Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Skinner looking for consignments for the Fall 2011 Book Auction

I received an alert from Skinner that they are looking for consignments for the annual Fall Book Auction 2011.  This Skinner auction takes place around the time of the Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair in November and generates great excitement and news coverage.  The high concentration of rare book dealers, collectors and specialists in Boston for the Fair who visit the auction preview, attend the actual auction and buy (or sell) creates a vibrant marketplace.

While Skinner does a nice job of inviting consignments, I wonder how many people know that they have in their family library, books that would merit attention by Skinner?  Veteran collectors who have amassed a specialized book collection or rare book librarians seeking to sell some of their collection, usually know what they have, generally remember what they payed for it and often have some expectation of what they want to sell it for.  For everyone else, there is much to learn, much to understand, and much to wonder about, if you want to sell a rare or collectible book at auction.  The auction process itself is fairly simple.  The details are fairly complex. 

To sell a book via a Skinner auction, your book must first, be accepted by Skinner for auction.  Skinner invites anyone to send them an email with a basic description of a book along with a high resolution photograph.  Based on that information, they may, or may not, respond with a basic auction evaluation including an expected auction range.  From that basic evaluation the seller must then decide whether or not to take the next step and pursue a more detailed appraisal from Skinner of the actual physical object and after consideration of the results, whether or not to consign the item to Skinner for sale. 

Since Skinner is a traditional "for profit" business, it is in Skinner's interest to accept consignments for auction that will result in the largest amount of potential income to Skinner upon sale at auction.  The more high priced items Skinner sells at auction, the more money Skinner earns.  Your book must compete for attention and interest.  If your book can make Skinner money they will be responsive and more than happy to walk you through the consignment process.

Skinner's basic consignment schedule is to charge a 10% commission on sales more than $7,500,   15% commission on sales between $2,000 and $7,500 and 20% on sales less than $2000.  This basic structure may create immediate distrust in the potential auction house client, but it should not.  If I sell a book at a Skinner auction for $5,000, Skinner charges me a commission of  $750 and I take away $3750.  If my book had sold for $7,500 the commission would still be $750 (10%) and my net would be $6750.  Skinner would much rather sell every book with a 10% commission versus books in the 15% or 20% commission range.  If you have a very valuable book Skinner's 10% commission is fair and negotiable for "priceless" consignments.  If your book is expected to sell for less than $7,500 a 15% commission insures that Skinner has interest in aggressively promoting it to likely buyers.  If your book is expected to sell for less than $2,000, you can be assured that Skinner has, at least, an actual financial interest in selling it and your book benefits from the attention the entire auction catalog receives, thanks to the "high priced" items that generate the most buzz for the auction.

If you are following along without anxiety so far, you are probably confident enough to submit a potential book auction candidate to Skinner, hope for a response, and evaluate the potential sale based on Skinner's initial reply. 

If you are anxious and confused at this point, you are not alone.  I have no idea what the Skinner response rate is but I would imagine that most submissions never merit a response.  While that may mean that your treasured book is most likely a treasure with no monetary value, it may also mean that Skinner missed out on a treasure or that your book may be worth $1500 at auction but they have enough inventory at that price range.  As with any financial transaction it is best to either know what you are buying or selling before you begin the process or be educated and/or represented by someone who knows what you are buying or selling.  Stay tuned in 2011 for more detailed information on auctions, appraisals, cataloging, understanding rare book catalogs and much more about book collecting, especially buying and selling! 


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Connecting 007, Ian Fleming, Rare Books, Indiana University, Printing and the Mind of Man

Collecting a complete set of the James Bond books, authored by Ian Fleming, is a fine pursuit enjoyed by many.  While Hollywood continues to make, remake or spoof the original stories, acquiring the first edition first printing of the Flemming classics will continue to entice many a bibliophile.  Flemming's works are truly collectible and now approaching "rarity" as the supply of fine condition copies disappear.   Before Fleming published the first Bond adventure, Casino Royale in 1953, he was a serious and inspired book collector.

Ian Flemming acquired an amazing collection of books with the majority of his acquisitions occurring in the 1930's.  During his short-lived collecting phase, he was self-described as "the worst stockbroker," a rambunctious bachelor, and a young man with a limited budget for collecting rare books.  His collecting was focused and his focus original.  His book collection, totalling more than 1000 titles, includes his original Bond manuscripts, author proofs and author copies remains complete and is housed at the Lilly Library, Indiana University Bloomington, a rare collection of firsts-first editions of first ideas.

Fleming's book collection was mostly a private treasure.  He considered his collection a hedge against inflation and kept it in trust for his son, Caspar.  In 1963, a year before Fleming died at the young age of 56, he loaned 44 copies from his collection for the now famous IPEX Exhibit, Printing and the Mind of Man where over four hundred of the most important books ever published were assembled and displayed.  Flemings contribution to the exhibit highlighted his original collecting focus.  His collecting interest was ideas.  The books he collected were the books first introducing an idea that "started something."  His collection focused on the ideas that we now consider the foundation of modernity, ideas of the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries including works on electricity, evolution, chemistry, physics, transportation, economics, medicine, and politics.  The Lillly Library maintains a website with detailed information on the Fleming collection.  In 1971 the Lilly Library held an exhibition of the Fleming Collection and the catalog from the exhibit is available on line.  Somewhere in my library lives the exhibition catalog for Printing and the Mind of Man where, I can't recall.  Both the Fleming collection and Printing and the Mind of Man are now considered standard reference for any collector interested in the ideas of modernity.

(My motivation for writing about Fleming today is thanks to an article from December 17, 2010 in the Financial Times, For Your Eyes Only, announcing the opening of a luxury hotel in Jamaica at "GoldenEye," Fleming's winter home.  There, each winter, between January and March from 1952 until 1964, Fleming wrote a new Bond novel.)

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Alchemist: A Graphic Novel by Paulo Coelho

I seem to be rushing everything and everywhere lately.  I'm pretty certain everyone else is as well.  Sunday afternoon, Anne and I braved the Sunday before Christmas crowds to head to our local Borders bookstore to get the traditional fine art calendar for Mom. 

We started our bookstore visit with a single goal in mind but while browsing the shelves I stumbled upon a must have, new book for my library, The Alchemist:  A Graphic Novel by Paulo Coelho, HarperOne, 2010.  I first thought it was simply a re-issue hardcover edition but when I pulled it down to take a look, I was immediately intrigued by the graphic novel format.  I was then shocked to note that it was a first edition, first printing.  While certainly not rare, for me, it is a collectible.  I love Coelho's The Alchemist and I had to add this edition to my small collection of other Coelho first edition, first printing (USA) and will shelve it next to my prized first edition first printing copy of The Illustrated Alchemist: A Fable About Following Your Dream, paintings by Moebius, HarperFlamingo, 1998.

