Appleby Books


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How am I to sing your praise,
Happy chimney-corner days,
Sitting safe in nursery nooks,
Reading picture story-books!

From "Picture-books in Winter" A Child's Garden of Verses
--Robert Louis Stevenson

Our Mailing List

To subscribe to previews of our (very) occasional lists, send an email to the address below with "List" in the subject line. Years ago we issued paper catalogues of collectible children's books but nowadays we post short lists online.

To Contact Us

Please feel free to contact us if you have questions about a book in which you're interested.

We respond to sales and inquiries within 8 hours on weekdays. We are usually available on weekends too.

The best way to contact us is by email at

Call us at 323.258.2767 between 12:00 pm and 8:00 pm Pacific Time. We are in and out during the day so please leave a message and we'll return your call.

Our mailing address is:
May Ellam
Appleby Books
1007 N. Avenue 51
Los Angeles, CA 90042-2328

About Us

This is a picture of us taken - ok, drawn - by our friend Mike Giaimo in 1988. It's still our favorite.

Established in 1983 (originally as May Ellam, Bookseller), Appleby Books is located in Los Angeles, California. We specialize in collectible and rare children's books in first edition with additional stock in out-of-print children's books. It's exciting to have and enjoy these wonderful books and fun to pass them along to delighted new owners!

It has finally occurred to me to mention that my mentors were longtime Los Angeles bookseller Peggy Christian and Pasadena bookseller Dirk Cable, both of whom are no longer with us and are still missed. I will always feel deeply indebted to these two fine people. I have a photo of Peggy which I keep on my desk as a source of inspiration and as a reminder of her wisdom, bibliographic dexterity, high standards and just plain love of bookselling. I'll scan the photo one of these days and put it on this page. Another mentor was Carol Docheff in Northern CA, a retired children's book specialist who was always so generously helpful, and with whom I've shared many lengthy phone conversations and lots of laughter.

We had a wonderful email recently. Dirk Cable's daughter chanced upon our website and saw the mention of her dad. She was kind enough to send us a photo she took of Dirk in his old shop at an annual Christmas South Lake Open House and to let us post it here. She noted that it still surprises her how many booksellers her dad influenced. It makes me happy to see Dirk's smiling face on our website. I spent so many pleasant hours in his cosy little shop talking about books and bookselling. Dirk was born to be a bookman. He loved books, he loved his 'job' and enjoyed researching his acquisitions, and he loved talking to customers and other booksellers.

As to how we came to bookselling, years ago one of our friends was a part-time scout and the lure of books proved irresistible. And as to how we came to sell children's books, that story is on our Leo Politi page so we won't repeat it here.


If you'd like to visit our in-home bookshop, please call ahead and make an appointment and we will gather together any books you're interested in viewing. We used to regularly welcomed visitors to our "shop" but our bookroom has become quite crowded. We're rearranging our space and will eventually welcome visitors once more. We can be reached at 323.258.2767 and we always enjoy talking books.

Our Books

PLEASE NOTE: When we say First Edition, we mean First Edition / First Printing. We rarely use the statement "True First Edition".

We use removable mylar jacket covers on our dustjackets in order to protect the jackets. We protect many books without dustjackets in 4mil mylar.

We take care in describing our books as we'd like you to be pleased with your purchase. We note flaws but spend little time extolling virtues. Nevertheless, they're there! A brief note about the condition grades we use (which are based upon the old AB Bookman standards):

Fine This is our highest grade and we use it sparingly. By Fine we mean that a book has either no flaws or has flaws which are so negligible as to be almost unnoticeable.

Near Fine A book which has a tiny flaw or two, perhaps a bit of edge rubbing - not absolutely fine but almost so.

Very Good+ A book which approaches Fine but has a slightly more noticeable flaw - perhaps a tiny bit of wear to corner tips or at spine ends.

Very Good A book which is in collectible condition but which may have a few small flaws, perhaps a crease in an endpaper, light wear to spine ends - a book which is not as crisp as a Fine copy. With children's books, there may be occasional light finger soil.

Near Very Good A book which falls short of Very Good because of a more noticeable, but usually forgiveable flaw. Such a book may have light wear to edges but will be an attractive copy overall.

Good A good, used book.

Reading Copy A book which is complete as to text and illustrations but which is not in collectible condition. Flaws are noted.

We always mention when a book is an ex-library copy but there are few deaccessioned library books in our stock.

We are knowledgeable about first edition identification and if there is any question as to a book's edition/printing, we note this in our description.

The dimensions we give for our books are the approximate width and height of the books; we are not using the traditional measurements of the text block. Rather, we are trying to give an idea of the size of each book in relation to available flat-rate packaging materials.

We welcome your questions about anything you feel we've not clarified in our descriptions. Please do not hesitate to ask us for further information.

We've provided scans for many of our books but additional photos and scans are readily available if you're interested in a particular title. Please let us know if you would like to see images. Just drop us an email or call.

If you fill out our "Request Quotes" form and tell us your collecting interests, we'll check our stock which is not online and also notify you when we acquire new titles. We would be delighted to work with you in building your collection.



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