This set of reviews of books about Newfoundland and Labrador now consists of several sections:
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- "Introduction" [this section]
- "Newest Reviews", consisting of only the group of book reviews added most recently
- "Title Index", in order by title, with links to the individual book reviews
- "Author Index", in order by author, with an introduction and links to the individual book reviews
- "Index by Letter", with links to the twenty-six sections of individual book reviews. This is the way to browse
This list currently consists of brief reviews of 1146 books about Newfoundland and Labrador, the most recent group added being
for July 2010.
Each review includes the title, year of publication (year of original publication if known), name(s) of author(s) or editor(s),
and a rating. The rating consists of a number and a descriptive term - 3-NotRecommended, 4-NotRecommended, 5-Fair, 6-Good,
7-VeryGood, and 8-Excellent. The numbers 5.5, 6.5 and 7.5 are also used as intermediate grades (for example, 6.5-Good means
better than Good, but less than VeryGood). A rating of "3" means that the book is either just not worth the effort to plow
through or has virtually no Newfoundland content; a "4" means not too bad, but also not really worth the time investment; a
"5" means ok, not bad, maybe better in some places than in others, not exciting; a "6" means a generally enjoyable, if not
inspiring, read; a "7" is good enough to look forward to reading each succeeding chapter; and an "8" is pretty much quality
cover to cover, often the sort of book that you want to devour in a single sitting. A special rating of "un" is used only in
the "Author Index" to show that certain books are "unreviewed" because, although appearing in the Newfoundland and Labrador
Public Libraries catalog as being in the NL collection, and often having subjects described in the same catalog as being related
to Newfoundland and/or Labrador, they are actually devoid of local content, other than that in some cases the author was born
in or lives in the province.
The comments and ratings are strictly those of the reviewer, and are based largely on how enjoyable the book was to read, how
entertaining, and, in the case of non-fiction, how informative. The reviewer's interest in the subject matter is sometimes a
consideration. The Newfoundland content of the book is the overwhelmingly important and primary consideration. These reviews
are based on actually reading the books, rather than just excerpting from the glowing tributes usually found on the back covers
or dust jackets. Was there ever published a book so bad that the publisher couldn't include praiseful quotes, even if the author
or the publisher had to create them? Apparently not! Back covers tend to portray every book, regardless of quality, as being a
prize deserving work of timeless literature!
A book's thickness does not have any necessary relationship to quality or quantity of content.
Some fairly thick books are full of information but are also boring, while some relatively thin
books are both informative and interesting. A book may be thick due to heavy paper rather than
high page count. A thick book with large type, generous line spacing, and wide page margins may
have less content than a thin book with smaller type, tighter line spacing, and smaller page margins.
[format] is the size of the book in inches, across by height, so for example [11x9 format] means a
book 11 inches wide by 9 inches tall. The format is mentioned when a book is either not in upright
format or is of an unusual size.
Many of these books are currently in print, some have been reprinted, while some
are doubtless out of print and only available as used.
Additions will be made from time to time. These additions will each have a date appended to
the right of the rating, for example "6-Good [2008-Mar]", to make searching for recent
additions easier. The most recent group of reviews are contained in the Newest Reviews section, in the order written
with the newest first, and are also included within the main alphabetical list.
How to find these books? For those who are fortunate enough to live within the Province of Newfoundland and
Labrador, the public library system should have most of the books reviewed here. If a specific book is
not available at your local library, it is probably available through interlibrary loan. Some books may be
non-circulating, requiring a visit to the A. C. Hunter Public Library at the Arts & Culture Centre in St. John's.
For those who live away, the primary way to obtain these books is to buy them. And the easiest way to buy
books about Newfoundland is online (on the web).
The online market for Newfoundland books consists of five broad segments: several used book consortiums, each made up of many
individual member dealers; a few large internet sellers that carry used books (acting as a consortium); a few used book dealers
that carry a good selection of Newfoundland books; a few retail sellers of new books; and a few sites with free book downloads.
The used book consortiums are basically clearing houses for hundreds or even thousands of independant booksellers, providing
them with a forum in which to list their books for sale and for potential buyers to find those books. These consortiums include:
, claiming over 60 million books;
, claiming over 50 million books;
, claiming over 110 million books;
claiming over 7 million books from mostly European sellers. Amazon
can also be lumped into this category, and is probably the biggest vendor of them all.
Of these, I deal mostly with Alibris
, and Amazon
. And of these four, I prefer to
deal with Alibris
whenever possible, for reasons detailed below.
the customer deals only with Alibris
, meaning that there is only one credit card transaction for the
entire order, while with the others there are separate credit card transactions for each seller, leading to not only
numerous credit card slips, but numerous emails as each vendor makes contact. Alibris
also handles all returns,
cancellations and other credits.
