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Rigby Instant Books

January 22, 2012

In the 1970s in Australia, the equivalent of the internet was the Rigby Instant Book. They covered many topics from Ways with Dried Flowers to Transcendental Meditation, Your Teeth and How to Keep Them and Shell Collecting as a Paying Hobby.

Earlier this week my friend Jane posted me a package of Rigby Instant Books she’d found among her Great Aunt’s books.

One of the great things about the Rigby Instant Book is that they are  just the right dimensions to slip into your apron pocket. They cost 25-35c, and for the 21st century reader contain plenty of lost information, such as the Egg Crash Diet, from The Simple Art of Egg Cookery. 

 

You can have as many eggs and as much black coffee as you like on this diet, a combination that I imagine would make you feel crazy a few days in, even with the occasional steak for variety.

Another favourite excerpt comes from 365 Home Hints “the most valuable little book you will ever buy”. The back of the book has the half-peeled-off price tags, which shows that the book was 29c at Target. I like this page not so much for the overall concept but for the one really rather serious situation among the small domestic moments.

Mostly life in the 70s was washing one’s hair with eggs or icing one’s sunburnt skin, with the occasional bushfire threatening your home.

The Instant Books were published by Rigby Ltd, which operated from South Australia, with offices in London and New Zealand. The American equivalent of these books, Dell Purse Books, were the same size and shape.

This book, with invaluable advice about how to position your wiglet, comes with the usual list of other titles of Dell Purse Books you might enjoy. This list has some intriguing titles such as: Face Reading, How to Spell it Right, Test your Emotions, Self Hypnosis, and possibly my favourite What To Do When “There’s Nothing To Do”. With a collection of Rigby’s Instant Books, you would never have had nothing to do ever again. There are endless new topics to explore.

12 Comments leave one →
  1. Eddie Walki permalink
    October 22, 2015 1:26 pm

    Hi would you know of a complete list of titles? Or maybe if I just collate the titles in the back of the books as they vary. I found one of several of these in a second hand shop. Now seven years later and many an op shop I have around 190 books! Including some doubles. It was the titles that made me laugh, and yes I have a copy of Your teeth and how to keep them. 😄

    • Vanessa Berry permalink*
      October 22, 2015 1:49 pm

      190 books that’s fantastic! I don’t have a complete list of titles, I’m sorry – I think collating them from the back of the books is probably the best way to do it, though there must have been full lists somewhere, maybe there’s a catalogue. If I ever find such a thing I will let you know. Congratulations on your great collection – are there any you are looking for in particular?

  2. Eddie Wallis permalink
    October 22, 2015 2:06 pm

    Not off the top of my head. But I am always looking and if its a double, snap it up anyways.

  3. Stephen Donkersley permalink
    March 3, 2017 11:26 pm

    It is interesting to see your interest in the Rigby Instant Books. I worked in the production department of Rigby Limited for eight years from the beginning of 1976. The range of subjects became exhausting and consequently some titles struggled to find an audience. The cost of servicing the bookshops and newsagents became prohibitive and sales of the Instant Books dropped off. Unfortunately, I am unable to provide an accurate number of titles in the series. In the beginning of 1982, Mike Page (publishing manager) retired and subsequent managers knew not what they were doing. The company went into quick decline, eventually vanishing from the publishing scene by the mid 1980s.

  4. Clythe Greenwood permalink
    February 2, 2019 3:49 pm

    I am the author of one of those Instant Books, “Straw Jewellery and Accessories” author Roxley Greenwood
    My copies were stolen and I would love to get hold of a copy now if available please ?
    I also wrote the sketchbook “The Magill Sketch book”. However due to family deaths at the time was unable to draw the sketches so asked a then “Friend” budding artist Moira McLaren if she would like the commission to draw them. This she did selling many of the original sketches for $800 and subsequent copies. When Rigby’s went bankrupt without consulting or telling me of her intentions Moira bought up all original copies of the book at a remainder price. She later sold these books on the internet and to bookshops at a huge profit. After spending two years researching the history of Magill and writing the book i only ever received a cheque for $150 royalties from Rigby Limited before they were declared bankrupt ! Moira was able to make a huge profit from the book and her subsequent sketches which launched her artistic career.

    • Stephen Donkersley permalink
      February 2, 2019 10:40 pm

      As mentioned in a previous post, I worked for Rigby for eight years and departed at the beginning of 1984. I wish to correct your comments. Rigby Limited did not go Bankrupt. Although they were financially struggling and were in debt, they did not go out of business through bankruptcy. Around 1980 (circa) the business was sold to Reed Consolidated Industries who were a division of James Hardie the asbestos and building materials company. Over the following few years the Adelaide based business was “rationalised” with various divisions being absorbed into the Sydney-based Business known as the Rigby Group of Companies. In 1985 the Adelaide office which was then based in Stonyfell Winery was closed. Slowly the Rigby imprint evaporated from the Australian publishing scene. RIP Rigby,

  5. June 13, 2020 1:42 pm

    As there appears to be no definitive list of RIBs, perhaps your readers could supply whatever details they have, and you could collate your own list.

  6. Maya Michael permalink
    June 27, 2021 1:32 pm

    I am after the “Better posture better health” by Roma Blair, published in 1978 by Rigby instant book. I have the front and back covers but not the pages inside. Would be happy to pay $30. If anyone has the little book, in any condition ,and is willing to sell, please send me a msg Maya – 0413489576.
    Much obliged.

  7. October 4, 2021 12:35 am

    In answer to Eddie and Dave, there is now an extensive (but not yet complete) list of Rigby Instant Books here:

    https://www.publishinghistory.com/rigby-instant-books.html

    This list is based on the books in the series held in the National Library of Australia and other Australian libraries.

  8. October 6, 2021 9:58 am

    Hi folks
    I have taken info from the publishing history list (I may have misconstrued some of it – re cassettes, etc) and my own small collection and other sources to compile an extended list for myself.
    If anyone would like a copy, please email me.

    • maya michael permalink
      October 18, 2021 4:16 pm

      Hi, Dave, if  your collection of Rigby books includes “Better posture – better health” by Roma Blair, please consider selling it to me. I had a copy and foolishly lent it to mother of a friend. Needless to say, I never got it back.  I have been looking  to replace it ever since.

      Kind regards,

      Maya Michael

      • October 18, 2021 11:02 pm

        Sorry Maya, I don’t have that one. dave

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