This past week saw a new world record was set for the most money paid for an American book. The winning $9,826,500 bid was placed, at Christie’s, by the Mount Vernon Ladies Association which won them George Washington’s personal copy of the Constitution and Bill of Rights printed in 1789.
What makes this book so cool is that it has all of Washington’s notes and thoughts scribbled throughout. Pretty crazy to think about George holding this very book while circling passages as he (and the rest of the country) is trying to figure out just what all the President is allowed to do. Very very cool. The book is making its way back to Mount Vernon where it was until 1876, when it began its journey through private libraries and auction houses.
Here is one for the book collector wish list: a true first (First Edition, First Printing, First UK) of Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale. Just a couple of rough spots around the edges of the dust jacket. Fantastic.
This is one of the 4,728 first run printings from 1953 and can be yours for about $80,000. I wonder how many of the 4,728 are still around? The seller says that Ian Fleming designed the cover himself. That’s pretty cool if the concept was indeed his.
Back in 2008 the Guardian posted a slideshow of the 6 most popular covers the book has had. The original cover sure looks understated compared to all of the gambling Bond girls that made the book covers in later publishings.
Last week I finished David and Natalie Bauman’s Rare Finds. It does an okay job of explaining some of the more popular categories (Americana, Children’s Lit, Photography, etc.) that people collect (and some nice photography), but the really interesting stuff comes at the back of the book in the indexes, Frequently Asked Questions, Book Bindings and More Resources sections.
One part that I want to share here is the bit on book formats. If you’re in the market for old books you will see many books’ sizes abbreviated as 4to, 8vo, 12mo and so on. You might also see the terms folio, quarto, octavo, etc. These all indicate how many time a printed sheet was folded in order to produce the pages in the book. So a quarto (meaning one-quarter) means that the original printed sheet was folded once in half and then folded in half again. This gives you 4 leaves (8 pages) all at one quarter of the original sheet.
So folio is folded once yielding 4 pages, quarto yields 8, octavo gives you 16 pages, etc. Now there was no standard size for the sheet of paper that printers started with, so there is some variance in how big to expect a book to be. But here is a handy chart of the average sizes found in older books, from page 73 of the Bauman’s book:
Again, their book is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the bibliophile’s world, but it would be good for someone thinking about collecting or for a completist collecting “books about books”.
I love stories like this… The NY Times published the recent account of a Brown University archivist finding, what is believed to be one of only five copies of a print done by revolutionary heavyweight Paul Revere himself. No doubt the chance of this happening increases if your job is handling books from the 1700′s. But it’s still pretty cool to think that such a unique rarity was just stuck in the back of a book on physics. Revere was quite the engraver and printer, flooding the colonies with pamphlets and political information. He’s certainly not known for any kind of iconic or religious art, which ups the “cool factor” of the find. Be sure to click through to read the article on the library archivist and see the photos.
If nifty old archives of historical significance interest you then you should tune into Book TV (on CSPAN2) this weekend. At noon, on Saturday, they will be touring old bookstores and the Nichols Collection at the University of Oklahoma. They have books going back as far as the 15th century! They also have a History of Science Collection with papers and books from Galileo, Copernicus and other famous people in white lab coats. I think it’ll be fun to watch.
This weekend is shaping up to be an amazingly busy and book filled, with three great annual events happening:
- The 9th Annual Alabama Book Festival, down in Montgomery is on Saturday, April 21st from 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
- Also on Saturday, April 21st is the Birmingham Reads – Brookwood Celebration at Brookwood Mall from 10:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.
- Running the full weekend is the third annual Used-Book Sale at St. Francis of Assisi. I have no clue as to how the pickings will be this year, but I’m told that there will be tons of books again. They have a $5 wine/cheese “get in first to buy/preview party” Friday night. The sale continues Saturday, 21st from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. and Sunday, April 22nd from 1 p.m.-5 p.m. They also have a silent auction planned for some signed first editions.
Phew. I have no idea how much I’ll be able to squeeze into this weekend. I hope you get to make it out and about though.
Nicholas Basbanes is world’s leading expert on “books about books”. In 2009, during a BookTV interview (and tour of his home library), he teased his next book about the history of paper. It looks as if that new book, titles Common Bond, will finally get finished and printed. Basbanes is slated to speak at a University of Missouri dinner next week. An interview in the school’s library newsletter (PDF download) has Basbanes talking about the book briefly, saying:
“…I am loosely describing as a cultural history of paper and papermaking. It is a story that covers two thousand years but, consistent with the way I do things, is pretty much an exercise in storytelling. I go where the good stories are.”
The book has traces paper’s invention, use and future from the earliest pulp recipes in China through the current artisan and preservation efforts of today. The folks over at the FineBooks blog (the blog where I picked up on this and one you should be reading) said that Knopf is the publisher. I checked the Knopf Fall 2012 and didn’t see it listed, so it looks like it will be a Spring 2013 title at the earliest.
Here is a quick photo tour of the used-book store that is maintained by the Homewood Library’s Friends of the Library Group. It’s located downstairs at the Homewood Library and is open:
- Monday-Friday 10:00 a.m.-4 p.m.
