Books, like everything else, have their own natural lifespans. Publishers of original material thought likely to be popular may choose to invest in a larger print run, which ensures more surviving copies. Conversely, marginal works might only merit a small initial outlay, with any reprint contingent on successful sales figures. These can be significantly affected by capricious reviews; many a worthwhile book has been torpedoed by a few unfortunate published remarks. Likewise, local-interest books produced in minority languages in relatively small, predominantly monolingual target markets – such as for English-reading audiences in Hong Kong, Thailand, Taiwan and Japan – result in even smaller print runs. Unless serious bibliophiles in a particular subject areas assiduously collect whatever newly appears, many titles sink without trace, becoming largely forgotten reference-library fossils. Eventually, some titles become of sufficient historical, cultural or literary interest to merit a full reprint, and find a new life. So how do readers discover unknown gems produced several decades earlier, that afford them new insights into their chosen place and period of research interest? Browsing through antiquarian bookshops in cosmopolitan cities with populations large enough to support them – such as London and New York – was the most common way to stumble on something old-but-new in pre-internet days. Another chance for serendipity was through subject-themed anthologies. Anthologies, most commonly used for collections of poetry, also allow a brief introduction to prose works – both fiction and non-fiction – that have long since gone out of print. Some, such as Chinese Ink, Western Pen: Stories of China (2000), by Barbara Baker, and Sinophiles and Sinophobes: Western Views of China (2000), by Colin Mackerras, are useful tools for present-day readers to discover “lost” books. Anticipated content is explicitly revealed in the anthology title. Shanghai: Electric and Lurid City (1998), also by Baker, immediately evokes an era of taxi dancers, jazz bands and gangster-warlords. A gently crumbling world of paint-peeling shutters, tropical Baroque churches and left-behind Iberian charm is charmingly evoked by Donald Pittis and Susan J. Henders’ compilation Macao: Mysterious Decay and Romance (1997). Anthologies allow a tantalising flavour of much longer writing to emerge; without knowing what an otherwise obscure period novel, memoir or travelogue might entail, anthology selections give potential new readers a non-committal first taste. They also lead readers in unexpected directions; Where Monsoons Meet: The Story of Malaya in the Form of an Anthology (1956), by Donald Moore, has, despite the title, some unexpected China coast interest. China’s Treaty Ports: Half Love and Half Hate (1999), by Chris Elder, also veers into unexpected neighbouring areas. Bamboo, Lotus and Palm: An Anthology of the Far East, South-East Asia and the Pacific (1948), by E.D. Edwards, introduced works that were hard to locate more than 70 years ago. For the most part, Hong Kong references in earlier anthologies take some seeking out. Hong Kong: Somewhere Between Heaven And Earth (1996), by Barbara-Sue White, and City Voices: Hong Kong Writing in English 1945 to the Present (2003), by Mike Ingham and Xu Xi, both help redress this imbalance. Like many marginal publishing ventures, anthologies have greatly declined in recent years, as scanned, out-of-copyright books became freely available on the internet. For original copies, out-of-print and antiquarian booksellers all over the world are just a few clicks away, and rare works that might otherwise have been encountered by happy serendipity on a second-hand book barrow somewhere, can now be easily obtained – for a price – without leaving one’s study.