Bargain books on the Middle Ages and all related subjects


Information pages
The FAQ page


Why is Medievalbookshop closing?
Is all stock included in the sale?
The postage rates are VERY confusing!!!!
I'm a book dealer and I'd be interested in buying some of your stock
Why buy secondhand?
Why doesn't the site run from a database?
So how do I find what I want?
What's all this about primary and secondary sources?
Why are the postage charges inconsistent?
Why don't you have a shopping cart?
And credit cards?
I saw a book on this site the other day and now it's gone - why's that?
What is medieval?
What are unused bargains?
I subscribed to your email list - why haven't I received anything lately?
Why hasn't anyone answered my email?
There seems to be a certain amount of inconsistency about the site right now…
What's all this about the ISBN system changing?
What if this page doesn't answer my question?


Why is Medievalbookshop closing down?

First of all, it's only the bookselling side that's closing - please feel free to commission the design side as much as you like.

As for why, it's the net result of a whole range of things, so pick your own favourite answer. Ebooks have made a dent on the secondhand market, but not significantly so. There's some anecdotal evidence that they've actually helped to increase book sales overall, presumably by making people more aware of the range of material that's out there. Amazon has tended to have a run-down effect on the book trade - after having given it a huge boost in the early years - mainly by refusing to address the issue of rising delivery costs, so that it's now becoming difficult for online sales to do better than break even. Related to this, there's a public perception that "books are worth money", which has led to more online sellers than ever deciding to try their luck, and this in turn has created a perception among customers that there's rarely any point in paying more than a few pennies for most titles. A regular scapegoat has been made of the charity trade, but while it might be true that some high street charities have made deliberate efforts to destroy any local business that they perceive as competition, there are also a number of smaller charities in every town, which don't spend a fortune on admin and which do pass on most of their income to the causes they support, and which often develop good relationships with any surviving local booksellers. There are plenty of other factors, but one final thing to mention would be the increasing difficulty of obtaining good stock - while there's no dearth of popular paperbacks around, it's become much harder to find good-quality academic stock, and when desirable titles do turn up, sellers tend to ask more for them than can be obtained from resale.

Medievalbookshop has been running for over twelve years now, and as you'll notice when browsing around, the site has become rather inconsistent in its presentation over that time. A facelift is definitely needed, so it's possible that one day, when the book trade has had a chance to regroup and get its breath back a bit, medievalbookshop might come bouncing back in some form, all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.


Is all stock included in the sale?

Absolutely. If I've still got it, you can have it at the discounts stated on the sale prices page.

Stock is currently being boxed for trade disposal, so everything's a bit disordered and some titles are inaccessible, but if I know you're interested, I'll try and find whatever you're after.


The postage rates are VERY confusing!!!

Yes. Sorry about that.

Medievalbookshop's postage policy went through three distinct stages. In the early days, cataloguing followed the standard book trade practice, where books were priced individually: post & packaging were charged separately at cost, so their price wasn't stated alongside the price of the book. There are still quite a few of these items scattered around the site: to calculate the sale price, simply halve the stated price, and P&P will be charged at cost (for 2015/16, that's usually £3.50 for a standard book, but less for a thin one; in most cases two or three items can be fitted into a standard parcel without increasing the cost).

Stage two, which is the style most frequently found throughout the site, was to assign an individual P&P charge to each item. For sale prices, simply halve the given price for the book, and the P&P price remains as stated.

The final stage was in progress when it was decided to close the business, which was to convert everything to a 'P&P included' price. If you'd like to buy any of these items, you can find the sale price by deducting 30% from the stated price - unfortunately, in many cases, it's not practical to go lower as it wouldn't leave enough to cover the postage!

In all cases, you're welcome to make enquiries without obligation: if you wish to place an order you will be informed of the total cost before confirming, and you're welcome to add or delete items. As previously, if you wish to buy multiple items, postage will be calculated at cost for the package(s) you wish to buy.


I'm book dealer and I'd be interested in buying some (or all) of your stock

Trade enquiries & offers are welcome - use the contact link at the top of this page.


Why buy secondhand books?

Because they're cheap.
Because you can quite often get a used hardback nearly as cheap a new paperback. 
Because you can get something that isn't in print any more.
Because books don't need batteries.
Because that first tiny purchase can be the start of a beautiful long-term love affair with books.

Because you can.


Why doesn't the medievalbookshop site run from a database?

You just can't expect booksellers and databases to get along together. It's like trying to pretend that bullet points are ok.

The current site is text-based, which means that pages can load at their optimum speed, whether you're using a ten-year-old modem or a zippy new broadband: scans of the front covers are gradually being added to the description pages, which will tend to slow down ten-year-old modems a bit. But hopefully not too much. It also means that it doesn't matter what kind of browser or operating system you are using, though some browsers do have problems with the Amazon links on the publishers' announcement pages.

There's lots to browse on the site. The current site design means that by using the navigation links at the bottom of most pages, you can see it all if you want to - there's nothing hidden in a database, which means if you really feel so inclined, you can go through it page by page and item by item - you won't have to try and outsmart a computer to find out where it's hidden.