What better way to find inspiration and motivation then to re-visit a cherished story.  I first discovered Coelho during the early 1990's while killing time at the old Waterstone's Book Store on Newbury Street in Boston.  I actually bought and still have the paperback edition acquired then, a 10th printing.  When I first read Coelho he was a complete unknown and for people who know me well, an out of character author for me to read, immediately cherish and collect.  Coelho is without doubt the best selling author of Brazil today.  Since then, I've acquired every new Coelho novel and keep my eye open for the right deal on the two first editions I don't own, The Alchemist and The Valkyries

Coelho's message is very simple, follow your dreams.  A message that encourages us to actually live in the world and experience the mysteries and wonders that make up a life.  Inspirational literature is a popular genre often filled with pulp and nonsense.  Coelho offers neither.  His writing, characters and story-telling are first rate and he will be remembered and read for years to come.  The newly published graphic novel format would be a great gift for a youngest reader, the illustrated edition with the Moebius illustrations a better gift for a reader of any age, and a first edition first printing of the 1988 edition (or the 1993 first English edition) a dream come true for the dedicated Coelho collector.

For an edgier introduction to Coehlo, more suitable for the cynical, crustier reader, I suggest Eleven Minutes a novel based on the life of a Coehlo fan, a former professional escort, whose life changed after reading Coehlo.  For me, I'm just going to try and not rush around so much and take some time to page through the new graphic novel edition.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Cultureomics--just the data, please.

A link highlighted at Marginal Revolution led me to an interesting article on data mining and google books.  Culturomics:  Hacking the Library of Babel, by Ronald Bailey, on the new analysis tool launched by Google to enable data mining of their vast digital books archive.  This is certainly a holy grail for social scientists, historians, and other humanists who pursue studies broadly termed "digital humanities."  My initial plan as an undergraduate at Carnegie Mellon University was to pursue a degree and career as a quantitative historian.  I knew then that it was only a matter of time before the records of mankind would become digital, searchable, sortable fuel for analysis.  When this news broke on December 16, I ignored the articles.  Nothing truly new here, move along.  But Bailey's headline caught my attention for the reference to the Library of Babel.

The Library of Babel is a truly inspired short story written by Jose Louis Borges, the great Argentinian librarian and author.  David R. Godine published a lovely edition of The Library Of Babel in 2000.  Godine is a fabulous independent publisher specializing in letterpress printing, first class design and has enviable good taste as a publisher.  I find myself acquiring Godine books as often as possible. 

No matter what transpires with the future of digital books and quantitative analysis, there will always be room for a fine edition of a great book.  Yes, Google is hard at work realizing Borges vision of the ultimate library of all written works.  I expect that Google will experience the same joy followed by depression of Borges' Babel. 

Thursday, December 16, 2010

C.S. Lewis, The Chronicles of Narnia, Perpetual Want

I've been casually searching for a complete edition of the seven volumes of C.S. Lewis, The Chronicles of Narnia for years.  I do not admit to being a fan of the contemporary movies but I do admit to enjoying the tales of Narnia.  The years since I read them have been many and now, I don't recall whether I dreamed of Narnia before I fell into the world of Hobbits, Elves, Dwarfs, Sorcerers, and the coming age of man, or after.  Regardless of my memory issues, anytime I drift away and stumble through the wardrobe, I'm back in a world of fantasy and adventure with heroes and villains, and great deeds of courage and honor.

On December 10, 2010, Sotheby's in London sold a complete set of first editions in, what I can only imagine, would have been described by a bookseller, as "in near fine condition considering the scarcity of these beloved children's books," for $7,588.00, at the low end of the pre-auction estimate.  Even if I had a spare $7590, I doubt the set at auction would have been the one to buy.  I'd hold out for a better condition copy.  You can read the full auction description here.

The challenge with The Chronicles of Narnia is to find a set, either first edition or simply a collectible edition, which include the complete, original, illustrations by Pauline Baynes.  I certainly didn't read an edition with those illustrations but if I were to acquire a set for my library now, I'd like to experience Narnia as the first readers did, with those, now classic, illustrations.

The Folio Society did a reprint in a lovely edition but I've never seen a complete set of first edition Folio Society for sale.  There is no reason to settle for anything less, given the multi-hundred dollar investment necessary, considering I will probably never own the true first edition.  I do have some standards!  I would settle for a nice commercial reprint (maybe), perhaps an anniversary edition or if Penguin Classics ever released an edition. 

For now, the only option that meets my need of a complete Baynes illustrated  edition may be the new edition published by HarperCollins, The Chronicles of Narnia 80th Anniversary Edition.  I am unable to find the book at the HarperCollins website (which is absurd, the site does not recognize the ISBN) to determine whether or not all the illustrations, as first issued, are included and it is a single volume, 800 page, boxed edition, which just seems wrong.  I imagine that sometime or other, HarperCollins released a proper set of the seven volume treasure but I really don't want a standard commerical edition.  The search will continue.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Dreiser Edition, University of Illinois Press- Collectible Now, Rare Later

Earlier this year I acquired a new edition of Theodore Dreiser, The Financier:  The Critical Edition, University of Illinois Press.  This edition is a title in The Dreiser Edition, Edited by Thomas Riggio, professor emeritus of English at the University of Connecticut.  From the publisher's catalog:

"First published in 1912, Theodore Dreiser's third novel, The Financier, captures the ruthlessness and sparkle of the Gilded Age alongside the charismatic amorality of the power brokers and bankers of the mid-nineteenth century....Dreiser laboriously researched the business practices and personal exploits of real-life robber baron Charles Yerkes to narrate Frank Algernon Cowperwood's early career in The Financier, which explores the unscrupulous world of finance from the Civil War through the panic incited by the 1871 Chicago fire."

I love Theodore Dreiser, generally described as a naturalist writer and one who defines the self-made artist archetype who pursued and eventually forged a successful creative life from nothing, fought censorship, hard times and triumphed to become known as one of America's greatest writers.  If you don't believe me or have never explored his writings, do start now.  The Financier is a personal favorite, the anchor of the three-volume Trilogy of Desire which includes The Titan and The Stoic (neither have been republished in this series-yet,).  I still know where and when I read this trilogy over two weeks, Fall 1980 at the Carnegie Library reading room, next to the campus of Carnegie-Mellon University.  A wonderful procrastination from the studying I was supposed to be doing.

