10 Backlist Bargains Bestsellers

Backlist Bargains 2011

With just over 2 weeks to go in this year’s Backlist Bargains sale, here is our Top Ten selection from this years bestsellers:

There are still thousands of excellent books available at huge discounts so make the most of this wonderful offer while it lasts.

Browse the Backlist Bargains 2011 catalogue

Book Checks

NHBS Book ChecksEvery month, we add more than 300 new book titles to our catalogue (you can find the list every month in our Monthly Catalogue). Publishers often announce their new titles to us months in advance of publication (which can turn into years…), and we find that by the time the books arrive into stock for the first time, some of the information we had initially catalogued about a title has changed.

The differences between the original announcement and the actual published book can range from a higher page number, or more illustrations, to a change in the order in which the authors are presented, or an amendment to the title or subtitle. Quite often the cover illustration undergoes several transformations. In very rare cases, the book will even have changed publishers. Even so, the earlier we hear about a book the better we like it, even if the finished product will look somewhat different.

In order to keep the information in our catalogue as accurate as it can be, we give each and every book that we have never seen before a thorough bibliographic check – in fact the cataloguing data for nearly every single book needs to be added to or amended. In the office, the new books are always referred to as the “book checks”, and this stack of each day’s book checks is the most popular place in the NHBS warehouse.

At the same time as verifying the bibliographic data, we evaluate the book and decide whether it’s a good fit for featuring on the NHBS homepage, or as a book of the week, and we make sure that the descriptive text reflects the contents of the book accurately.

This method of rigorous checking and evaluating ensures that no book is ever included in our emails, or in a flyer or advert, unless we are comfortable recommending it.

For me, book checking is also one of the most fun jobs ever – books arrive from all over the world, and they have that exciting “new” smell and feel to them. Every now and then there is a true gem amongst them, a book on an unusual subject, or one with truly outstanding illustrations, that turns out to be much more important than the initial cataloguing suggested.

Just last week, the book checks contained some very good titles. Highlights include:

The Crossley ID GuideThe Crossley ID Guide: Eastern Birds – eagerly anticipated by us. We have a pre-publication offer on it until the end of April. My first reaction to seeing this book was that it’s a lot bigger than I thought it would be! I checked out the Steller’s Jay page, as I remember these birds so well from seeing them on the West Coast of Canada, and the illustrations, as promised, are startlingly different from the usual photographic field guide, and seem to make identification very easy. This one is definitely going on the NHBS home page!

A Dipterist's HandbookThe new edition of A Diperist’s Handbook should prove to be popular, as well, it is part of a series of similar handbooks published by the Amateur Entomologists’ Society, and the book production value is outstanding. A very useful addition to any entomologist’s library, and I can’t recall seeing any similar books on the same subject recently.

Loire Valley - Loire, Brenne and SologneA new Crossbill Guide: Loire Valley – Loire, Brenne and Sologne. This series of nature travel guides is one of my favourites and we always look forward to seeing a new one published. Browse all the Crossbill wildlife travel guides.

Human Planet - The Complete Series Blu-rayThe Human Planet Blu-Ray arrived today, and before we could even book it into stock, several people in the office declared their intention of buying a copy for their own use. (This is a recent BBC series, which examines how humans in extreme enviroments adapt to living with nature). The book accompanying the series came into stock last week.

A Field Guide to the Butterflies of Singapore A Field Guide to the Butterflies of Singapore: A well-illustrated photographic guide, published by a specialist natural history publisher in Singapore.

We’re serious about series

A couple of weeks ago we received a pallet of hundreds of brand new copies of the latest title in the New Naturalist series, (Volume 116: Plant Pests), and in our latest Monthly Catalogue we are announcing new volumes in the popular Flora of China Illustrations and Flora of Tropical East Africa, amongst many others. All of these volumes made it straight into our top ten bestseller list.

This serious series activity prompted me to delve into our databases and find out some illuminating statistics concerning book series and volumes.

Fungi of SwitzerlandHow many monographic series are there in the NHBS catalogue?

In 26 years of cataloguing, we have accumulated information on well over 6000 series and multi-volume sets. They range across many subject areas, from botany to birding, from conservation to climate.

