Books about books may be books you add to your bookshelf
Book people tend to fall somewhere on a continuum. The continuum begins with readers, which is where most people find themselves -- that is, if they read at all. Next are collectors, a smaller group, but a more driven one. Go one step further down the continuum and you'll find an even smaller group of collectors and ardent bibliophiles. These are the people most likely to be attracted to books about books.
If you find yourself in that group -- or maybe just want to explore the subject more -- you'll discover a world of stories that read like treasure hunts, tales of booksellers, exhaustively researched bibliographies, and some fun fiction to boot. Here are some of our favorite books about books in those categories.
Treasure hunts. A favorite here is Charles P. Everitt's "The Adventures of a Treasure Hunter." Everitt was born in 1873. His book was published in 1951. As its title suggests, Everitt was driven to find rare books -- and he did, including one of the five existing copies of the first edition of Poe's "Murders in the Rue Morgue." A thoroughly enjoyable read (and, ironically, a hard book to find).
Another favorite is Andrea Mays's "The Millionaire and the Bard," the story of Henry and Emily Folger, who spent a liftime accumlating material about William Shakespeare, including nearly half of the existing First Folios, which are now in a vault in the Folger Shakespeare Library. (Henry and Emily's ashes are there, too.) The Folgers amassed such a collection that although the library was dedicated in 1932, librarians are still cagtaloging the collection today. This is a great story of what a collector can do with an almost unlimited amount of cash.
Bookseller memoirs. A current favorite in this category is Shaun Bythell's "The Diary of a Bookseller." Bythell is the proprietor of The Bookshop in Wigtown, Scotland. His diary includes trips to buy collections, stories of the characters in the town, his eccentric employees, and even daily sales totals, all told with warmth and humor.
A memoir of bookselling in the early part of the 20th century, when rare books seemed more plentiful and easier to find, if David A. Randall's "Dukedom Large Enough: Reminiscences of a Rare Book Dealer 1929-1956." Randall was head of Scribner's Rare Book Department and librarian of the famous Lily Collection. How rare were the books he handled? How about two Gutenberg Bibles!
Bibliographies and reference. These aren't exactly page-turners, but they are indispensible to any book collector. A must is John Carter's "ABC for Book Collectors," probably the best single volume for anyone wanting to learn book terminology.
Fiction and fun. Samuel Hirsh Gottlieb's "Overbooked in Arizona" is a rollicking story about a bookscout who finds himself in deep doo-doo. John Dunning's "Booked To Die" is a mystery involving a bookscout and, of course, a fabulous collection, made all the more interesting because it's set in Denver. "The Madman's Library: The Strangest Books, Manuscripts, and Other Literary Curiosities from History" is just a lot of fun.
And coming soon, a chapbook of our own, the fifth in our Printed Page series with stories about books, bookselling, and book people. It's titled "The Karamazov Letter" and it will be out soon!
A Printed Page gift certificate makes book shopping easy
You don't even have to come in to get a gift certificate for your favorite book-lover. You can call it in, and we'll mail the gift certificate to you -- or to that lucky recipient. Call Dan anytime: 303-880-1217.
Join us for our holiday open house Wednesday, Dec. 14
Our store's halls will be fully decked for our holiday open house Wednesday, December 14 from 5 pm to 8:00 pm. We'll have goodies to eat, drinks to, uh, drink, and books to give as presents -- or to keep for yourselves, we don't care. All books are 10% off! Space is limited, so please RSVP to theshop@printedpagebookshop. com.