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Every Island Fled Away by John SanfordWhile browsing through Ralph Sipper‘s booth at this past weekend’s Los Angeles Antiquarian Book Fair, I came upon an interesting copy of book that at first seemed a little out of place at the fair: John Sanford’s Every Island Fled Away. It’s a 1964 novel that, these days, is typically a $30 – $40 book in collectible condition, and not that much more when signed or inscribed. Usually the booths at the three fairs sponsored by the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America (there’s also a New York show in April and a Boston show in November) are full of the best antiquarian books for sale in the country and the world (read highest quality, and consequently highest priced). Dealers usually trot out their top material, and Ralph’s booth was full of many stunning copies of notable literary first editions. Some of them, like his beautiful copy of William Faulkner’s first novel, Soldiers’ Pay, are genuinely rare in such condition. By comparison, the John Sanford book seemed to be a grade schooler lost at the senior prom. Read the rest of this entry »

I love first appearances, especially literary-related ones. It’s likely a symptom of the brainwashing that occurred during my youth while collecting baseball cards and comic books. Both interests value rookie card/character debuts above all others, which is probably the reason I get so delighted when I find a first appearance by a writer or artist – particularly one that others have overlooked. Still, as I helped select items for our First Books & Before catalog, I was again reminded of the different collecting whims of bibliophiles, particularly when it comes to periodical first appearance.

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Dan GregoryI was recently asked by a reporter to comment on this question, and I offered some specific examples. As is often the case, my comments in the article, as well as an explanation of the examples, were very much cut for space (no hard feelings, I understand how these things go). But I thought I would provide the examples here, as well as a fuller answer to this question of how much rare books appreciate in value.

First, some examples. The exact SAME COPY of:

Author Title Old Price 2004 Price
Ernest Hemingway Three Stories and Ten Poems $6000 in 1977 $150,000
Jack Kerouac The Town and the City $2500 in 1978 $40,000
Mark Twain Life on the Mississippi $4800 in 1988 $19,000
Oscar Wilde Lady Windemere’s Fan $1700 in 1982 $32,500

But are these good examples? And what do these numbers really mean?

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We are presenting a month-long exhibition of rare Tennessee Williams books, typescripts and assorted memorabilia in honor of the playwright’s 100th birthday at The Bookshop in Old New Castle running March 1-31. Among the notable and rare items is an original script for Cat on a Hot Tin Roof which was used during the Philadelphia tryout of the play. The copy contains a sexually charged scene between Big Daddy and his daughter-in law that was removed before its run on Broadway. Also on display is one of only a handful of known copies of the original script for A Streetcar Named Desire bearing its original title, The Poker Night. This early version includes scandalous dialogue that was cut before production, implicating Stanley Kowalski’s wife, Stella, in the sexual assault of her sister, Blanche Du Bois.
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In honor of Halloween, we’ve created a list of Scary Books at our website. The list includes novels new and old, as well as the first appearance of a notable short story and even a movie poster. Any list such as this stirs up debate as to what is truly a classic and that often comes down to exactly what you consider scary. Maybe you’re a traditionalist who prefers monsters, ghosts, and otherworldly creatures to axe-wielding maniacs. Or you consider crime and thrillers as horrific as they come. And how does fantasy factor into your spine-tingling thinking? The definitions of what is truly scary abound, so tell us some of your favorites.

 

 

 

Today’s visitors to the English language homepage of Wikipedia will see a featured article on Ann Bannon, whose lesbian pulp novels of the late 1950s and early 1960s were unusual for their time in that they portrayed homosexual relationships in a positive light. Supposedly her first novel, Odd Girl Out, was the second best-selling paperback of 1957. Bannon’s works are now studied in literature classes and have been republished several times, most recently by the Cleis Press in their series of lesbian pulp fiction classics.

James Joyce - Between the Covers

James Joyce - Between the Covers

June 16, 1904 – the day of James Joyce’s first date with his future wife Nora Barnacle, and the day he later immortalized in his mammoth novel Ulysses, which follows its protagonist Leopold Bloom and others around Dublin on that day. Enjoy our gallery of images of rare editions of Joyce’s works on our Facebook page.

Here’s hoping you find your pot of gold this St. Patrick’s Day. With that in mind, we present a few Irish-related books for you to enjoy.

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Each morning upon arrival here at the wondrous world of Between the Covers I settle into my chair and I am often greeting by a surprising new item from antiquity left to me for further investigation by my delightful benefactor, Mr. Tom Congalton. Some mornings it’s an ancient, dust-covered tome, while on other days it’s a stack of yellowed correspondence in some nearly indecipherable hand. This morning it was a box – but not just any box. It was a box containing a book that I was told to catalog but not open. What was I to do?

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My post last week about paperback originals (PBO) elicited several interesting responses about why they are not generally as valuable and collected as hardcover firsts. I’m not completely swayed from my defense of paperbacks and the belief that they are undervalued and underappreciated, but I certainly better understand why collectors prefer hardcover edition. Still, the comments got me thinking.

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