Collecting Dreiser's original publications is well beyond my means.  I do own a cherished edition of The Genius, a book pulled from circulation at the urging of the New York Society for Suppression of Vice one year after publication and not re-issued until 1923 after spirited and effective defense of Dreiser's writing.  My edition of this autobiographical novel, inspired by the Superman of Nietzsche, is the 8th printing Boni and Liveright edition printed in 1925 and includes the correspondence detailing the issues the Society for Suppression of Vice had with this wonderful novel.  I also own the two volume Horace Liveright edition of A Gallery of Woman published in 1929. 

An original edition of The Financier is available for a mere $12,500 in fine condition.  For my money, the best compromise is to work towards completion of the new The Dreiser Series.  At $95 per title, they are expensive relative to other new books but will quickly be out of print and become as scarce and rare as all previous editions of Dreiser are today.  I can not even suggest paperback reading copies other then the generic print on demand editions--a literary crime in my humble opinion. I am mostly a completest in my mind but for Dreiser, I may well acquire this Series in full.  Especially since today, while researching links for this post, I learned the The Genius was published by University of Illinois Press in 2004 and still available.   

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

What We Need to Learn From T.E. Lawrence

What We Need to Learn From T.E. Lawrence

A very worthwhile read concerning Lawrence of Arabia from the Daily Beast.  Written by Michael Korda, the author of the recently published, Hero:  The Life and Legend of Lawrence of Arabia, this essay pinpoints the enduring impact T.E. Lawrence had on the Middle East during World War I, provides insight into the core characteristics of war and peace in the Middle East and suggests further reading on fighting an insurgency and alternatives to traditional counter-insurgency strategy perhaps best understood and defined by T.E. Lawrence. 

While The Seven Pillars of Wisdom, Lawrence's classic memoir of his Middle East strategy, securing the eventual downfall of the Ottoman Empire, remains a must read for everyone, Hero seems a fine introduction and offers the complete story of Lawrence's life and times.

Friday, December 10, 2010

An Introduction to Book Collecting from the WSJ

A wonderful article today in the Wall Street Journal on book collecting.  Collecting Literary Treasure by Goran Mijuk offers a brief overview of collecting.  I don't agree with everything in the article but I loved the fact that Mijuk includes reference to Aristotle, perhaps one of the earliest bibliophiles, and J. Pierpont Morgan who created one of America's most impressive and important private libraries.  With reference to recent auction results for rare books and opinions of current collectors it is a wonderful introduction to the passion for books that defines the bibliophile.

Many years ago while starting out my career in scientific publishing I asked a Fellow at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research how he kept up on the ever evolving world of science and research.  He offered a simple piece of advice, "I read the Wall Street Journal everyday.  Follow the money.  If they write about in the Wall Street Journal money is flowing to the area."  My Father gave me the same advice when I was in high school and I've been reading the WSJ ever since.  If book collecting is featured in the WSJ, money is flowing towards collecting books.

In terms of book collecting vs. collecting fine art I do disagree with the last bit of the article.  There, Peter Selley, senior director and auctioneer at Sotheby's, suggests,  "Compared to works of art, which can be displayed, books tend to be a solitary pleasure."  I believe there are as many reclusive art collectors who surround their private retreats with personal collections as there are reclusive book collectors.  However, book collecting encourages a much more obtainable and inviting social experience. 

Acquiring a rare book is often less expensive then acquiring a piece of fine art.  I would bet that when entering any home with a well stocked library guests will gravitate toward the books on the shelves.  A home library is a social place.  Sharing the treasures of book collections is a social act.   The wise collector, if facing a choice between pursuing fine art or books, will find more bang for the buck in collecting books.  It often pains me deeply to see a single page of a rare book displayed as fine art.  That page, separated from the master copy, may challenge the rule that the "whole is greater than the part" but really, owning the complete book trumps the treasure of owning a single page.  At the high end of collecting, whether it is fine art, books, automobiles, coins, stamps, musical instruments, experiences, the cost is prohibitive to most.  Why spend a life pining for that which you will never be able to afford?  My money will always be on books!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Molotov's Magic Lantern: A Journey in Russian History and Best of 2010 Book Lists

As the current year rushes to an end every publication, web site, bookstore, literary site and blogger offer their "best of list" paying homage to the year past in book publishing.  I read just about every list written and marvel because seldom do I see a book listed as, Best Of, that I either purchased or read.  My tastes, particular and peculiar as they are, rarely rise to any sort of popular level.  I acquire and read both old and new so creating a list based on the books acquired in the past year would not be in sync with annual ritual of Best Of.  I read the lists to know what other book crazy folk cherish and to see if I have overlooked something of value.

Yesterday I spent some time reading the Economist, Best of 2010, book article.  Divided into the usual categories, I quickly scanned for a missed treasure and was not disappointed.  Released in the United Kingdom, March, 2010, Molotov's Magic Lantern: A Journey in Russian History, by Rachel Polonsky, Faber and Faber, available in a North American edition on January 4, 2011, immediately peaked my interest.

While speeding through the Politics and Current Affairs section, where I never expect to find anything of interest (I read the news daily and wait for serious history to be written in the future), I noticed the following description, "A modern classic, inspired by Stalin’s violent henchman and the library he built, by a Russian scholar." 

What was that, Molotov? Stalin? A library?   Why is this in Politics and Current Affairs?  Reviewed on March 4, 2010, I quickly realized that this is a must read, not for the history of Molotov and his often bloody work for Stalin but for insight into the library he built.  (How did I miss the review in March?) 

Molotov was an epic monster and recognized now in association with the Molotov Cocktail, the improvised, incendiary/explosive device, so named and successfully deployed against the Red Army by the Finns to mock him during the wars between Finland and the Soviet Union, 1939-1944.  Molotov was a bibliophile?  What did he read and collect?  I wonder, and now, I must know!  I'll eventually catalog this in my library under Russian History and Books About Books.  Every time I do a general search in either category I will always remember why Molotov's Magic Lantern is there as well as when and how I discovered this book treasure.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Auction Results from Sotheby's, Western Manuscripts and Miniatures

I need to spend more brain time studying auction results.  As luck would have it, my trusty Sotheby's alert hit today with news that results are now available for the auction of Western Manuscripts and Miniatures.  The results report on the sale of 36 lots of rare and exquisite illuminated manuscripts, most on vellum and hand written and illustrated by generally unknown book artisans of the period.  Created in monasteries, private scriptoriums, or by individuals for personal use, these are truly unique works of art.  The 36 lots sold for $4 million plus, suggesting no recession in the rare manuscript trade.

