Hand-printed books of poetry,
Plus tips and supplies for fellow letterpress printers.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are you looking for help with letterpress printing, or trying to find suppliers? Our new Printing Tips section might help.

Online Shopping

All payments are processed securely by PayPal, who you'll undoubtedly be familiar with if you're an eBay fan. You don't need to be a PayPal member to shop, all major credit cards are accepted and we can now process International Orders online (see below for more information).

If you don't want to use a PayPal account to pay for your purchases, just look out for the ‘Continue’ link (shown in the image below) when you're checking out.

If you have any problems with the shop, please get in touch. Because all our publications are very limited editions, and supplies from the Composing Room Stores are limited, it's possible that a title/item may become unavailable after your order is taken. In this event, you'll be notified as soon as possible and refunded in full.

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Mail Order

We still have a band of loyal customers who always order this way and we know there are plenty of potential customers out there who'd rather avoid paying with plastic, so we'll be continuing to offer this service indefinitely. You can use our printer-friendly Mail Order Form and send it to us along with a cheque.

And if you haven't got a printer, you can just send a letter (see Contact Us for our address) with the relevant information. Please make cheques payable to J Stafford-Baker and don't forget to include postage, which in the UK is currently a flat 2.50 for any number of books, or 4.50 for any order containing printing supplies.

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International Orders

It's now easy-peasy for international customers to order our books online – just checkout as normal and select your region when prompted. Note that the printing supplies in the Composing Room Stores are not available to international customers.

Postage and packing for international orders is as follows:

  • EU: £3.75
  • Turks & Caicos: FREE on most orders. Please select "Local collection/courier/T&C" when prompted.
  • Rest of the World: £4.75

Most countries won't charge any import duty for a small number of books. Check with the relevant authority if you're worried about it (customers must meet any charges that are levied).

If you see a green message like this on the product page, with a little blue globe, then the item is available for international delivery:

  • UK and International delivery available.

But if you see either of these messages, with a flag or car, then the item is NOT available to international customers:

  • UK delivery only.
  • Local collection only.UK Delivery

We've been getting a lot of unwanted international orders for items from the Composing Room Stores, and one of the reasons we redesigned the website is to make it clearer that only our books are available internationally. If you try to order our printing supplies from abroad, you will have to pay the associated transaction fees when we refund you.

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The stores are now closed - but if you're struggling to source something then please do get in touch and we'll try to help.

Poetry customers: We're now offering a special books-only service for UK customers at just 2.50 for any number of titles. Make sure you select this option when you check out. For this service we use Royal Mail's first class post and nearly always dispatch the next working day. We can't make any guarantees, but your order will probably arrive inside a week and certainly within two (postal strikes permitting!). If it hasn't arrived after that time, please let us know.

Composing Room Stores customers: Printing materials might take a little longer to arrive due to the way larger parcels are handled by the Post Office. Postage is now 4.95 for all Composing Room Stores orders. Also look out for local collection items, like presses.

Mixed orders: We dont't often get orders for both books and printing supplies but in these cases, we'd ask you to select the 4.50 postage option.

Delivery is likely to take longer at Christmas.

Ordering from abroad? See International Orders for postage costs. International delivery times will vary.

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Local Collection

The stores are now closed - but if you're struggling to source something then please do get in touch and we'll try to help.

Some items are far too large and heavy for our usual postal service. These items are usually found on the Specials page and are marked with an orange car:

  • Local collection only.UK Delivery

When you're prompted to select a delivery method during the checkout process, please choose ‘Local collection’.

You will have to arrange to collect the item in question at a mutually convenient time. We can help you find a specialist carrier if you don't have suitable transport, or live too far away. We'll contact you after you place the order to discuss the options. Email us if you need more information before making a decision.

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Returns Policy

You can return an item in saleable condition for refund (or exchange for an item of the same value) within seven days of receipt. We will only refund the price of the item, and not the postage costs. The postage for returning the item will also be at your cost. However, errors on our part (eg wrong item dispatched) will be rectified at our expense if notified within seven days. We are not liable for damage incurred in transit. However, if this should ever occur, please talk to us and we'll see what we can do.