Some of the series have sub-series, i.e. a series within a series. I have never really understood why this happens – presumably due to a given volume turning out to be more voluminous than planned? Sub-series certainly add to cataloguer’s stress levels!

At least half of all series are no longer active, i.e. no further volumes are expected to be published. Others have only one or two volumes in our subject range.

In 2010, we added 62 new series to our catalogue, including the Witt Catalogue, the Flora of Nepal, Bats in Captivity, and the Synopses of Conservation Evidence.

How many series do we check for new volumes?

We have developed a system for making sure that we don’t miss any volumes in important monographic series. 300 of our series have standing orders, so we check these regularly as a priority to make sure our standing order customers don’t miss out on any new volumes. We also check series by publisher, by subject matter, and by popularity.

In 2010, including the 62 new series, 341 series have had new volumes added, at an average rate of 2.5 volumes per series.

In all, for every series that had one or more new volumes added to our catalogue in 2010, we checked one more that proved to have no new additions.

Why do we spend so much time cataloguing series?

We want to continue to have the most comprehensive range of Natural History titles on the planet, and we are always on the look-out for new publications, regardless of whether they are part of a series or not.

But, just as importantly, if you, as our customer, have a standing order for a series with NHBS, we have a responsibility to keep the series updated. If we manage to find out about a new volume before publication, we save everybody a lot of time! And, as many new volumes are published with pre-publication special offers, it saves money, too.

Find out more about setting up a standing order with NHBS


NHBS will be opening shop at the annual ICES Annual Science Conference for the first time next week. We are looking forward to meeting the marine science community and are bringing a few hundred books to browse and buy. Do drop by if you are there, we’ll be at Stand 5 at the La Cite Events Center in Nantes, 20 – 24 September.

“ICES was established in 1902 as an intergovernmental organization[…]ICES grew from a small body of likeminded researchers to an organization involving about 1600 scientists, with 20 Member Countries as well as several Observer Countries and non-governmental organizations. ICES fulfils its functions through an Annual Science Conference, about a dozen committees, close to one hundred working and study groups, several annual symposia, and a wide range of publications” From the ICES Strategic Plan – A Vision Worth Sharing(pdf)

Click on any of the images below to see a selection of recent and forthcoming books on marine science:

Coastal Phytoplankton jacket imageMarine Mammal Ecology and Conservation jacket imageWorld Atlas of Mangroves jacket imageAtlantic Salmon Ecology jacket imageDiscoveries of the Census of Marine Life: Making Ocean Life Count jacket image

NHBS at Birdfair 2010

We’ll be out and about next weekend selling books and wildlife equipment in the heart of rural England at the British Birdfair at Rutland Water. If you’re going we look forward to seeing you on the NHBS stand in Marquee 2.

As usual we will be hosting some authors at the NHBS stand – here’s a list of who will be signing copies of their books with us this year:

Friday 20th
11am Dominic Couzens Atlas of Rare Birds

Saturday 21st
11am Nils Van Duivendijk Advanced Bird ID Guide: The Western Palearctic
3pm Alan Davies and Ruth Miller The Biggest Twitch: Around the World in 4,000 Birds

Sunday 22nd
2pm Adrian Thomas RSPB Gardening for Wildlife: A Complete Guide to Nature-friendly Gardening

Atals of Rare Birds jacket imageAdvanced Bird ID Guide: The Western Palearctic jacket imageThe Biggest Twitch: Around the World in 4,000 Birds jacket imageRSPB Gardening for Wildlife jacket image

NHBS Website Temporarily Offline on 6th Jan 2009

All NHBS Environment Bookstore webpages were offline on the 6th of January 2009 for almost 10 hours due to a technical failure with our Internet Service Provider. We are very sorry for any inconvenience caused – if you placed an order on the 6th before our site went offline it should have been processed as usual but please do check with Customer Services if you are concerned.

We are very sorry if you were unable to place an order or lost search results while our site was down. We will be finding a solution with our Internet Service Provider to avoid this happening again in the future. Please don’t hesitate to get in contact if you feel you have been badly affected by this problem.

Again, we’re sorry for this interruption to the service you receive from NHBS.