My name is Bill Furmedge and in 2008 I decided to try and actively offer a service to Wisden collectors. That sentence does seem like an opening line from “AA.” (Oh, before I ramble on, please do read the very last bit on this page..the PPS!)
My own passion for the almanack probably began during a very boring school trip to our local library in 1980. I stumbled across a book in the reference section entitled “Wisden Cricketers Almanack 1979.” What struck me at first was the colour and the fact it was next to another book about a fiftieth of its size called “Recent Everton Successes.” At the time my passion was for football and my devotion was and still is, to the red team on Merseyside.
I was not a cricket fan, indeed I just could not get my head around the fact that so little actually happened and yet they always stopped for drinks, lunch, tea, rain, sun etc but after briefly flicking through the yellow reference book I found myself going back to the library to look at it again. Why? I have no idea. Was it the numbers, the endless stream of statistics, the dawning that this was a book that told me cricket was actually played all over the world? Whatever it was I remember sitting in the library and looking at the Lancashire section and as I read through the matches I stopped reading the synopsis and ran through the games in my head and how they must have developed.
In the summer of 1979 I began watching the John Player League on BBC 2 and during the winter of 1979-80 I picked up the wonderful habit of Test Match Special on Radio 3 (Long Wave). The following summer I even started following Lancashire and buying The Daily Telegraph for their cricket coverage which for a 16-year-old in my part of Liverpool was akin to joining the Young Conservatives and calling for Derek Hatton to be tried for treason. I also bought my first Wisden, paid for by Postal Order, I remember having to wait over a month for it once my letter had been posted. Over the years my collection grew, it stumbled when further education forbade luxuries and it stalled when marriage and children came along, but in 2002 I decided to fill in the gaps. Like a lot of people I now regard as customers (the word “clients” does not sit comfortably with me – I am not a hairdresser) I wanted to go back to the year I was born, 1963.
After buying primarily from dealers and in book shops I decided that I wasn’t over-enthused by the way I was treated. As a customer, whether buying Wisdens or buying a new TV I wanted the seller to be honest, fair and to value the purchase I was making. With very few exceptions this was not the case when buying Wisdens. So I decided to see If I could offer an alternative level of service. So I made the decision to “give it a go.” My wife came up with the idea of the name, Wisdenworld. My own names went from “Ye Olde Yellow Book’ to ‘Wisden R Us’ – I am glad that I went for Lorraine’s suggestion. I began with a very basic website and I started to find Wisdens.
I have enjoyed every minute of doing it. The people I have met and the good friends I have made have completely vindicated the decision to launch Wisdenworld. Now, in my 39th year as a collector and a seller I have had my website redesigned and my old garage that never caught glimpse of a car, is now my office. To all those customers who have trusted my service over the years I say a very big thank you. I have tried to retain the principles I took into the business: Honest descriptions of books, the absolute guarantee to give a 100% unconditional refund and to trust my buyers. I work full time on what started out as my hobby, I am fortunate to have a great family who support me totally in this so if you ever phone and speak to a highly professional young lady, my girls have been taught well!!!
PS…I am still a fervent Liverpool Fan and I apologise to any Evertonians who may now decide to go elsewhere to buy their Wisdens!
PPS…In July 2018 after suffering with Alzheimers for almost a decade, my mum passed away. The more I talk to people and the more I find out about an illness that deprives the sufferer of their dignity, their memories and their ‘self’ the more I wanted to do something to help. Alzheimers is devastating to those who are closest and to those who care. So, the Alzheimer’s Society is the charity that Wisdenworld will donate to. I ask absolutely nothing of my customers. If I run a sale or a promotion then a percentage will also be given to the Society – so both my customers and a worthy cause benefit. Again, please let me stress, I am not nor will I ask, my customers, to contribute. We all have our ways of contributing and life is hard enough without another request, irrespective of its merits, and I do not wish to infringe on anyones choices.