The obvious high spot of the auction was the The Rouchefoucauld Grail, in French, Illuminated Manuscript on Vellum [Eastern Artois or Western Flanders (Most probably Saint-Mer, Tournai or Ghent), C. 1315-23] 

The manuscript totals 455 leaves including 84 large initials and 107 miniatures.  Sotheby's provides a killer closing line in the catalog description, " One of the principal manuscripts of the greatest romance of the the Middle Ages, with over one hundred miniatures illustrating warfare, chivalry and courtly love."  The quest for the holy grail is seconded only by the quest for the grail manuscript, bought at auction here for a mere, $3,773,197.95 

My personal favorite from the auction was the Amuletic Scroll of the Alchemist Johannes Michael, In German and Latin, Decorated Manuscript on Vellum [Germany, Late Sixteenth or early Seventeenth Century]. 

The details,

"a scroll (5 membranes), 2710mm. by 95mm., with coloured roundels on the obverse containing complex alchemical talismans, each above a line or so of text in cursive black ink in German or Latin explaining their use, on the reverse a number of prayers and prayer-like texts listing names of Evangelists and alchemical terms, and naming the owner of the scroll in lighter brown ink as Johannes Michael, these texts separated by elaborate crosses and roundels, some minor rust holes at top edge of first and second membranes, else in excellent condition"

"This scroll is an alchemist's practical reference tool from the greatest years of the study of this philosophical and pseudo-chemical art. It lists some 34 designs for alchemical talismans (presumably to be painted on walls, doors or the body), littered with the traditional symbols for mercury, copper, gold and at the head of one of the larger talismans, the elusive philosopher's stone locked within the Seal of Solomon. The simple talismans at the beginning of the scroll offer protection against neid und haß (anger and hate), den bösen geiß (the evil spirits) and Zauberij (witchcraft). Those at the end incorporate a number of simple units as well as symbols taken from an angelic alphabet (evidently influenced by the so-called Alphabet of the Magi invented by the celebrated astronomer and alchemist Paracelsus, 1493-1541), and offer more specific protection against failure in war and imprisonment."

I own a contemporary Alchemist Scroll and paid no where close to the $33,500. this cost at auction! 

Visiting auction sites pre or post-auction is worth the time spent.  In this case learning a bit about the Grail lore and seeing a real alchemist scroll is as close to I'll ever get to these pieces of history.

Friday, December 3, 2010

H. L. Mencken, Library of America, Nietzsche's The Antichrist

Making connections between books, authors, publishers, editions and the evolution of ideas provides endless hours of amusement and amazement.  An innocent acquisition often leads to multiple additions to my want-list and yet another category of books to discover, acquire, collect and read (or re-read). 

Visiting an antiquarian and rare bookshop fallen on hard times and closing earlier this summer, I took note of the 50% off sale on books under $500 and searched the shelves, soon to be emptied, for a treasure to add to my library.  I'd been a regular visitor to the shop over the past few years, knew the inventory and immediately began to browse the philosophy and modern fiction sections.  I noted three or four potential buys and left to take a walk and ponder the buying decision.  I only wanted to add one book on this trip, trying to control my bibliomania is a constant battle, and now needed to choose one of three potential targets.  After a brief walk I returned to the shop and purchased, The Antichrist, F.W. Nietzsche, translated from the German with an introduction by H.L. Mencken, Alfred A. Knopf, 1920, Volume III of The Free-Lance Books, edited by H.L. Mencken. 

Nietzsche's The Antichrist is an important work in the history of ideas and adding fine editions of Nietzsche to my library a life goal.  I love the look and feel of this book.  A classic, simple 1920 design, a translator and series editor of enduring literary fame, and a new series for me to acquire.  Upon returning home I immediately began researching Mencken's The Free-Lance Books, discovered I probably paid too much (considering the discount) and that Mencken, while an early champion of Nietzsche's ideas in America, never produced any more translations of Nietzsche and this effort is certainly not considered the best.  None of that impeded my interest in learning more, reading Mencken's translation, and wanting to acquire all the titles Mencken sponsored in The Free-Lance Books (5 titles in total).

H.L. Mencken, known as the Sage of Baltimore, was a leading literary critic, man of letters and independent political pundit active in the early part of the 20th century.  The Library of America has just released an affordable edition of Mencken's essays and reviews, Prejudices, originally published in six volumes during the 1920's.  Collecting the original editions is expensive with individual volumes priced from $500 to $2500.  This edition is affordable for anyone interested in Mencken.  A recent review in the Times Literary Supplement motivated this post.  Do read this fine review for more information on Mencken.  As well as a champion of Nietzsche, in America, Mencken also loved Mark Twain, Willa Cather, Joseph Conrad and Theodore Dreiser, to name a just a few where we are in solid agreement! 

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Recently Added to My Library: The Book Of Symbols

I preordered this book a month or so ago and it arrived recently.  Honestly, I haven't opened the box yet, other books to deal with first.  I am looking forward to browsing and reading the offered meaning of the symbols of mankind. 

Two weeks ago, while meeting a friend for lunch, he started to tell me about this publishing project he was involved with resulting in a new Taschen publication.  I immediately admitted I had the book on pre-order.  A humble participant, author and advisor on the publication contract, he warned that the entries were personal reflections on the meaning of the symbols and probably not definitive.  I think that is the reality of the symbols we ponder, as our uniqueness evolves over time via experience, our understanding of what we see must be unique and best when shared.

14 years in the making and obviously the publication that defines the work of the The Archive for Research in Archetypal Symbolism (ARAS).  Another destination for my next trip to New York City.

A nice review in the Wall Street Journal today and the official launch of the book will be December 8 at the Taschen Store in New York City.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Art Garfunkel and Reading

This is just too precious to pass up.  While visiting the blog,  Marginal Revolution today, a pointer to a site which lists all the books Art Garfunkel has read since 1968 caught my eye. Definitely worth a visit to browse through the 1084 books.  I'm not a huge fan of Art Garfunkel's music even when he was partnered with Paul Simon, but I sure would love a chance to consult with him on the acquisition of all the first edition, first printing, English, of his reading list for his home library and legacy!   A lifetime reading list offers amazing insight into anyone's mind, brain and soul.

First two on the list, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, The Confessions, followed by Erich Fromm, The Art of Loving.

Last two on the list from 2009, Giambattista Vico, New Science and Nora Ephron, I Feel Bad About My Neck.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Book related gift find, Wizard of Oz puzzle

From the Gump's Holiday catalog a lovely wooden puzzle of illustrations from the First Edition of The Wizard of Oz.  A great gift idea for the young one who loves all things Oz. 

