Ian Fleming's Obsession With Collecting Books
(Evening Standard/Getty Images)
Ian Fleming's Obsession With Book Collecting
Ian Fleming, British author and creator of James Bond, at his desk in his study in 1958 (Express/Express/Getty Images)


From the very beginning, former journalist and naval intelligence officer Ian Fleming had another pressing pastime besides sitting at his golden typewriter: book collecting. Like most bibliophiles, Fleming had a target, looking to piece together a collection of first editions of books about modern civilization: television, atomic fission, birth control, automobiles—no doubt all future resources for the fictional stories he crafted around his title character Bond.

Maybe lesser known to the average American Bond fan is the quarterly Fleming launched in 1952, the year Casino Royale first published. Called simply The Book Collector, it acted as Fleming’s white board for all things books, allowing the author the freedom to geek out about a medium that he had just entered himself. It featured news, reviews, obituaries, and everything else in between. Its launch editor was Fleming’s friend John Hayward, friend and muse to famed poet T.S. Eliot.

Fleming died in 1964, but the quarterly stayed in print well after his death, changing hands a few times until recently making its way back to the late author’s family. Now owned by his nephew James Fleming, The Book Collector has been redesigned, and will come full circle with its March 2017 special issue, which is on Fleming himself. Featured articles include “James Bond Invades America,” “Collecting Ian Fleming,” and “You Only Live Twice, the dust-wrapper.” The issue will also resurrect a Fleming-conceived contest to come up with a 27th letter of the alphabet.

The issue will be printed in limited supply and will cost $45/copy. Subscriptions to The Book Collector are also available at $125/year (but to be eligible to receive the special edition, you’d need to sign up before Feb. 20). Additionally, 150 specially bound copies will sell for $195 a pop; and another 26, lettered A-Z, will go for $375 apiece. All of those orders can be handled here.

Below, watch a rare clip of Fleming talking about he came up with the name “James Bond.”


—Will Levith for RealClearLife