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Standing Orders for Friends of the Press

This service has proved very popular down the years so we're continuing it into the internet age! You'll receive a copy of each title as they are published (about one or two a year). We can't handle direct debits, so we'll ask for a cheque or PayPal payment each time. Just email us with your name, address and telephone number and we'll add you to the Friends list. Don't worry we'll notify you if the prices go up or postage increases and you can cancel a standing order at any time. Incidentally, Friends receive a 10% discount and occasional items of interesting ephemera.

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Sending a Payment

If you're purchasing something from us that isn't from our online shop, you can chose how you'd like to pay.

Send money online with PayPal. It's quick, easy and secure. If you already have an account, just go to http://www.paypal.co.uk/uk and follow these steps:

  • Log in to your account.
  • Select ‘Send Money’.
  • Enter our email address, shop@happydragonspress.co.uk, in the "To" box.
  • Then enter the amount (make sure it's set to ’GBP – British Pounds‘).
  • Select ‘Goods’ (or ‘Services’ if you're paying for the Sorts Service)
  • Click the ‘Continue’ button
  • On the next page, press the ‘Send Money’ button to finish (there's an option to send us details of what you're paying for although it's not usually necessary).

If you don't want to use PayPal you can send a cheque:

  • Make it payable to J Stafford-Baker
  • Send to The Happy Dragons' Press, 8 Stambourne Road, Toppesfield, Halstead, Essex, CO9 4DG, United Kingdom.
  • Don't forget to include the cost of postage when working out the total. Contact us if you're unsure.
  • International customers should note that we can only accept cheques in GBP (pounds sterling) so PayPal is probably an easier option for you.

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Last time we upgraded the website, we promised we'd improve accessibility in the future. The major improvement came through removing the drop down menus, which cause problems for anyone who's less than handy with a mouse, using a laptop touchpad, a text reader, an old browser (like Internet Explorer 5) or a small monitor/display.

Other improvements for those using screen readers (such as JAWS) include the complete removal of unecessary layout tables and a shopping basket that doesn't use pop-ups (although we do have a small number of pop-ups for images etc).

Visually impaired users who don't use a screen reader will be pleased to know we've kept our reasonably sized, high contrast text throughout most of the site. We are aware of potential problems for these users, however:

  • Contrast slightly low in the top menu and shopping buttons
  • Text scalability impaired in some browsers
  • Use of serifed text

These issues will be addressed next time the site is redesigned. If you have any other problems with the website, please let us know. We take accessibility very seriously but please remember this is a not-for-profit enterprise and the site was designed by untrained volunteers and that our checkout facilities are provided not by us but by PayPal and Mals-e.

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We have work in hand for the next couple of years. We do accept submissions but bear in mind that our editors have extremely high standards and that this is a not for profit private press – everyone volunteers their work, including poets and artists. Email your manuscript and it will be forwarded to the editor.

We know that finding a willing/able poetry publisher is becoming ever more challenging.

We're receiving an unprecedented number of submissions but our output remains the same – just a couple of books each year.

Vogons, Azgoths and Paula Nancy Millstone Jennings need not apply (see right).

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Trade Discounts

Real charter book shops (not purchasing agencies) may have 20% off the prices advertised on our website. However, this offer cannot be extended to a certain bookshop in Oxford. Email Us to discuss quantities and payment.

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Squeeze Allowance

When cutting leads and rules, you're faced with two choices.

  • Either cut to dead pica (ems of 12pt) measure, and always set your composing stick to a whisker (say one point) wider than the jobs working measure.
  • Or cut one point short and then always set your composing stick to the dead pica ems measure needed for the job.

This second option is what we call ‘squeeze allowance’ and it's standard at the Happy Dragons' Press.

It's important not to mix the two kinds, as it will prevent the forme from locking up properly.

Please note that the brass rules in the bargain (assorted) packs weren't cut by us so they may have ‘squeeze allowance’ or they may be dead pica.

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Limited Editions

We've had a few enquiries about just how limited our editions are. The concept of 'limited edition' has been severely degraded by big business, so you're wise to be wary, but the nature of the Happy Dragons' Press means our runs will always be restricted.

We aim to produce about 110 copies for sale of each title in the 'New Garland' series but we start by printing more, knowing some will be lost to quality control along the way. We usually arrive within ten or twenty copies of our goal with 'The Bone in Her Leg', for instance, we produced 104 numbered copies.