Rekindle fond memories of the classic children’s tale while assembling illustrations from the 1899 first edition. Crafted in maple-veneer plywood with archival paper and inks, the 245 pieces include numerous "whimsy" shapes, including Toto and the Tin Man.
  • 9 1/4"W x 12 1/2"H

  • Made in the USA

  • Tuesday, November 23, 2010

    Boston Book Fair Finds-3 Sun, Moon, and Stars

    One find at the Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair was simply to much fun to pass up, and I did try!  While I didn't buy the copy I viewed at the show, I was unable to purge the "want" from the impulse-buy center of my brain.  Shortly a fine copy of Sun, Moon and Stars:  Astronomy for Beginners, by Agnes Giberne, with a Preface by Reverend Charles Pritchard (Professor of Astronomy, Oxford), published by Seeley Jackson and Halliday, Fleet Street, London, 1882, will be shelved in my library.   The book was first published by Seeley in 1879 and this 1882 edition is noted as the Eighth Thousand, which may mean the second printing, it may mean the 8th printing, or it may have some other meaning that I will need to figure out over time.  While the copy I viewed at the book fair was lovely, it was an edition released in 1898 and priced high, I felt. 

    I had images lined up to share but once I ordered my copy, the images on the listing page went away.  For now I'll share the booksellers description of the copy on order.  "Simple and lovely introduction to Astronomy filled with and inspired by Spiritual Reflections. 'to look upward through Nature unto Nature's God.'  Illustrated with some beautiful Colour Paintings. 296 Pages + publishers Adverts.  Olive Green Cloth Cover with bright gilt titles and sun and moon on spine.  Front is similar but with planets & Galaxies as well and a picture of a shooting star.  Frontis is a Colour Painting of Donati's Comet. 1858."

    While browsing the various listings of the numerous editions currently for sale and searching for backup information for this post, a few fun facts popped out.  24,000 copies of this title were sold between 1879 and 1899.  Editions continued to appear through 1910 and the title was considered one of the best selling titles of the late 19th century.  The author was an amateur astronomer and was a founding member of the British Astronomical Association.

    Donati's Comet, 1858

    Monday, November 22, 2010

    Three recent novels--Ancient Greece

    I've just finished reading three novels set in the ancient world of Greece and legendary Troy.  These recently published titles, two by first time authors and one by a veteran were enjoyable and worthy additions to my ever expanding collection of historical fiction.  The Lost Books of the Odyssey by Zachary Mason, Ransom by David Malouf and The Golden Mean by Annabel Lyon are fine examples of the genre.  All three are short novels with unique perspectives, crisp writing and themes that continue to resonate in my mind. 

    Zachary Mason's, The Lost Books of the Odyssey pays homage to the Homeric epic tale of the long and wild trek home to Ithaca faced by Odysseus and his crew, by offering 44 imagined endings and stories long lost.  The book is gripping from the first to last page and a novel I didn't want to ever end. 

    Not only a fabulous read but also a a future "collectible".  The Farrar, Strauss and Giroux edition is actually a second edition.  The first edition was released by Starcherone Books of Buffalo, New York in 2008 as the winning submission in a competition for new authors.  That led to Mason being a finalist the New York Library Young Lions Fiction  award  in 2009, interest from major publishers and the new edition from Farrar.  I just ordered one of three copies of the Starcherone Books edition I found for sale.

    Ransom by David Malouf, considered by many Australia's greatest living writer, is a powerful novel.  The ransom of the title is that offered by Troy's King Priam to Greece's champion Achilles for the return of Priam's son, champion of Troy, Hector, killed by Achilles in single combat.  The death of Hector by Achilles and his desecration of Hector's body for days after, is one of the most horrific episodes of the Trojan War.  By focusing on the ransom, perhaps a first such in the ancient world, Malouf explores the horrors of war from a most unique viewpoint.  I'm not familiar with Malouf and now, after Ransom, I look forward to reading more of his work.

    The Golden Mean by Annabel Lyon was a must read for me.  Any author willing to tackle the relationship of Aristotle and Alexander the Great wins attention and priority status on my reading list.  While I enjoyed the read, I have mixed feelings about the novel.  As a novel, the writing was polished, brisk, and entertaining.  As an exploration of the relationship between Aristotle and his most famous student, Alexander the Great, I was not thrilled.  Yes, the theme of moderation was clearly present but the sexual beast, Aristotle and the sociopath young Alexander was a bit overdone.  Probably the easiest of the three to read but the one that I found most difficult to completely embrace.


    Thursday, November 18, 2010

    2010 National Book Awards

    The recipients of 2010 National Book Awards were announced last night in New York City. 

    The winners are:

    Fiction:  Jaimy Gordon, Lord of Misrule, McPherson and Company

    Non Fiction:  Patti Smith, Just Kids, Ecco

    Poetry:  Terrance Hayes, Lighthead, Penguin

    Young People's Literature:  Kathyrn Erskine, Mockingnbird. Philomel Books

    Wednesday, November 17, 2010

    Boston Book Fair Finds 2 -The Comic History of Rome

    Browsing the booths at an antiquarian book fair is all about being in the moment.  Many of the books on display are truly rare, museum quality artifacts and priced accordingly.  The majority of books and ephemera on display are collectible (for the right collector) and mostly priced within reason and common budgets.  I doubt there are many instances where a buyer discovers a must own rare book and immediately whips out the checkbook and writes a $10,000 check.  Could happen buy very unlikely.  More likely is the curious lover of books discovering a minor rarity in the $50 to $200 range and making an impulse purchase.  Since I am not eager to spend on the spot, I simply enjoy browsing and discovering something new.

    From the Posner Library Digital Copy, Carnegie Mellon University

    My second find at the recent Boston Fair was The Comic History of Rome and The Comic History of England (2 Volumes), Bradbury and Edwards, London.  This three volume set, bound in brown cloth with very faded spines, was reasonably priced at $500.  I was drawn to The Comic History of Rome due to my love of all things ancient Rome and I immediately recognized the illustration style from the 19th century.  Quickly realizing that these books were associated with Punch, the British magazine of humor and satire (1841-2002, rip), I jotted down the titles, author (Gilbert Abbott A Beckett) and illustrator (John Leech) plus a note inside the front cover in pencil, "Taylor only 10 complete sets."  A new discovery and a set of books to investigate, possibly a "must have."

    I've done some research and know now, that these were extremely popular 19th century books, reprinted many times.  John Leech, the illustrator is famous for his work with Punch and as the illustrator of Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol, 1843.  I've written the bookseller who displayed the copies I viewed at the show to find out whether they are true first editions or later reprints, I didn't note the publication dates while browsing.  There are a number of complete sets available for purchase, many more than 10.  A true first edition would be nice to own and it will take some time to figure out who actually is selling a true first and with prices ranging from $200 to $2,000 I will take my time. The hunt is on.

