When Joyce and I first started buying books back in late 1969 (when we were married), we didn't really know what we were doing. All we knew? We wanted to read, read read. (And we still do.)
And so we went the Cheap Route. Book-of-the-Month Club (BOMC), Literary Guild (LG), the Fireside Theater (FT), all three of which actually re-published the publishers' editions in smaller, cheaper versions--great for us (we thought) back in our deeply impecunious years (both in grad school, living on her grad assistantship and my wee salary as a public school teacher). Sometimes we chose books over food (kidding--but not by much!).
Later, of course, we learned that those BOMC, LG, and FT editions were, in the resale/collectors' market, just about worthless. Oops. (Oddly, some of the FT plays do bring in a bit.)
A couple of years ago when we decided to begin selling our collection (well, some of it), we learned the Sad Truth about those cheap editions. So it goes. Fortunately, by the early 1970s we were buying publishers' editions--and first editions, first printings only (pretty much).
(BTW: You can see our list for sale--now over 1000 titles, thanks to Joyce--on Advanced Book Exchange. Here's the link.) Only about 5000 more to list!
All of this popped into prominence the other day when I got one of the catalogs I regularly receive from another book dealer, Between the Covers Rare Books (link to their website). On the front page (full color, slick paper) were a copy of Flannery O'Connor's novel Wise Blood (inscribed--$12,000) and Thomas Berger's early novel, Reinhart in Love (inscribed to his parents: $4500). Yikes!
And there was more:
- a signed Little Big Man (one of my favorite novels of ALL: $7500)
- Hart Crane's The Bridge (inscribed: $50,000).
- Scott Fitzgerald's Tender Is the Night (not signed! $37,500)
- Hemingway's in our time ($55,000)
Enough. I'm getting depressed. We really have nothing in this elevated price range (well, actually we do--a few--but we don't want to sell them ... yet).
And so we beat on, boats against the current ...