Mind the gaps
Searching for a book with a known author and title can be very hard. Searching for books where you know neither title nor author is even harder. But that’s where I am with many of the UK Services Editions that I have been searching for now for over 25 years. There are probably 231 Guild Services Editions, numbered from S1 to S231. I say probably because I have copies of fewer than 200 of these books, in any printing or any state, and there is no complete checklist of the other titles, although I’ve gradually been building one up. Much as I’d like to build a complete collection of these books, I’m even more interested in just finding out what they are.
As an example, I’m pretty sure that there’s a Guild book numbered S5 somewhere, published in 1943, but I have no clue at all who the author is or what the title is. The initial print run was probably 50,000 copies, and it may even have been reprinted, but I can find no evidence at all of a single copy anywhere on the internet, either in a library or for sale.
For Collins Services Editions the position is a little better – there are 20 gaps in the checklist where I can’t identify authors or titles, but I have a pretty good indication of what 17 of the books are, just not what order they come in. That still leaves 3 books, numbered c327, c328 and c330 where I have no clue to the author or title, except that I think they’re probably westerns.
For some of the other smaller series, it’s even more difficult, as there is no numbering of the books. I have copies of 10 Hodder & Stoughton Services Yellowjackets, and know of 5 more that are reported to exist, but I am pretty sure that there are more than 15 in total. I don’t know authors, I don’t know titles, I don’t know series numbers or printing dates, or print runs, and I don’t know how many different books there are, but they’re out there somewhere! Let me know if you spot one! (Update August 2017: The number of known books has now crept up to 17, and I have copies of 14 of them. There are probably still more.)