Posted by admin on 07.31.2009 at 12:58 pm
When the American Archives Series books came to the ARC department, many of them had missing boards and other issues compromising their structural integrity. They also smelled of the ancient organic dust that accompanies old leather bound books, reminding me that I was due for a Tetanus booster shot. That said, my expectations were low.
A quick glimpse of the market revealed a value for these volumes at around $100-200 a piece. Not bad, but given their present state, and the collective need for some TLC from a sympathetic binder, these tomes were destined to be sold for scrap at auction. After plowing through a few of these, I came across American Archives; Fifth Series, Volume I. A cursory glance of this item suggested it would fare the same fate as its siblings. Since I literally couldn’t judge this book by its cover as it didn’t have one, I dug right in. And to my surprise, the latter half of the book revealed a true diamond in the rough.
There in the back, just waiting to be discovered was a pristine facsimile copy of the Declaration of Independence encapsulated within Read more…
Posted by Rudy on 11.19.2008 at 12:03 pm
This is how it all starts. The obsession.
Someone e-mails customer service. It’s an ARC book, featuring a Picasso lithograph. The email is forwarded to me, as I respond to ARC emails. Because I’m nosy, I look up the person making the enquiry. He is an art dealer in Beverly Hills. This is a very expensive book. That means a phone call.
I’m an infant in the rare book world, still happily grabbing at my toes and making delighted gurgly sounds when I find something cool. When I call the dealer about the book, I expect to learn more about the book than I will be able to tell him. I answered his questions; he suffered through my painful French as I read through the publishing information. I sent him a photograph. He bought the book. He also took the time to teach me why this book was important, what to look for in this kind of art book, and what resources would be helpful for the future.
So. . .
Being an infant, I’m insatiably curious. Read more…
2 Comments » | Tagged Antiquarian Ramblings, ARC, lithograph, tara gilchrist, translation
Posted by Rudy on 09.02.2008 at 11:31 am
In the course of our days in the Antiquarian, Rare, and Collectable Books (ARC) section at Better World Books, we come across a number of gems and treasures. At least once a day, one of our bibliographers or cataloguers will excitedly share the latest and greatest tomes to come our way. I suppose one could liken it to Christmas morning: each box that we open is sure to contain a delight, though unknown until the moment it is revealed.
When I was a young child, I recall an oft-heard response from my mother: “I’ll believe it when I see it.” While she was mostly referring to my empty promises to clean up my room, practice the piano, or finish my homework, I usually find myself expressing that same sentiment when one of our ARC team members describes the latest ‘find’. Sure enough, once I see it, I am in awe.
We’ve taken that adage to heart and, for the last 8 months, have been putting a number of finer items up for public inspection on eBay. I know, I know, eBay?! It wasn’t until I obtained some obscure items for my personal collection of ecclesiastical history on eBay that I really became a believer. There are lots of advantages to eBay: a plethora of images, unlimited text descriptions, an open forum for Q&A, not to mention lots of exposure for obscure items and open-market competition. We’ve found such great success there that we have hired a full-time ARC Specialist with a focus on the eBay market.
So far, ARC’s presence on the eBay marketplace has connected a collector of antique Chinese drawings with an extensive collection of rare facsimiles. It has found a home for a hand-made collection of Walt Whitman photographs and a volume of plates from medieval Gospel books. And, it significantly augmented the collection of one researcher with the addition of facsimiles of the Washington Manuscript of the Minor Prophets in the Freer Collection and the Berlin Fragment of the Book of Genesis to his private collection. And, lest you think that all that we offer is from dusty and little known nooks of libraries, we’ve also been known to list limited edition prints of Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley, along with collectable editions of Popular Mechanics, TIME, and Harper’s Monthly – ok, ok, and a few MAD magazines and comic books as well.
While we will continue to list our entire ARC collection on BetterWorld.com – now more than 60,000 items – be sure to visit our eBay auctions and store where you will find some of the more interesting items that just have to been seen to be appreciated.
Posted by admin on 07.05.2008 at 9:50 am
For those who were there, you caught the Better World Books team making quite the splash at the recent annual meeting of our nation’s librarians and library professionals. For those who weren’t, you missed a rare opportunity to see us at our best, relaxed and basking in the glow of the best jobs in the world: taking books which were either donated to or discarded by libraries and creating opportunities for literacy and success on nearly every continent of our small globe.
(L-R, standing: Phil Sorberg, Client Support; Christopher Johnson, Director, Community Outreach; Rudy Reyes Jr., Director, Sales and ARC; Dustin Holland, Vice President; Walter Sears, Director, Library Services; kneeling: Christian Blue and Jacob Fu, Account Representatives.)