    Tuesday, November 16, 2010

    A new release for the Jazz/Blues book collection

    From the Wall Street Journal a nice review of the just released Hi-De-Ho: The Life of Cab Calloway by Alyn Shipton, Oxford University Press. Noted as being the first published biography of the great band leader, scat singer and all around character. Certainly a good addition to any jazz/blues book collection.

    The Man Who Taught America to Scat a review by Will Friedwald author of A Biographical Guide to the Great Jazz and Pop Singers

    Monday, November 15, 2010

    Boston Book Fair Finds 1- The Political History of the Devil

    I visited the 34th Annual Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair Saturday. In between attending the two Saturday talks, and  visiting every booth in the exhibit hall, I came away with a few new serious "wants" both for my library and for my mind.

    One new obsession is acquiring a fine edition of Daniel DeFoe, The Political History of the Devil (in full, the title reads, The political history of the Devil, as well ancient as modern: in two parts. Part I. Containing a state of the Devil’s circumstances, and the various Turns of his Affairs, from his expulsion out of Heaven, to the creation of man; with Remarks on the several Mistakes concerning the Reason and Manner of his Fall. Also his Proceedings with Mankind ever since Adam, to the first planting of the Christian Religion in the World. Part II. Containing his more private conduct, down to the present times His Government, his Appearances, his Manner of Working, and the Tools he works with.

    In a later edition, the following was added to the title: Bad as he is, the Devil may be abus’d, Be falsly charg’d, and causelessly accus’d, When Men, unwilling to be blam’d alone, Shift off those Crimes on Him which are their Own).  This added detail suggests the tenor of the work; the Devil returns and discovers that Man does all manner of nasty and blames him!  The nerve.

    Defoe, better known for his tale of Robinson Crusoe or the story of Moll Flanders, ranks high on my short list of satirists with the necessary skill to pen a "political history" of the Devil.  I want to read this book for the giggles but after browsing through the first edition, published 1726, printed for T. Warner at the Black-Boy in Pater-Noster-Row, London, I either need to save enough to buy that copy or find another that has the same feel. 

    The copy on display and for sale was bound in contemporary (late 19th century) Moroccan leather with all gilt edging, the pages showed some slight foxing.  A true first edition almost 300 year's old and relatively affordable at $1250.  The only other copy I've found for sale is an edition published in 1840, a single volume (X) separated from a complete works of Defoe, series.  Leather bound with gilt edges as well, for $150.  Very tempting but I'd probably need to acquire the rest of the volumes in that series and there are probably twenty or more volumes.  These are the only two copies I can find for sale and I'm not going to spend any money on an ebook or print on demand edition.  I'd rather wait to acquire a special edition, the political history of the Devil must wait.

    I am very surprised and a little saddened by the obscene lack of nice editions of the Defoe titles mentioned here.  Certainly an opportunity for a fresh Penguin Classics hardcover treatment or an enterprising young publishing house looking to be noticed.

    Friday, November 12, 2010

    The Book Nobody Read

    Will this be "the blog nobody read?"   Did this pop into my mind because it may well be the case that no one will ever read this or is this thought simply a pointer to a cherished book in my library?  I believe the latter. 

    In The Book Nobody Read, Owen Gingerich, senior astronomer emeritus at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and research professor of astronomy and the history of science at Harvard University, details his investigation of Arthur Koestler's claim in The Sleepwalkers, that no one read Copernicus's landmark book, De revolutionibus (On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres) when published in 1543. 

    Today, we may (or may not) recall from school, that Nicolaus Copernicus is revered as the man who once and for all proved that the earth revolves around the sun.  This, the heliocentric model, was at odds with earlier and "Vatican approved" theories arguing that the earth is stable and the sun and the heavens revolve around the earth. 

    While the initial publication of De revolutionibus did not generate much "official" attention, in 1616 during the Vatican's investigation into the heresy of Galileo, the book was censored and the original banned.  Copernicus remained on the List of Prohibited Books until 1835 even though his heliocentric theory was long since, universally accepted.   This revolution in understanding was so important in the history of science and ideas, that many a thinker has claimed to ignite their own Copernican revolution.  Very few since, have earned such acclaim.  On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres is a book that changed the world.
    I'll never own and probably will never be able to even browse a copy of the first or second edition of De Revolutionibus, but I will always enjoy Gingerich's story.  The Book Nobody Read is a chronicle and popularization of Gingerich's search, over 30 years, and study of the 600 existing copies of the first and second edition of Copernicus.  His study resulted in the publication of An Annotated Census of Copernicus' De Revolutionibus, Brill, Leiden, 2002,  402 pages.  It may be safe to say that very few if any actually read that book! For anyone who loves early printed books the opportunity to visit, handle and study all the surviving copies is as unlikely a life-goal as there could be.  Being resourced and able to visit/study every existing copy of Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, would be my quest. 

    The Book Nobody Read details the story of a "book census."  With easy access to WorldCat it is possible to discover how many copies of an early printed book (or any book) exist in cataloged book collections.  Private holdings are often hidden, but auction records and careful searches of the rare book trade can be studied to determine how many copies of a given work exist outside of cataloged library holdings.  A statistical book census is valuable for collectors and scholars.  Visiting and reviewing all known copies, more of a dream, or a life pursuit for well-funded scholar.

    My interest in Copernicus and the publication of De revolutionibus found some satisfaction in owning and reading The Book Nobody Read.  It is a treasure in my private library.  For a collector of all things Copernicus, The Book Nobody Read is a resource for further collecting.  At the least, a collector would own the actual Ginergrich census and a first edition first printing of Koestler's The Sleepwalkers.  And to the collector willing to spend serious money, congratulations and please invite me to your library so that I could actually view a copy of De revolutionibus, a book that was in fact, read and a book that changed the world.

    Thursday, November 11, 2010

    Veterans Day, November 11, 2010

    Every November 11, we remember and honor all of the Veterans who have served and currently serve their country.  On November 11, 1918 the Allies and Germany signed an agreement ending hostilities on the western front at eleven o'clock in the morning—the "eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month" ending World War I.  The war to end all wars it wasn't really but the signing of the armistice ended the war and set the stage for future wars.  Today is not a celebration of War but rather a celebration of the sacrifices and glories of the men and woman everywhere who march into harms way past and present.  While we honor the memories of warriors past and warriors present we should remember that our future ought to be a future of peace.

