Chess Books - How Many?

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Ken McNulty
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Chess Books - How Many?

Post by Ken McNulty » Mon Jun 13, 2016 1:00 pm

I had a new chess book delivered to my workplace today, which a colleague showed some interest in and couldn't believe that an entire book was dedicated to just a single opening. He proceeded to ask me the following question: "How many different chess books are there then?"

Well, taking into consideration books on specific openings, endings, tactics, game collections etc. etc. the most 'accurate' answer I was able to offer him was "Oh, thousands!", so I tried Googling for the answer but couldn't find any more accurate answer than my own.

So is there any way of finding this out, or what's the best guess as to how many different chess books have actually been published?

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Christopher Kreuzer
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Re: Chess Books - How Many?

Post by Christopher Kreuzer » Mon Jun 13, 2016 1:26 pm

I don't think you will get a definitive answer, but starting points would be:

(i) Library catalogues
(ii) Publisher catalogues

The number will vary with time, - I wonder if the current era is the peak for chess publication, or if there were more works being published in the past? In some ways it is easier now to bring a work to the market if you are only going for e-publishing, but the numbers sold may be less.

I'd be interested to know what proportion of all books (with a loose definition of 'book') currently published are chess books? If you go by number of works produced (depending on whether you include different editions of the same work) then the number will be some small percentage. If you go by number of actual books produced (i.e. numbers printed) and sold, than the percentage would likely decrease, as chess is a specialist and niche market.

Roger de Coverly
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Re: Chess Books - How Many?

Post by Roger de Coverly » Mon Jun 13, 2016 1:30 pm

Ken McNulty wrote: So is there any way of finding this out, or what's the best guess as to how many different chess books have actually been published?
As far as the UK is concerned, the three copyright libraries of the Bodleian in Oxford, the University library in Cambridge and the British Library in London are supposed to have copies of everything. In practice there are some titles that slip through the net. If you can access their catalogue by subject, that's an approach.

Another idea is to search Amazon by subject. This will contain second hand books as well as those currently in print, but by its nature it's only a relative count.

As of writing, "Books/Chess" gives a count of 5625, whilst "Books/Bridge Card Games" gives 1819 and "Books/Poker" 2063. "Books/Cricket" gives 5234 and "Books/Football" 21092.

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Christopher Kreuzer
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Re: Chess Books - How Many?

Post by Christopher Kreuzer » Mon Jun 13, 2016 1:33 pm

The British Library's British National Bibliography lists "the books and new journal titles published or distributed in the United Kingdom and Ireland since 1950":

http://bnb.bl.uk/

If you search for chess, you get 2,523 results, of which most are books.

The most prolific author is Raymond Keene (94).
Fischer (28) and Kasparov (25) are the most popular subjects.

This is probably not entirely accurate, as the claim here is that there are only 49 chess opening books.
Unless they are not classifying the books properly.

There are more books published outside the UK and before 1950.

Are you limiting the count to English-language or all books worldwide?

Tim Harding will be able to say more about the number of books at The Hague repository (Koninklijke Bibliotheek - National Library of the Netherlands, includes one of the world's biggest chess books collections).

https://www.kb.nl/en/resources-research ... collection

"The chess and draughts collection consists of ca. 30.000 titles."

Not sure what the split between chess and draughts is there - weighted towards chess I presume.

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Christopher Kreuzer
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Re: Chess Books - How Many?

Post by Christopher Kreuzer » Mon Jun 13, 2016 1:41 pm

More here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chess_libraries

This states that Cleveland Public Library has 32,000 chess books and 6,000 bound volumes of chess periodicals.

Lothar Schmid's collection was claimed to have between 20,000 and 50,000 books.

Does anyone know what happened to Schmid's collection?

MJMcCready
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Re: Chess Books - How Many?

Post by MJMcCready » Mon Jun 13, 2016 2:52 pm

I once saw a programme about the 'perceived' paper shortage in the early 90s. I woman was complaining about 'needless' publications claiming that 19 books are published on chess each month. I would imagine she was referring to those published in English, probably through UK publishers as it was a British programme. I don't think the world of publishing is united globally in any sense so I doubt whether you can gain anything other than an approximation. Finding out how many books are published in Cantonese each year would be tricky I would guess.

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Christopher Kreuzer
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Re: Chess Books - How Many?

Post by Christopher Kreuzer » Mon Jun 13, 2016 3:23 pm

Christopher Kreuzer wrote:Does anyone know what happened to Schmid's collection?
A recent update here from March 2016:

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/29e44152-e78a ... z4BT5yWGdg

"A remarkable private collection of early chess pieces is to go under the hammer next month as part of Sotheby’s Arts of the Islamic World auction in London. [...] Among other things, [Schmid] amassed a 50,000-volume library of chess books, including some of the rarest chess texts dating back to 1497. Wolfgang said that next month’s Sotheby’s event would probably be the first of several sales, including of his father’s renowned library. “He was a collector,” Wolfgang said. “We are not.”"