We enjoyed seeing so many of our old friends and meeting some new ones. We also bumped into a number of our closest collaborators including Emily Kirkpatrick, Sr. Vice President at the National Center for Family Literacy. She insisted on getting a photo that she could put on her desk — we take no responsibility for the office rivalry that is sure to ensue.
Thanks to all who stopped by to say hello. We look forward to seeing you next year (theme to-be-determined; suggestions welcomed)!
Have your say » | Tagged Uncategorized, ALA, American Library Association, anaheim, ARC, california, library
Posted by Rudy on 05.06.2008 at 6:58 am
A few years ago, in the midst of my doctoral studies, I had the privilege of joining with a professor of early Christianity at the University of Notre Dame to teach a course on pilgrimage. One of the central tenants of our exploration of this religious phenomenon was an old adage: “Often, it is not so much the destination, but the journey of getting there.” Each year, for example, tens of thousands come and go from the Way of Santiago de Compostella in Spain . Some travel the entire length of the Way, and others only a few miles. Many will never see the great Cathedral, but it is, in the end, about the journey. I was reminded of this a week or so ago when one of the bibliographers in our Antiquarian, Rare, and Collectable Books section shared with me a tattered blue volume bearing the name of Aldous Huxley.
In my hands I held a first U.S. edition, first printing (stated G-T) of Time Must Have a Stop, Huxley’s 1944 dystopia. Huxley is, of course, more widely known as the author of Brave New World, the first of a series of rather famous novels which would appear in the mid-20th century, depicting the future downfall of society. It would be followed by Orwell’s 1984 in 1949 and Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 in 1953. It is fairly unremarkable as far as first editions go; it is one of Huxley’s later works and is in less than mint condition. Nevertheless, this volume has captivated my attention for the last few days.
As I began to thumb through it, I discovered a number of ephemeron between the leaves: a New York Times clipping of a ‘study’ of James Joyce dated 22 December 1957, the front and rear flaps of the missing dust jacket, and pages 509-512 of C. Rolo’s omnibus of Huxley’s work, The World of Aldous Huxley. Perhaps most interesting, though, is a post card addressed to one J. Richard Stafford of Elyria, Ohio, from none other than Aldous Huxley. “Thank you,” Huxley writes in his own hand, “for your friendly letter. I can’t answer your Questions [sic.] about Pound, as I know too little of his work. Aldous Huxley.” The stationery bears the name of Aldous L. Huxley, Wrightwood , California . Huxley has marked through Wrightwood and written above it: “3276 Deronda , LA 28” (now 90068 – there’s a neat ‘street view’ on Google™ Maps).
I cannot describe how captivating I found this volume. I began to examine each page of the volume, looking for notes, doodles, anything to tell me more about this Mr. Stafford. Was he a familiar of Huxley’s? of Pound’s? Was he a scholar? Was he simply drawing parallels between the work of the two men? Alas, I have found nothing, though not for lack of trying. The postmark of the card is not completely visible; I can only make out December. The rate for a postcard, however, was 2-cents, so it was likely after January 1952 when that new rate took effect (it had been 1-cent since 1898!). There is, at present, a home at the address to which Huxley addressed the card, but I have not been able to reach anyone there, though it is not as if estates were retained in families as in days gone by. But, I digress. Enough!
This short journey of mine to explore the life-history of this particular book – its various relics and hagiography – and its presumed owner, Mr. Stafford, as well as the latter’s relationship with Huxley, has consumed my days of late. It is as if this particular volume is on its own pilgrimage, from owner to owner, from shelf to shelf, giving witness not only to itself but to those with whom it has come into contact. I, on the other hand, am more like a spectator than a pilgrim. Yet, without we spectators, who were somehow foreseen like Waugh’s builders of Brideshead, these pilgrims would fall victim to a fate too horrible to imagine. It is their journey that we share and, in doing so, share in those of one another. I am happy to have been along its way and to have shared in its journey.
Have your say » | Tagged Antiquarian Ramblings, ARC, huxley, joyce, Rudy Reyes Jr.
Posted by Rudy on 02.21.2008 at 12:35 pm
A friend and I hopped a train to Chicago last month to catch the Lyric’s performance of Verdi’s La Traviata. As we boarded the train, it was the usual aisle shuffle, weaving past newspapers, crossed legs, hand baggage, and the like. We noticed, across the aisle, a gentleman reading on a new e-reader. He looked relaxed, unfettered by large pages of the newspaper, and unburdened by turning pages. My friend asked an innocent question: “Isn’t this bad for companies like yours?”