    Instead of noting a favorite book on War, I'd rather suggest that everyone consider reading an essay published in 1795, Toward Perpetual Peace, a fairly short essay by the great German Philosopher, Immanuel Kant, my philosophical hero! The essay was motivated by the signing of the Treaty of Basel in March of 1795 between Prussia and revolutionary France.  A treaty as well, that established a basis for future war. 

    Kant's political philosophy is scattered among his writings yet his belief that reason will lead a constant progression towards a cosmopolitan world where states arise from a warlike state of nature to a state of perpetual peace still seems a worthy goal and a possible future.  While the essay itself is short and may be enjoyed without reading Kant's foundational philosophical works, it is better to acquire the essay as part of The Cambridge Editions of the Works of Immanuel Kant In Translation, General Editors Paul Guyer and Allan W. Wood, in the volume entitled Practical Philosophy, Edited by Mary J. Gregor.  After reading the essay on perpetual peace I'm certain you will feel the need to read the rest of Kant's writings on practical philosophy.

    Wednesday, November 10, 2010

    This Recording a fine blog with a section on books

    Sometime last year, I stumbled upon, This Recording, a blog, because they had a posting on True Blood, the HBO Sookie Stackhouse Vampire Series, and I was wondering what the "cool kids" were thinking about True Blood early on.  I'm a fan of True Blood, the HBO Series but I have not read the novels. I do have a small collection of favorite Vampire novels that I will write about someday, just not including those. The writers at This Recording knew of the books and were fans of the show, with reservations.  I was quickly drawn into other posts on This Recording and I decided to follow them and see where they took me.  Before long, I was mostly interested in their posts about Books and not their seemingly endless fascination with all things Mad Men.

    I enjoy visiting This Recording especially on days when a new book posting appears.  Today, I read the posting by Alex Carnevale, Editor, concerning the newly released letters of Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg.  I'm not a huge fan of either and probably won't acquire a copy of the letters, but I certainly enjoyed the review by Carnevale and I tend to agree with the overall tenor of the review, that both Ginsberg and Kerouac were fatally flawed as writers and probably as humans. 

    Here is the beginning of This Recording post: it is worth reading in full and it is worth paying attention to This Recording in general.

    The Jew & The Goy

    As for all your latest Mayan discoveries and poems, I want to hear every word of it if you want to transmit, or tell when we meet, but don't expect me to get excited by anything anymore.

    The cultish obsession over Jack Kerouac, and to a lesser extent, Allen Ginsberg, has always been somewhat repulsive to me. Along with their revolting friend William Burroughs, the two shared an undeniable talent for writing, however unshapen and maladrous it was at times. Although Burroughs was the most talented of the three, they all wrote important but flawed works that undeniably captivated a great number of people.

    The recently releasedletters of Kerouac and Ginsberg, edited in a spare and mysterious fashion by Bill Morgan and David Stanford, only reinforce this view. For many writers, the details of their biographies end up overshadowing the work itself. Since the work of Jack Kerouac consisted of a lengthy exaggeration of his real life that cast it in a more appealing light, this was never much of a problem. The fact that he ignored his biological daughter and every wife he had, drank himself to death, and was largely detested by many of the people he considered his friends moves out of focus...."

    Tuesday, November 9, 2010

    Pompeii at risk again

    While Mt. Vesuvius is still, buildings are collapsing in Pompeii.  Just yesterday the House of the Gladiator collapsed and while reports suggest some frescoes are salvageable, the house is in ruins.  The culprit today is not Mt. Vesuvius but the mis-management of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Calls are being made for Pompeii management to be turned over to a private corporation instead of the always adventurous, volcanic and often incompetent Italian Government.

    A crisis in Pompeii is an opportunity to revisit a book in my library worthy or being in every library with an interest in Pompeii, public, private, university, or specialist.  Books about Pompeii are popular for a range of book collectors and it is safe to say that a library without a book about Pompeii is a library in need of a book about Pompeii.  If you are interested in Pompeii, there is no better place to start a book collection than with Houses and Monuments of Pompeii:  The Works of Fausto and Felice Niccolini, edited by Roberto Cassanelli, Pier Luigi Ciepparelli, Enrico Colle, and Massimiliano David, with an Introduction by Stefano de Caro and translated from the Italian by Thomas M. Hartmann, The J. Paul Getty Museum, 2002.  I examined the Italian Edition during a visit to the Museum shop at Herculaneum in 2002 and was thrilled to see the Getty translation would soon be available.

    This large format publication offers a scholarly yet gentle introduction to the history of Pompeii with an emphasis on the publications, artists and archeologists who created the early visual records of the ruins and established a scientifically motivated approach to studying, mapping and chronicling the ruins and on the impact those attempts had on the study of ancient Roman culture, on the evolving pursuit of archeology as a science and on interior design and modern culture generally.  The illustrations are simply fabulous and it is a fascinating "fun-fact" that the original work of the Niccolini's was the first publication in Italy that used the chromolithograph method, fairly new at the time, and represented the state of the art in color printing.  What I truly love about this book is that the illustrations suggest not only the grandeur of the ruins as we see them now, but the rich colors that once decorated the exteriors and interiors.  While contemporary neo-classical architecture relies on white marble exteriors, the ancients used color to decorate building exteriors, and with this book, you will experience Pompeii as it looked before the eruption.  I remain amazed every time I browse through and study the illustrations.

    Today I am saddened to think that the "Fresco Portraying the Famous Brawl Between the Pompeians and the Nucerians in the Amphitheater Discovered in the House of the Gladiator Actius Anicetus"  may well be destroyed forever.  I can't reproduce the image from the book here, but do get a copy and turn to page 101!

    Monday, November 8, 2010

    Deckle Edge Paper

    While looking up the ISBN of a recently acquired book, Dr. Zhivago by Boris Pasternak, newly translated by Richard Prevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, Pantheon, 2010, I noticed something new on Amazon, a helpful educational feature associated with the book, itself, the definition of "Deckle Edge Paper." 

    I will never claim to understand the database foundations in Amazon World, but with this title, the database publishes the fact (or is it a feature) that the book is Deckle Edge. The title line from Amazon is Dr. Zhivago [Deckle Edge] [Hardcover].  I didn't notice that characteristic either at the bookstore or when I pulled up the book on Amazon until I noticed in an information box under the basic book a helpful definition of deckle edge paper from Amazon:

    This Book Is Bound with "Deckle Edge" Paper
    You may have noticed that some of our books are identified as "deckle edge" in the title. Deckle edge books are bound with pages that are made to resemble handmade paper by applying a frayed texture to the edges. Deckle edge is an ornamental feature designed to set certain titles apart from books with machine-cut pages. 

