Musings on Place, Travel, Books, Literature, Poetry, Literary Criticism, Collecting, Media, Life and the Arts

Archive for May, 2010

May 31st, 2010 • Posted in Bookstores

Cheaper Books or More Bookstores

Capitalism unfortunately presents some rather grim dichotomies…for instance: for most of the 20th century Britain had in place what was known as the ‘Net Book Agreement (NBA).’ "It," says John Sutherland in Bestsellers: A Very Short Introduction, "effectively forbade on pain of collective trade boycott, the selling of books at less, or more, than the sale price posted on the wares by the publisher…", a single copy purchased at a corner shop in the Isle of Man would cost the same at Hatchard’s in London, regardless of the fact that the latter had ordered a thousand times more copies from the publisher than the former; so there was no unfair incentive to buy at the big corporate store. Lovely, small independent adventurous book shops were protected from bullying cut throat behavior,  as were creative, entrepreneurial, adventurous small publishers, since Britain resisted a  ‘sale of return’ policy for the retailer…the kind that Amanda Jernigan has recently objected to in an open letter to wigs at Mount Allison University…

The U.K. abandoned the NBA in 1995.

In bestowing on us cheaper books, big box capitalism – appealing to the majority of consumers – does-in diversity and gouges charm and choice  from the local landscape.

In Canada, with Stephen Harper in power, it’s highly unlikely we’ll see anything like what the French have instituted. Lauren Elkin explains:

According to a report published in 2007, independent bookstores, which, according to an IPSOS study, make up about 41% of the book retail market, face certain challenges of being in the retail business – high rents, low return on investment, high social fees to be paid for their employees – but, as is oft repeated in France, le livre n’est pas un produit comme des autres. A book is not a commodity like any other. Therefore, the Minister of Culture, Christine Albanel, introduced a ‘plan livre’ – book plan – at the end of 2007 which aims to help out independent bookstores who fit a certain profile. The label ‘LIR ’ – librairie indépendente de référence – was launched in 2008. In order to qualify, there are a list of requirements, notably: the bookstore must not have access to a centralized warehouse from which their stock is replenished, the stock must contain a majority of books in print for more than one year, and the bookstore’s owner must have total autonomy over the bookstore’s holdings. Once the label has been bestowed, the bookstore becomes eligible for a variety of subsidies from the Centre National du Livre (CNL ) – interest-free loans for development projects, funds with which to acquire stock (up to 500,000 euros per year of the CNL ’s budget have been earmarked for this purpose), reductions on social fees for employees, tax relief, and funding to sponsor readings, festivals, and other activities. (The funding of the CNL increased in 2008 from 1.3 to 2.5 million euros.)

…no. Here we let the free market work its magic.

May 30th, 2010 • Posted in Authors and Books

Wrong Demographic

(Elitist Obnoxious snob alert:) I have too many books. So, after seeing an ad for a community garage sale I decided to buy a table and haul some out, in hopes of not having to haul them back in. Unfortunately








that this

was not

the right demographic for what I had to sell.

The tragedy is, that neither are used bookstore owners…none of them, it seems, these days, are terribly keen on buying or even trading for quality fiction in very good + condition. There really is a crying need for a good online used book exchange/marketplace website where like-minded buyers and sellers can meet freely, to conduct business successfully. Anyone know of such a place?

May 28th, 2010 • Posted in Authors and Books

Argerich and Marton tickle ivories to Mendelssohn


May 28th, 2010 • Posted in On The Book

“One of the most elaborate pieces of bookbinding of the period”

As Betty S. Smith writing in Harvard Magazine tells it: Sarah Wyman Whitman was an original and compelling figure in late nineteenth century Boston. Very much a public personality, she was a painter, a designer of book covers and stained glass, an interior decorator, an author, poet, teacher… She became the first professional woman artist regularly employed by Boston publisher Houghton Mifflin to give their mass-produced book covers a sense of simple elegance through line, color, and lettering. Many of the authors were her friends, including Sarah Orne Jewett, James Russell Lowell, and Oliver Wendell Holmes. In 20 years, Whitman designed well over 200 books (Collecting Opportunity Alert), frequently incorporating her design signature, a “flaming heart.”

Here’s one of her ‘best’ designs:


Image from here.

 An Island Garden by THAXTER, Celia, with pictures and illuminations by Childe Hassam, featuring Thaxter’s gardens at Appledore on the Isle of Shoals off the New Hampshire coast.

Here’s a description from Horizon Books: "Boston and New York, Houghton Mifflin & Co, 1895, First edition, first issue. . original elaborate pictorial cloth, gilt poppies design on both covers designed by Sarah Wyman Whitman, and one of her best designs, initial on endpaper, fine clean condition, plates bright. . 8vo [23.5 x 17 cm]; ix, 126 pp, color lithographed frontispiece, color vignette on title page, 21 color illustrations, with 12 fine chromolithographed plates, each with letterpressed tissue guard, garden plan not in list of illustrations. . This is one of the best American gardening books of the 19th century, excellent in art, binding and content. Jacob Blanck, BAL 19923: "one of the most elaborate pieces of bookbinding of the period". The book is famous for Hassam’s color plates, which are superb, and inspired an exhibit at the National Museum of American Art." 