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JustinHorton
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Re: Chess Books - How Many?

Post by JustinHorton » Mon Jun 13, 2016 4:29 pm

Roger de Coverly wrote:As far as the UK is concerned, the three copyright libraries of the Bodleian in Oxford, the University library in Cambridge and the British Library in London are supposed to have copies of everything. In practice there are some titles that slip through the net.
Indeed, I can think of one prolific author, these days published largely by his friends, many of whose more recent books are noticeable for their absence from the British Library catalogue.
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MJMcCready
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Re: Chess Books - How Many?

Post by MJMcCready » Mon Jun 13, 2016 5:32 pm

Did the British Library refuse to take them?

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JustinHorton
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Re: Chess Books - How Many?

Post by JustinHorton » Mon Jun 13, 2016 6:03 pm

I very much doubt they were made aware of their existence.
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Ian Thompson
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Re: Chess Books - How Many?

Post by Ian Thompson » Mon Jun 13, 2016 6:47 pm

JustinHorton wrote:
Roger de Coverly wrote:As far as the UK is concerned, the three copyright libraries of the Bodleian in Oxford, the University library in Cambridge and the British Library in London are supposed to have copies of everything. In practice there are some titles that slip through the net.
Indeed, I can think of one prolific author, these days published largely by his friends, many of whose more recent books are noticeable for their absence from the British Library catalogue.
MJMcCready wrote:Did the British Library refuse to take them?
JustinHorton wrote:I very much doubt they were made aware of their existence.
Another possibility could be that they looked at the text of the book and thought "we've got that already, we don't need it again". :lol:

John Moore
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Re: Chess Books - How Many?

Post by John Moore » Mon Jun 13, 2016 8:37 pm

Christopher Kreuzer wrote:
Christopher Kreuzer wrote:Does anyone know what happened to Schmid's collection?
A recent update here from March 2016:

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/29e44152-e78a ... z4BT5yWGdg

"A remarkable private collection of early chess pieces is to go under the hammer next month as part of Sotheby’s Arts of the Islamic World auction in London. [...] Among other things, [Schmid] amassed a 50,000-volume library of chess books, including some of the rarest chess texts dating back to 1497. Wolfgang said that next month’s Sotheby’s event would probably be the first of several sales, including of his father’s renowned library. “He was a collector,” Wolfgang said. “We are not.”"
Chris - I can't read your "recent update" because it's behind a pay wall but I found it interesting because a great many of Lothar Schmid's books were sold in a series of auctions by Antiquariat A Klittich-Pfankuch GmbH &Co, an auction house in Braunschweig (or Brunswick, if you will). To be fair, I don't remember seeing any of the real rarities but I don't always remember to check their on-line catalogues which often contain very substantial numbers of chess books and magazines with a great many pictures and which are well worth looking at for the collector or even if you are just interested.

The latest catalogue is for their 70th auction which takes place on 16 and 18 June and contains more than 360 lots of Chess material.

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Christopher Kreuzer
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Re: Chess Books - How Many?

Post by Christopher Kreuzer » Mon Jun 13, 2016 9:04 pm

Thanks, John. Presumably the real rarities are being held back or dealt with in other ways.

http://www.klittich-pfankuch.de/auktion.htm

Right down the bottom, lots 632 to 1000, are:

"Schachbücher aus Privatsammlungen" (Chess books from private collections)

http://www.klittich-pfankuch.de/auktio40/AK30.htm

http://www.klittich-pfankuch.de/auktio40/AK35a.htm

I see what you mean about the nice pictures!

In the autographed section, the top-valued item is an autographed drawing of Capablanca:

http://www.klittich-pfankuch.de/auktio40/AK31a.htm

Item number 640 - £1500.

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Christopher Kreuzer
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Re: Chess Books - How Many?

Post by Christopher Kreuzer » Mon Jun 13, 2016 9:12 pm

Some nice photos here as well:

http://www.klittich-pfankuch.de/auktio40/AK32a.htm

Dragonball Chess (who could ever forget that), Star Trek 3D Chess, and something called Solo Chess (that I'd never heard of before). Solo Chess looks like a puzzle book masquerading as a chess clock. It is item 678.

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John Clarke
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Re: Chess Books - How Many?

Post by John Clarke » Tue Jun 14, 2016 8:36 am

I don't know that the size of Lothar Schmidt's collection would be any reliable guide to the number of books published about chess. According to Heinrich Fraenkel ("Assiac"), LS aimed to have every edition in every language a particular book had been published in. As a result, even Assiac's two-volume lifetime output took about a foot of shelf-space in Schmidt's collection!
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