    Well, okay and of course!  I think it is a great new feature of Amazon.  A little book education goes a long way.  Are you willing to pay a premium for deckle edge?  I wonder if book collectors will add a new sub-definition to the basic disorder of mind.....A Collection of Machine Made Books with Deckle Edge?  Could happen but better the basic education of book terms is a good in itself.

    I'm certainly happy to have the new translation for a multitude of reasons that illustrate the level of addiction to book collecting manifest in me:  I loved the original novel in translation, I love the movie, I collect banned books, this an example of Banned Books Soviet Style, I figure that having a first printing of this translation will be good once I acquire the first printing of the 1958 translation, I've been thinking about re-reading Dr. Zhivago for the past couple of years, I enjoy fiction, Russian style, I'm crazy.

    Tuesday, November 2, 2010

    About my Profile Image

    Book collecting, at least in my case, is varied in direction, focus, obsession, level of scholarship and result.  A defining element of my character is my love of research, pure and simple.  Unfortunately, book collecting is one area where the infinity of pathways that arise when researching ensures that I will never know everything I want or should know.  When systematic analysis and research fails, you just have to sometimes rely on pure, simple, dumb luck.

    In May of 2009, after a 25 year run, I left my last publishing gig to pursue something else with my life and mind.  My initial intent was to figure out a way to carve out a space for myself in the general area of rare book collecting, turning a passion into a profession as the saying goes.  I established some general parameters and started developing a plan.  Where else to start but choosing a name for my new business.  I have always been a reader and book buyer but it only became more a disorder of mind when I began a continuing interest in the books and writing of Henry Miller.  I was introduced to Miller via The Tropic Of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn (a subject of future posts).  After reading both, I started to delve more deeply into Miller's oeuvre and next read The Books In My Life (New Directions, New York, 1952).  This is a book that changed my life or at least acted as the gateway drug for my enduring book addiction.

    Miller's memoir of the books in his life reinforced my opinion that what we read, along with what else we experience, determines who we are as a truly unique person.  It also provided me a fresh list of books I must read and eventually acquire for my private library.  The first book on my new reading list was Rabelais, Gargantua and Pantagruel.  How Rabelais had never been on my radar after years of first rate liberal arts education remains a grand mystery.  Years later all I have to do is think "Rabelais" and I start to laugh at myself and the world, "Live Happy" is a great life motto!  If I was going to build a future around books, book collecting and private libraries, The Books In My Life would be the name for my business and Rabelais would be the little voice in my head reminding me to have fun with it.

    Once the name was set, I needed to find an image to define the look, feel and secret ethos for my new future.  Choosing the image seemed a daunting task at the time.  A picture of my library?  The cover image from Miller's The Books In My Life?  A custom image created specifically for me?  As my thinking evolved and while looking at my bookshelves, I realized that the image was right there, I'll simply take a photo of the spine illustration of the 5 volume Limited Edition Club edition of Gargantua and Pantagruel.  The Limited Edition Club edition, published in 1936, designed by D.W. Dwiggins, the master book designer, type designer, and revered book man of 20th century American publishing, especially in New England, was a perfect choice.  Not only would I use a photo of the spines as my image, I would acquire the font, Electra, designed by Dwiggins especially for this edition, as the font for everything I write about my business.  A perfect coordination, a business name, an image, a font, all with special meaning to me and all with special meaning, or at worst, specialist meaning in the world of great authors, book collecting and reading.  I used this image for my initial business cards and letter head:

    Not a great image but it had the special elements I wanted.  I was ready to move along and ordered business cards.

    A few months later, armed with business cards and a few ideas, I prepared to attend the 33rd Annual Boston International Antiquarian (ABAA) Book Fair, a very important event for me and my evolving ideas concerning my future.  I had not attended the Boston Fair for perhaps 10 years because of conflicts with various scholarly conferences I attended for my publishing work.  With the beginnings of an idea, a passion for book collecting and a willingness to start somewhere, my wife, Anne and I, headed into Boston where I expected to basically "work the floor" at the show, introduce myself to the esteemed book dealers, and start to test my ideas of how to join the battle.

    My one concrete goal was to meet certain dealers who were active in book blogging and the still newish, social media world of Twitter and Facebook.  Number 1on that list was  Lux Mentis of Portland, Maine, to meet Ian Kahn the proprietor and active rare book blogger.  After visiting the first row of the exhibit hall, Anne and I turned corner and found ourselves at the Lux Mentis booth.  Anne, without knowing my goals, started looking around without pressure, while I was trying to survey the books, determine how I would start a conversation with Mr. Kahn, and feeling a wee bit overwhelmed by how unprepared I really was to just jump into this madness.  Within a few minutes, Anne exclaimed, "Oh, my God, Tom look at this!"  And what was I too see but the image of my treasured Rabelais spine.  Yes, the actual printer's proof of the spine illustration, prepared for the Limited Edition Club edition of Gargantua and Pantagruel hanging on the wall of the booth, behind glass in a simple plastic frame, I believe the asking price was $525.  While my heart began to race with excitement,  Anne's excitement caught the attention of Ian Kahn and he quickly pounced, ready to make a sale. 

    The show had just opened, it was preview night, I don't ever like to tip my hand when negotiating for a book purchase (or anything else for that matter) and there I find myself, sharing in Anne's excitement yet horrified that Mr. Kahn was closing us on a sale.  I initially tried to calm the situation and establish some type of control.  Not that I didn't want the image, I was just not ready to make a snap decision.  I don't do snap decisions unless they come from the natural instinct of flight or fight.  Anne kept encouraging me to buy, Ian kept encouraging Anne, I kept stuttering, trying to gain control.  Finally, I was able to start a proper introduction and show Ian my business card with that iconic image.  At that point he realized that this sale would be one of his easiest at the show.  We chatted, he gave me some quick insight into the business and before long, we gave him a check for the image.  A one of a kind piece of book history is now safely stored in the private library of Anne and Tom Stone and the Dwiggins designed illustration sets the tone for my blog, consulting practice and dream to successfully grow, The Books In My Life.

    Rabelais, Gargantua and Pantagruel, To My Readers:

    Dear Friends and readers who may scan these tomes,
    Lay by all sense of prejudiced objection,
    My pages bring no virus or infection
    Across the thresholds of your virtuous homes.
    True they can teach you only scant perfection
    Save laughter's joys-though I confess I find
    No theme more welcome to my heart and mind,
    As I observe your melancholy fears,
    Your gib-cat airs, you saturnine dejection....
    Better to write of laughter than of tears,
    For Laughter is the essence of mankind.