Wednesday, February 25, 2004
I've been back from Vegas for almost a week now, and things have been hectic. A trip to the suburbs yesterday with my friend and colleague Dan (Sanctuary Books, NYC) was a much needed respite from the stress of the shop and finances. It was a house call, and the owners had a small collection of mostly French books. A few nice bird books, an unusual Marie Antoinette item and a stray volume from a 17th century anatomical work. But almost everything had a least one defect - a loose hinge, a scuffed binding, and worse - a lacking title page. The owner clearly wanted to sell, but he had the disease - internet know-it-all-ism. He'd found Abe listings for many of the books, and assumed that the most expensive listing might compare with the item he had. Wrong. One of the hard learned lessons of my bookselling careeer is that an ordinary copy of a book might bring only a fraction of the price a distinguished copy. A book might be distinguished by being in truly outstanding condition, or in a later binding by a significant art binder. Signed or inscribed copies and associations are similar. I'm lumping an awful lot of categories together here, but the point is simply that an author and a title should not lead one to expect that the highest price listed on Abe is relevant to the book on the shelf at home.
Posted by don lindgren at 9:22 PM