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The details of Changeable Gentlemen, produced by R Ackermann in 1819 and also shown here, explain the game: “Being an entirely novel Assemblage of moveable Human Features, calculated to afford an inexhaustible source of rational amusement…”

Analysis from market research company Mintel forecasts that new book sales will be up 6% on last year, and is likely to continue for the next five years, indicating a healthy market.

Ebooks, once seen as a major threat to the physical book, is now finding a level. Good news also comes from the antiquarian and second-hand book trade. York book dealer Janette Ray, organiser of the PBFA’s prestigious annual York Book Fair, the largest in Europe, says: “Book fairs seem to be back in fashion or heading that way.”

The York fair runs Friday-Saturday, September 15- 16, at the city’s racecourse. The event has managed to keep up its 2000 public visiting numbers.

Ray adds: “Two other PBFA fairs I exhibit at consistently are Edinburgh and Oxford. Both Edinburgh in March and Oxford in April were buzzing, with both having noticeably more visitors this year.

“Dealers’ bookings this year at York are at a capacity 224 with a number of international dealers taking stands, including Bauman Rare Books from New York and Voyager Books from Vancouver.

“Equally, the fair attracts British dealers who exhibit internationally including Sophie Schneideman and, exhibiting for the first time in York, Deborah Coaltham, who specialises in books on medicine and in particular women working in this field.”

pbfa.org