- Saturday 10:00 a.m.-2 p.m.
This is by far the best library bookstore to visit if you are looking for magazines. They have shelves and shelves of magazines that I’ve never heard of, plus all of the big popular ones. If magazines and journals are your thing – THIS is the shop you have to visit. Magazines cost ten cents each.
The whole used-bookstore is pretty big, divided among three rooms, with a so-so turnover in the Fiction shelves. Most everything is discarded library books. Though finding donated copies (with no library stickers or stamps) isn’t uncommon. I have seen First Edition books priced at $5 and they do keep a 50 cent table, which is always worth glancing through when you’re at the library.
The first thing to do when you arrive is look down just inside the door. There is a cardboard box there with Free Stuff in it. It’s usually just magazines, maps, photos, etc. but you may find something there. Also, in the magazine room, there is another bookshelf unit and another box with free books and magazines for the taking.
I encourage you to check out this post on book collecting over on Exile Bibliophile. I recently discovered that blog while clicking around the discussions over on LibraryThing. Here’s one of my favorite snippets:
“Not everyone who owns a lot of books is a book collector. Granted. I wear pants most days, and own many pairs, yet don’t think of myself as a pants connoisseur. Book collectors are the same way. A book collection has a purpose beyond accumulating, beyond, even, reading. A book collection has a purpose. What should the focus be? That’s the beauty of it.”
I like people who group their books in some logical or at least interesting fashion. I REALLY like people who dive deep into a category or genre or author. Those are always great conversationalists. And indeed. That is the beauty of it.
This is a GREAT weekend to buy used books in Birmingham, with THREE new places/events to buy.
First, Vestavia Hills library has shut down as they are moving to their new building (slated to open in early-November) so they are toting books outside to a tent and selling what they can. It’s being organized by volunteers, so they start selling sometime between 9a-10a and stop sometime around 6p. It all depends on their help. But be prepared to stay. There is no organization. So a child’s book will be stacked on a business book sitting next to a computer programming text book. But if you love to sort through new and dusty books. This is for you. They bring out new boxes every couple of hours, so the selection changes.
Ex-library books (hardback and paperback) are $.50. Donated hardbacks are $1 and donated paperbacks are $.50. Magazines are $.10. You can also pay $5 and fit as much as you can into a grocery sack.
The sale started yesterday and runs through all of next week.
Second, is the Whistle Stop Festival, out in Irondale. The library, has been culling their collection and taking donations for weeks and is setting up tables alongside the usual festival fair, from 9a-4p. I have not heard of the prices yet, but if they follow their usual price schedule, hardbacks will be a dollar and paperbacks will be $.50. Traditionally, they have not made a distinction between donated and ex-library.
Third, this weekend 2nd & Charles (which BBJ mentioned earlier this week) is supposed to open Saturday morning. The Books-A-Million crew had an invite-only preview party last night. I didn’t get to go, but have seen some photos. It’s in a vacated Goody’s department store and is massive. Very cool looking, too. I haven’t seen prices yet, but they will be buying books, cd’s, dvd’s, videogames, etc. all day, every day too. Hopefully they will make their open date.
I have fun this weekend and do tell about any loot you score!
I had a project-update meeting at The Red Cat coffee house last week and walked out with more than just a good cup of coffee. Down on the bottom shelf of one of the bookcases are… books! Used books at that. Apparently, the owner and employees bring in books, from their personal collections, to sell.
Hardbacks and textbooks are $5 and mass/trade paperbacks are $2. I’ve had Goldstone’s Used and Rare for quite some time, but have never bought the next two in the series. So I was quite pleased to find a great copy of Slightly Chipped, which I was able to walk out after literally counting out pennies. It’s the kind of serendipitous find that will set your day back upright!
It’s just the one shelf right now, but I am told that turn over is high. So I’ll be checking back to see what’s new.
Also, I want to mention that the Alabama Bloggers group is getting together for lunch this upcoming Friday, August 27 at 11:30a at The Red Cat. If you’re downtown stop by and say “Hi”. If you’ve never been, don’t be shy, this will be my first meeting too.
Blogs I Like
- Alabama Booksmith
- B’ham Public Library
- Book Chase
- Book Patrol
- Bookshelf Porn
- Exile Bibliophile
- Fine Books Blog
- Loud poet
- Nathalie Foy
- Oh My Godwin!
- Reed Next’s Next Read
- Turn the Page
- AL.com Books
- AL.com Books Forum
- Alabama Center for the Book
- Alabama Writers' Forum
- Bham Wiki
- Book TV
- Menasha Ridge Press
- The Literacy Council
- Book Art
- Book Collecting
- Book Column
- Book Covers
- Book Design
- Book Reviews
- Book Sale
- Book Talk
- Bookstore Ideas
- Digital Publishing
- Free Books
- Friday Finds
- Gifts for Book People
- New Releases
- On the TV
- On the Web
- Publishing Industry News
- Site News
- Tools for Readers
- Upcoming Titles