I’m a book lover (alias: hoarder; scientific name: bibliophile). I enjoy looking at books: holding them, flipping pages, separating un-cut periodical pages, etc. I am hard pressed to read anything on the screen. I find it so difficult to have any kind of interaction with a screen. Anything sent to me in this way is printed out at first opportunity (on the back of scrap paper, of course).
In some ways, the work that I do at Better World Books suits me perfectly. I get to hold some of the gems that all of you send to us each day: a first edition Roll, Jordan, Roll; a second printing Bell Jar; an autographed, first edition Zane Grey. The list goes on. I wonder how much a signed, “first download” copy of J.K. Rowling’s latest is going for these days?
So, no, e-readers are not bad for companies like ours. In fact, perhaps they might even help us out. Recent chatter has suggested that Google’s book scanning project has increased demand for paper copies of books by a measurable amount. It would seem that folks have more access to and awareness of books that they would like to have: to hold, to read, to treasure. I’d say the same will likely come of the e-reader: how else can one feel the same sense of accomplishment other than by turning pages?
No, physical books will never be replaced. Libraries, bookstores, and living rooms; they will always be a place where humanity can go to explore the thoughts of others as well as their own.
When my friend and I finally reached the opera house, we were exhausted. Waiting for the overture, I thought aloud: “I suppose that we could have purchased a recording from iTunes or gone to one of The Met’s Hi-Def Broadcasts and saved ourselves the trip here.” As we heard Violetta’s opening lines, performed that night by Renee Fleming, that idea seemed to fade into the distance. It was definitely worth the trip.
(Above: Geraldine Farrar as Violetta in La Traviata.)
Have your say » | Tagged Antiquarian Ramblings, antiquarian, ARC, e-books, Rudy Reyes Jr.
Posted by admin on 09.14.2007 at 12:19 pm
Better World Books now has a dedicated Antiquarian, Rare, and Collectable Books (ARC) department at its Mishawaka, Indiana, Distribution Center.
Employing knowledgeable bibliographers who specialize in the identification of these unique items, including the research of provenance and publication details, the ARC team is prepared to deal with a wide-variety of books and other media which, in the past, were not saleable though traditional online channels. Dedicated cataloguers provide careful and detailed descriptions and establish competitive price points based upon the current antiquarian market.
Though much of the ARC inventory consists of items with out ISBNs, we are no longer limited to just these items, and are actively seeking, for example: institutional collection deacessions, including special, rare, faculty, or subject-specific collections; complete, current reference sets; as well as many items and media which may not immediately be ostensibly of valuable (please see the ARC FAQ’s for further details).
This is an exciting time for the ARC. We’ve just attended the Antiquarian Book Seminars in Colorado Springs. And, we’re in the process of relocating the ARC operation to a more secure, stable and protected environment within the warehouse. Future plans include the addition of a preservation specialist, additional auction and sales venues, the issue of a catalogue, and more.
Please let us know how the ARC section at BetterWorld.com can assist you in the development of your collection (ARC-at-betterworldbooks-dot-com). For more information, click here. We look forward to serving your antiquarian, rare, and collectable book needs.
Posted by admin on 08.20.2007 at 1:13 pm
Two members of Better World Books’ growing Antiquarian, Rare, and Collectable Department (ARC), Ryan van Plew-Cid and Rudy Reyes Jr., along with Dustin Holland, Director of the Library Division, recently attended the 29th Annual Antiquarian Book Seminars in Colorado Springs , Colorado , directed by Rob Rulon-Miller Jr., proprietor of Rulon-Miller Books and internationally acclaimed rare book dealer.
The Seminar, begun in 1978, featured experts from every aspect of the booktrade, from internet selling to accounting, from bookmaking and preservation to shipping, and from database management to bibliography and cataloguing. In addition to Rulon-Miller, the faculty included Prof. Terry Belanger, Honorary Curator of Special Collections and Director of the Rare Book School at the University of Virginia and Daniel De Simone, Curator of the Lessing Collection at the Library of Congress.
Highlights of the week included Old Books and New Technology: The View from Here, the keynote presentation by former labour under-secretary Marty Manley, Chairman and CEO of Alibris. Manley’s presentation focused the week around the promise of books in general for society and the place of booksellers in the social and economic landscape. Also, an interesting workshop on book preservation and conservation was led by Angela Scott of Fine Binding & Custom Design in the District of Columbia . Scott had numerous exempla of raw materials for book making and demonstrated the techniques for binding and covering books.
Future professional development opportunities for ARC include an upcoming visit to the University of Notre Dame Libraries ’ Special Collections Department, Rare Book Room, and Reyniers Preservation Facility.
For more information on Better World’s ARC Department, please contact us at ARC@BetterWorldBooks.com or see our ARC FAQs.
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