Yours for $1,183.

May 26th, 2010 • Posted in Wicked Quotes

A thinking reed


"A thinking reed - It is not from space that I must seek my dignity, but from the government of my thought. I shall have no more if I possess worlds. By space the universe encompasses and swallows me up like an atom; by thought I comprehend the world."

Blaise Pascal, Pensees

May 25th, 2010 • Posted in Authors and Books

Sonny Mehta and Eva Gedin on Stieg Larsson

Aired last night on Charlie Rose in advance of today’s publishing (in the U.S.) of Larsson’s The Girl who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest, third and final book in his Millennium Trilogy.

May 25th, 2010 • Posted in Authors and Books

Plan Your Vacation: America’s Biggest Summer Used Book Sales

Friends of Lancaster Public Library 55th Annual Book Sale Lancaster, PA 250,000 May 25 – 26, 2010
Friends of Tompkins County Public Library Book Sale Ithaca, NY 250,000 May 25, 2010
Kent Memorial Library Summer Book Sale Kent, CT 100,000 May 28 – Jun 27, 2010
AAUW Buffalo Branch 56th Annual Scholarship Book Sale Tonawanda, NY 100,000 Jun 2 – 6, 2010
Johnson County Library 2010 Sizzlin’ Summer Book Sale Overland Park, KS 120,000 Jun 8 – 12, 2010
Friends of the Abilene Public Library Annual Book Sale Abilene, TX 100,000 Jun 17 – 20, 2010
Friends of the Loudoun County Public Library Annual Book Sale Leesburg , VA 100,000 Jun 25 – 27, 2010
Book Nook Bonanza 2010 York, PA 250,000 Jun 25 – 27, 2010
Kent Memorial Library Summer Book Sale Kent, CT 100,000 Jul 02 – Aug 01, 2010
Friends of C.H. Booth LIbrary 35th Annual Book Sale Newtown, CT 120,000 Jul 10 – 14, 2010
Friends of CH Booth Library Newtown, CT 150,000 Jul 10 – 13, 2010
Friends of the Plano Public Library Annual Sale Plano, TX 100,000 Jul 15 – 17, 2010
Friends of the Oak Park Public Library Book Sale Oak Park, IL 100,000 Aug 6 – 7, 2010
IMCPL Foundation/Secondhand Prose Indianapolis, IN 100,000

Aug 13 – 21, 2010

 Source: Book Sale Manager
May 25th, 2010 • Posted in On The Book

Art Imitating Life; Life: Art and Photography

Visited the Eastman House Museum  of Photography in Rochester, NY over the weekend. Took some snaps. The garden is filled with

NB Flowers


that resembles the art found in Thornton’s

Night blowing Cereus

The Temple of

Flora (1807 edition: $185,000 on Biblio; 1981 Taschen edition: $150)

May 24th, 2010 • Posted in Authors and Books

Audio Interview with Allen and Pat Ahearn: On Books to Collect

"The Quill & Brush was established in 1976 as an outgrowth of a part-time business run by Allen and Patricia Ahearn who started collecting and cataloging books in the early 1960s. The Ahearns have over 45 years of experience in the field. At present the Quill & Brush is operated by Allen and Pat and their two daughters, Beth Fisher and Sue Regan.

The Quill & Brush specializes in first editions of literature, mystery/detective fiction and poetry, as well as collectible books in all fields. The firm focuses mainly on books published from the middle of the 19th century to the present. Their stock of over 15,000 books is housed in a beautiful library in the Ahearns’ home, nestled in the woods at the base of scenic Sugarloaf Mountain in Maryland…"

 …which is where we met to talk about ebooks and their impact on the future pricing of collectible books, about collecting what others don’t; first books; Larry McMurtry, best used book selling practices and much more. Please listen here:

Subscribe to Nigel Beale’s Biblio File Podcast here

Copyright © 2010 by Nigel Beale.


May 21st, 2010 • Posted in On Book Collecting

Lusting after Lustig

I had the pleasure recently of interviewing Leslie Morris, Curator of Modern Books and Manuscripts at the Houghton Library, Harvard University (stay tuned for the audio). We talked primarily about James Laughlin and, from the perspective of a collector, the history of the New Directions publishing house. One wonderful suggestion Leslie had was to acquire editions sporting dust jackets designed by Alvin Lustig.

Images from here.

Lusting for more? Check out: , a site developed and designed by Kind Company with the assistance of Lustig’s wife Elaine Lustig Cohen who "managed Lustig’s studio in California and New York, serving as secretary, production assistant and draftsperson. After Lustig’s death in 1955, Elaine closed his studio and established her own design practice and became one of the few successful women in graphic design."