Thursday, December 17, 2009

too long between time

not that I haven't acquired any books, nor sold any, but I haven't written anything. Sorry, have been a terrible blogster.

I recently found a copy of Modern Book Collecting by Robert Wilson. Published in 1980, this book has been considered an informed resource in the world of book collecting. While I found some information in the book worthwhile, overall it was very dated. The well respected Wilson had no inkling of the world that collectors in the 21st century would be facing. His forty years of experience in the "way it was" doesn't really help those of us in the cyberland of the way things ARE.

Wilson was a dealer as well as a collector and bibliographer. His perspective is different from one who collects, and doesn't own a respected downtown book salon (Wilson owned the Phoenix Book Shop in New York City). Some of his tales are comparable to those of John Baxter and others - being in the right place at the right time, having relationships with certain authors that are rewarded handsomely down the road, knowing the value of a particular author's work or the possible value in the future (yadda yadda), but his methodology has been compromised by the Internet - by Amazon - by ABE. Auctions are not the preferred way to option books, unless one is well heeled and well connected to a world of elitist collectors and international jet sets most of us would not ever get entrance into to begin with.

Wilson dismisses flea markets, library sales, used bookstores, etc. as meritless pursues for items that are merely "fools gold", yet to counter this claim, I just found a SIGNED copy of Throat Sprockets (a book that I greatly admire even though it's disturbing) by Tim Lucas in a used bookstore for a buck. In perfect condition!

I also found my biggest find to date, the 1936 Dawn Powell first edition Turn, Magic Wheel at a secondhand shop for a dollar as well. My guess is that the intended "vicitms" of his book are beginners, who the books was written to help anyway. I am somewhere between rookie and expert. I have had the luck too, which any collector has, for again "being in the right place at the right time." I will agree with Robert Wilson that it's important to collect things that interest you. That much we can agree on.

Booking Pleasures by Jack Matthews, published by Ohio University Press in 1996 is a companion to the Wilson book but views things from the author/collector's perspective as an academic as well as a collector of regional material. His stories are more telling as they are more homespun, more regional in nature, and the author's inclination to gather material for its own sake rather than Wilson's dealer mentality. Matthews never mentions turning a profit nor even selling his finds. That's at least half of Wilson's game. Booking Pleasure is a good read. They both are, really.

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