hide some playing cards within the book it would both increase the feeling of interaction as well as reinforcing the sense of espionage. We wanted the book to have unexpected elements and a playfulness.

We wanted to enhance the enjoyment of the book for our readers by embellishing the pages with evocative brush illustrations. Award-winning illustrator Damian Gascoigne was commissioned to highlight key points from the text with simple line, giving the pages an energy that embodies both the thrill and excitement of the book. They give glimpses of the plot whilst providing a decorative balance to the text design.

The black leather box is a clam shell design of impressive scale when opened. We wanted this to have real impact and to echo the desire for the unexpected we had seen at Bentley we chose to line the box with a shock of red, only visible in a small flash from the outside. The book itself sits proud from the box and is bound in the same leather highlighting the craftsmanship of Bentley with the use of embroidery on the title and logo and the double stitching. Lastly we incorporated the tread plate design we had seen at Bentley for the spine, which has its own metal plate set into the leather, this has been echoed on the page edges with the use of silver foil.

For the hidden playing cards we wanted to reflect the interior of the cars and looked to the beautiful machine turned panels that would have been in the Bentley Blower driven by Bond in the book. We utilised the dark and light variants to differentiate between the two packs. We wanted the box containing the cards to have the same red lining as the main box and again to have that flash of red around the opening.’ 
Click to enlarge.

The Casino Royale Bentley Special Edition will be released November 1st, 2013 exclusively from Random House and is available to customers globally, excluding the USA and Philippines. Orders can be placed through a dedicated Random House phone number.

From the UK: 01206 255666

From outside the UK: +44 1206 255666

With thanks to Ceri Maxwell of Vintage Books.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Do Not Disturb

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Do Not Disturb

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