So how do I find what I want?

Aha. That's one of the F. A. Questions that gets its own page.


What's all this about primary sources and secondary sources?

Basically, primary sources are texts written or in use during the middle ages, secondary sources are books written by later authors about the middle ages (so on this site, usually post-1600 or so).

When the site was first set up this seemed a sensible method to use. It's familiar to most users from the bibliographies in printed books, so it doesn't take long to get used to on the web site.

As the site grew, it became increasingly obvious that not all books fit comfortably into either of these categories, so new ones were been created, and there is now a substantial choice of specialist subject pages (with one or two new ones being added most months). Consider the organisation of the site an ongoing project, one which will undoubtedly come to fruition within the lifetimes of many of us.

You can check what's currently available by clicking here. Pages to Browse by series and Browse by publisher are also now online, as is one to Browse by language (for books not written in English).


Why are the postage charges inconsistent?

When Medievalbookshop first started, it followed the standard book trade practice of pricing each package individually. While this meant customers only had to pay the price charged by the post office, some found it confusing because there was no indication of how much might be charged on top of the price of the book. Older pages on the site are still presented in this format.

Later on, stock was presented with a postage price following the book price, so that customers could see the total at a glance, and later still, this practice was consolidated by giving just a single price including P&P.

All three of these formats can be found in various places throughout the site, and as the bookselling business is closing they will not now be consolidated, so please feel welcome to make a no-obligation enquiry about any titles that are of interest.


Why don't you have a shopping cart?

Sore point, that. Unfortunately shopping cart systems are time consuming to construct and don't cope well with large numbers of unique items (such as secondhand books with only one copy of each in stock). Consider it under consideration, in a very, very long term kind of way…


And credit cards?

Medievalbookshop has a (very) low turnover, so the charges that would be incurred for running a secure credit card facility are not viable. You can pay by credit card via Paypal (see Paypal's website for details). If you wish, I can get Paypal to send you a payment link by email, which makes the process pretty much painless.

If you don't wish to use Paypal, I can also load books onto the Amazon.co.uk site, but please note that doing this can be more expensive (Amazon charges a commission, and their standard postage charges make it more expensive for smaller items).


I saw a book on this site the other day and now it's gone - why's that?

Someone has either bought or reserved it: it might still show up on searches, because the indexes are only refreshed about once a month.

Even if the book you want seems to have disappeared, you are welcome to enquire: if it has been reserved, then you can get first call on it if the sale falls through; and if it has been bought, you can register your interest in case another copy becomes available.


What is medieval?

It's a very big question. So it gets its own page.


What are unused bargains?

Exactly what they sound like  - see the unused FAQ pages.


Where do your books come from?

Various sources. A large number from other dealers - you wouldn't believe the number of books in circulation that haven't seen a "real" customer in years. Some from charity shops, though nothing like as many as urban legend might have you expect: the days of finding a hugely valuable rarity for 10p are long past, if indeed they ever were more than an optimistic myth. Warehouse sales and bulk sellers, of course: very useful source of slightly (and not so slightly) bashed but unused stock. And of course, once in a while, from you, dear reader.


What are unused bargains?

Exactly what they sound like  - see the unused FAQ pages.


I subscribed to your email list - why haven't I received anything lately?

Alas (as you may have gathered), the bookselling side of the business is now closing, and regular mailouts are no longer sent out. There's a remote possibility that the bookselling side of the business may be revived in some form at a later date, so the email list is being retained. Please use the contact link at the top of the page to say if you'd no longer wish to be included on the list.


Why hasn't anyone answered my email?

If I've received it and if it's not spam, I've usually sent you an answer. However, the business only runs part-time and sometimes I only pick up email once a day (sometimes less often), so you won't always get an answer the same day.

Email isn't perfect - usually messages end up where they're intended, but there are several technical problems that can occur. For instance, your original message might not arrive, or my replies could bounce back without being delivered. If your email programme allows it, activate the receipt request button every time you send an email - that way you'll know if it hasn't been received.

The important thing is you should know you're not just being ignored - if nothing seems to be happening via email, you're welcome to phone.

Emails with blank subject lines or message fields will usually be rejected by spam filters. If you sent a blank request to join the mailing list, please note that legally I can't act on it without a specific message - you need to make a clear request in either the subject line or the message field that you want to join the mailing list.


There seems to be a certain amount of inconsistency about the site right now…

Well, yes.

The bookselling business ran for over twelve years, and from time to time, new information categories would be added to the catalogue pages, so that now you can find examples from all stages of development.


What's all this about the ISBN system changing?

Watch this space. Or more sensibly, have a look around the web. The 10-digit ISBN system has apparently come to the end of its useful life, so at the beginning of 2007 a new 13-digit system was "introduced" (the quote marks because it's actually been around for years, as part of each book's barcode, but nobody took much notice of it before).

Current policy is for medievalbookshop's descriptions to list whatever's printed on the book itself, so an ISBN number may be exist for a particular title even if it doesn't appear on the medievalbookshop catalogue page.


What if this page doesn't answer my question?

You can use the links at the top of the page to get in touch.