About Dance Books
Dance Books is the UK's only company devoted solely to the publishing of books and related materials on dance and human movement. We publish nearly 200 items and sell by mail order and through booksellers throughout the world. Scroll down for the potted history of Dance Books...
Dance Books Ltd
Dance Books was originally set up in 1960 as a general paperback bookshop, named Pocket Books, by the Australian writer and dance critic Edward Mason. On his early death in 1964, the shop passed to his partner John O'Brien, then a principal dancer with Ballet Rambert. John O'Brien was a fanatical collector of dance books and ephemera, and he started a small section of the bookshop devoted to this material. Shortly after this, Cyril W. Beaumont retired and closed down his own famous shop devoted to dance material, so John O'Brien extended the amount of dance material that Pocket Books stocked, opened new sections devoted to theatre and film, and then changed the name of the shop to The Ballet Bookshop.
In 1968 he took on to the staff a recently qualified librarian, David Leonard who needed a temporary job while he waited for a vacancy to become available in his chosen speciality of music librarianship. The temporary job has so far lasted for nearly 50 years: David was made a director of the company in 1975 and Managing Director in 1982.
In the early 1970s, the amount of dance material published expanded considerably, and the business gradually reduced the amount of space given to film and theatre material until it was phased out altogether. The shop then changed its name to Dance Books Ltd. to reflect the wider range of dance material stocked. It also became apparent that there was a large demand for reprinted editions of out of print dance books, and at this time Dance Books began to cater for this market by setting up its own imprint. The first book published was a reprint of the A. & C. Black edition of the diaries of Marius Petipa, and soon afterwards Dance Books began to publish original material, beginning with a picture book on The Bolshoi Ballet. Since then the company has published nearly 200 books on all aspects of dance and ballet, the majority of them being kept permanently in print.
In 1978, Richard Holland, an Australian dancer who had performed with Scottish Ballet, took a temporary job with Dance Books as a packing boy. 20 years later, he is a director of the company in charge of mail order and educational supplies.
In 2001, faced with the ever rising rents, rates, and squalor of central London, the difficult decision was taken to close the London bookshop and move out of London, to Alton, a small town in Hampshire, halfway between Guildford and Winchester, where we continue to supply our customers in the UK and throughout the world (incuding one at the North Pole!) by mail order.
With the advent of affordable and efficient desk top publishing programmes, Dance Books now typesets and lays out all its own publications in house. We are thus able to produce short print runs of specialist material for publication at reasonable retail prices.
From early 2011, Dance Books closed its retail sales side in order to concentrate on publishing. The company continues to sell its own publications and titles which it distributes for other companies, such as Princeton Book Company, world-wide service by mail order.