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Mailing List

We'll send you very occasional email updates and offers if you've shopped with us before (unless you ask us not to). We won't deluge you there should only be two or three emails each year.

Don't want to buy anything just yet, but want to be kept informed of our latest publications? Email us and we can add you to the emailing list, or the postal mailing list to receive our printed flyer (or both!).

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Our Sorts Service

We're happy to lend sorts (a few pieces of type to fill in the gaps) provided the following conditions are met. We're sorry it sounds so unfriendly but we need to be sure that no one will abuse the service. Please don't let it put you off! You can view a list of available typefaces here.

If you want to borrow sorts from us:

  • You must be in the UK
  • A previous customer and/or a member of the British Printing Society or Letterpress Exchange Group.
  • You must not use the sorts for foil blocking.

You pay a 3 deposit (for a maximum of 20 sorts) plus a few pence per letter:

  • 26p per letter up to 14pt size
  • 36p per letter for sizes above 14pt (sorry, no wood-letter available)

You can keep the sorts for up to 60 days, and the deposit will be refunded when you return them to us, provided that they have not been damaged.

We reserve the right to refuse requests for sorts at any time, for any reason.

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Printing Tips

Enquiries, Suggestions or Additions

If you'd like to suggest a museum, organisation or supplier for our Where Can I Find... (letterpress suppliers) section, or if you have any other comments, suggestions or questions, just email us in the usual way.

Just to reiterate, Printing Tips is about how we do things here at the Happy Dragons' Press, not necessarily how they ‘should’ be done (eg how they were done in the trade) – so no nit-picking, please! If you've noticed a genuine mistake, however, we'd be grateful if you'd let us know.

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Can You Print Something for Me?

Wedding Invitations, Business Cards, etc...

Sorry, we can't take on any jobs for other people. We recommend asking Typoretum or the Piccolo Press. See also: Jobbing Printers.

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Problems With an Order

Late, Lost, Incorrect or Damaged Items

If you have any problems at all with an order please email us so we can sort it out. Most items will be delivered with in two – seven days but it's best to wait ten days or so before you start worrying.

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Problems with the Website

If you have any technical problems please send us an email, giving as much detail as you can about the problem, so we can work out what's going wrong.

Our website conforms to all important web standards (and has been user tested in several browsers) but there is always the chance that something could go wrong. The website was built by (and is maintained by) volunteers so we hope you'll be understanding if you do have any problems.

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The Continue Shopping Button

If you find it frustrating to scroll down to the ‘Continue Shopping’ button in the basket, it's probably easiest to press your browser back button when you want to go back to exactly where you were (don't worry, the contents of your basket will be saved). Otherwise the ‘Back to Shop’ button will take you to the front page of our online shop. We know it's not ideal but our shopping basket is provided by Mals e-Cart and options are rather limited.

If the ‘Continue Shopping’ button takes you back to the wrong page, please let us know. Of everything that could go wrong, it's probably the most likely!

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What is Amazon Marketplace?

If Amazon themselves don't stock the title you're after, an Amazon Marketplace seller might. Both professional booksellers and individuals can sell through Amazon Marketplace. With out-of-print titles, most/all of the books on offer will be second hand and possibly very tatty.

Marketplace is integrated into the main Amazon website. Just search as usual and, if there are any matching items from the Marketplace, you'll see a link that says something like ‘6 Used & New’. Click on this and you'll see prices and detailed descriptions from competing sellers.

  • Read the descriptions carefully to make sure you choose the best value option.
  • Try and find a UK seller, unless you don't mind waiting a couple of weeks for your book to arrive.
  • Look out for alternative editions and duplicate pages for the same edition. You might find different sellers with better offers.
  • Don't expect ‘Super Saver Delivery’. You'll have to pay postage on every item you order from the Marketplace.
  • Sellers are rated by their buyers. A rating of between 95 and 99% positive is normal for a reliable seller. Be wary of those with less than 90% positive rating.

Play operate a similar system called Play Trade, although the range of titles offered isn't (yet) anywhere near as extensive.

If the prices are just too steep, look again in a couple of weeks for a better offer, or check eBay. Still no luck? Get thee to a library!