Over at Tone Deaf in Bangkok, Janet is guiding us around the used bookstore of Thailand. I am envious--what if she discovers a huge collection of British girls books, including such gems as Joy's New Adventure, by Elsie Oxenham, A Wind is Blowing, by Monica Edwards, and Words and Music, by William Mayne (all of which are books I cannot afford). I have left her a comment asking about this, wondering if I need to add Thailand to my global book buying itinerary.
It's easy enough to go to the UK to go book shopping, but the problem with the UK is that there are a lot of people there who also are going book shopping (no offense). Much better to be the first collector, of, say, Elsie Oxenham, to visit some obscure outpost of Empire. I've missed two good chances--Kenya and Bermuda, where I went for archaeological reasons long before I knew about many of the authors I now love. It's true that in Kenya I was up in the north, near the Ethiopian boarder, where there were no book stores, and in Bermuda I was on a small island, with few trips into town. But still, I have had known then what I know now, I would have tried. And when I was in Pakistan, visiting friends and family, why didn't occur to me to ask if there was anywhere to buy books? Sure, I came home with a lovely camel hanging and some cushion covers, but what if there had been books, and I blew my chance.
And I am sure that somewhere in Nigeria there is a cache of English children's books, waiting... Sadly, I've only ever been to French West African countries, so pas de joie, as they say (?). But someday I shall go to the British Virgin Islands (sure, it's a couple hundred dollars more than the American ones, but worth it). And someday I shall visit the used book market of Cairo...
If you zoom in, you can see something that looks like an Oxenham...or maybe not.