Having been a book seller, off and on, for about twenty years, I fell in love with The Goldstones’ Used and Rare, Warmly Inscribed, and Slightly Chipped-all books about Real book dealers. Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and countless poor yahoos such as myself are just in it for the money-these dealers live and breath rare books. Used and Rare is the story of a couple looking for a copy of War and Peace-only to find that there are gazillions of editions, the better ones priced well out of their range. And well out of the range of most normal people, who would just read the copy they found at the library.
I am not currently selling books, as I was a low end dealer and never had first editions of War and Peace or Gulliver’s Travels to sell. Used and Rare deals with Antiquarian Bookdealers-the very serious people who used AB Bookman to spread their fame and wealth before the internet made it possible for anyone to sell anything. One of the first book dealers our hero talks to hangs up on him when tells the dealer he just wants to read War and Peace-not own a rare copy with parchment maps in the back. Another dealer is shocked to find that someone let The Goldstones into his bookstore-clearly these were the wrong kind of people to shop in his store.
From one tale to another, The Goldstones turn into bibliophiles themselves and start to lust after rare books which they can hardly afford, but find they can’t live without. While I have owned very few great books, I share my rooms with rather a lot of not so great books. I own a lot of junk from the long ago days when I just bought everything that caught my eye. Like all things you buy for resale, condition is one of the biggest factors. I am always shocked when I go a used book stores and find books in poor condition or mildewed. Lots of antique stores have tattered old books laying about-it’s old so it must be worth something. My books are not great, but they are in the best condition I can find.
The Goldstones are amazed at the books they find, First Editions in near mint condition of books they have only read about. There are book sales, and book auctions, and a trip to the National Library. The Goldstones make the love of books seem a natural and organic thing. Once you start, you can’t really stop. Even though I am not actively pursuing books at the moment, I do still look at books whenever I have the odd moment and a store is nearby. There is something about a roomful of books that is so very satisfying.
If you haven’t read Used and Rare, read it soon. It’s fun and odd and if you love books, sure to make you a bit jealous. But then, you can seek out Rare and Unusual books yourself-if the dealer will let you into his shop.