Friday Forgotten Book – Used and Rare

Used and Rare

Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone
St. Martin’s Press, 1997Used and Rare cvr sml

It begins with the search for a birthday present, something a little out of the ordinary and ends shortly after a $10,000 bid for a copy of Damon Runyon’s Guys and Dolls. It’s a story of a couple who set out to buy used books, at first reading copies, then nicer copies, then first editions and then first edition, first state with documented errata. It’s a story of book fever.

This relatively slender volume (215 pages) is well written and filled with interesting people and provides some, but not an expert-level education along the way. The Goldstones, who decided to leave the hassle and hustle of Manhattan for the calm of the Berkshires, are writers and this book, written in narrative fashion is entertaining. I sat down thinking I would read a few pages and finished it later in the evening.

What this book is about, more than books really, is people who sell books and they are a varied lot. As the Goldstones venture ever further from their home in search of information and books they learn that a book is not the same thing to everyone, and to many it is merely a commodity.

The one thing that sets the Goldstones apart from many book collectors is that they buy only what they want to read and believe to be significant and worthy works by authors they admire . This isn’t about trying to figure out which new author’s book is going to escalate in price, it’s about purchasing copies of Dickens, Steinbeck, Orwell, Stoker, Conrad, Hemmingway; all whose books fall under the category of literary modern firsts. There are a few mentions in passing of mystery authors, Chandler and Hammett for instance, and there is one very brief mention of the hypermodern phenomenon.

This is an entertaining book. It isn’t a handbook for collecting nor is it intended to be a reference work, it’s simply an autobiographical story of two people got interested in and found out a lot about used and rare books.

If you are looking for a book containing a goodly amount of information to increase your expertise about book collecting, you will likely be disappointed, but for entertainment on a fascinating subject, you may find this very enjoyable.

(Note: the scan here is the whole cover of the book, the book you see ON the cover is just an edited photo)

This review is my 7th entry in a series of Friday Forgotten Books.

Series organizer Patti Abbott hosts more FFB reviews at her own blog, along with a complete list of today’s participating blogs and the books reviewed.

About Richard Robinson

Enjoying life in Portland, OR
This entry was posted in Friday Forgotten Book, Review and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Friday Forgotten Book – Used and Rare

  1. Bill Crider says:

    Sounds like my kind of book.

  2. Richard says:

    It’s pretty entertaining, Bill, and not over-the-top technical about every fine point of serious book collecting, while it does educate as needed along the way.

  3. Patti Abbott says:

    I love books about books. I hope to find it.

  4. SteveHL says:

    There is a very good book about book-collectors, “A Gentle Madness: Bibliophiles, Bibliomanes and the Eternal Passion for Books” by Nicholas Basbanes. This also won’t teach you much about how to collect books (other than the fact that being very wealthy is usually the first step); it deals with people who have been noteworthy collectors, including some who amassed their collections by stealing them.

    If you think you have too many books around the house, this will help put things in a better perspective.

  5. I remember reading USED & RARE when it was first published. As you say, Rick, it’s not a guide to book collecting, but it communicates the joy of collecting beautifully.

  6. Richard says:

    Steve – I’ve read A Gentle Madness, and also his more recent Editions and Impressions. Both very enjoyable indeed.

  7. Richard says:

    That joy of collecting, George, is just as much a happy thing when it’s us finding an old paperback as with the wealthy collectors. I’m sure of it.

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