, and Amazon
there is a bookseller rating visible (but not so at Biblio
looking at the listing for an individual book, at Alibris
there is a rating of up to 5 colored circles labeled "Reliability"
under the dealer's name, while at AbeBooks
the rating is up to 5 colored stars labeled "Bookseller Rating", and at
the "Rating" is up to five colored stars plus additional details. While neither Alibris
defines exactly what goes into the ratings, I've noticed that a couple of sellers that I've been unhappy with have low ratings.
employs a feedback system wherein the buyer can leave a rating for a seller.
All of the consortiums have decent search engines, but at Alibris
you only see one copy of each title, with the
further ability to then view all available copies, while with the others you see all copies at all times, making browsing
through titles much more tedious. [Note that at Alibris
the cheapest copy of a book is not necessarily the one that
you'll see first.] As an example, a search done in July on the keyword "Newfoundland" resulted in about 500 hits on Alibris
about 9,000 on Biblio
, about 19,000 on AbeBooks
, and about 33,000 on Amazon
. But numbers are deceiving!
search yielded the greatest number of hits, but the results are repetitious (every copy of every book is
presented), bloated (many books listed are noted as being unavailable), and can be sorted by neither title nor author -
meaning a brute force browse! The Alibris
search shows only one copy of each title (a click reveals all copies), and can
be sorted by title or author. Knowing an author or title is a big plus when dealing with the biggest providers.
None of the consortiums has all of the titles available that each of the others has, so you may need to search more than
one for a specific title. And since a dealer may list his books on more than one of the consortiums, and at differing prices
and with differing shipping costs, it is usually worth the effort to price compare before ordering.
Shipping charges vary significantly, especially if you live in one country (such as the USA) and buy a book from a vendor
in another country (such as Canada). A typical book shipped within the USA would cost between about $2 and $4 in postage,
but shipping from Canada to the USA would be from around $4 to $10 (these postal rates are based on the postage on a sampling
of many actual book packages). At Alibris
, the shipping is typically a flat rate of about $4 per book
for delivery in the USA regardless of originating country, while at the other consortiums you can usually find the shipping cost
for each individual item before committing to ordering. Many dealers offer a discount on shipping for multiple books in the same
The description of a book is almost always limited to the title, author, publication year, and a description of the physical
characteristics and condition of the book. There is usually no information whatsoever regarding the subject of the book,
apparently assuming that the prospective buyer already has that information. Note that in some cases the same title has been
used by more than one author, so some care is needed to avoid ordering an unwanted book.
All of the consortiums have return policies, and also policies for refunds for undelivered books. Read them carefully - they
all have time limitations. Note that permitted returns are usually limited to misdescribed books or wrong books shipped, not
books that don't turn out to be as interesting as one would have liked.
There is always a chance that a book will be cancelled after being ordered. Some dealers seem to do better than others with
keeping their listings up to date. Cancellations and undelivered books seem to be relatively frequent, but the policy of Alibris
(for example), whereby an 85% fulfillment/delivery rating for a seller is considered acceptable, helps to explain this.
Condition of books is usually carefully noted in the listings. Many of the books are ex-library, and so may be stamped as
"discard" or "withdrawn".
Delivery is almost exclusively through the mail, with expedited shipping available at extra cost. My experience in receiving
books from almost 300 different sellers, is that the vast majority of books are received within about two weeks of ordering.
Now and then one even arrives within a day or two!
Packaging varies, running the gamut from purpose made boxes and mailers through slapped together homemade enclosures. I have not
yet received a book with significant damage from transit.
There are several large internet retailers (besides Amazon
) that sell used books, including Chapters
Barnes & Noble
There are at least two internet retailers of used books in St. John's who specialize in Newfoundland books, one doing business as
Newfoundland and Labrador Bookfinder
and the other Gerald Penney
There is also an internet used book dealer in Halifax, Nova Scotia, who has a good selection of Newfoundland books -
John W. Doull
. All three of these dealers
list at least some of their wares on one or more of the consortiums.
Two decent non-internet sources for used books in the St. John's vicinity are Afterwords Book Store
at 245 Duckworth Street
(toward the east end) and the Mallard Cottage
in Quidi Vidi.
Two good internet sources in Newfoundland for new current books are Tidespoint
and the Downhome Shoppe
. My experience
has been that both have a high fulfillment rate of what they offer.
A good Newfoundland publisher website is Flanker Press
. They have good cover photos and descriptions for all
of their books in stock.
I don't recommend eBay
for purchasing Newfoundland books. Their listings for these books are not numerous at any given
time, and the prices tend to be high.
Downloads can be handy for very old, and often rare and expensive, books. A few sites worth checking are:
lists many books, but many of them
are not available to view or download;
, where many of the books
are text-only transcriptions rather than actual copies of the pages;
the Memorial University of Newfoundland
digital archives at
, where books may be downloaded by clicking the
PDF icon after a book is selected; and
which has a list of books that can be read online or downloaded. Note that downloads in PDF format can be quite large, easily reaching 30 megabytes or more.