The Unbearable Banishment: feeding my addiction

Saturday, January 17, 2009

feeding my addiction

I attended the semi-annual rare bookfair at the Lexington Avenue armory. God, what a glorious afternoon. Think of the one material thing you love the most in life. Now, imagine an armory chocked full of the very best of that one special thing.

It's like going to the literature museum except you can buy stuff. I had expected to see some depressed prices. The economy is flat on its ass and I expected the prices for rare books to be adjusted downward accordingly but they were not. Stuff was still pretty pricey. Here’s a small sampling of the best of the best.

1. Ernest Hemingway's To Have and Have Not. First edition. $3,000.

2. Ernest Hemingway's In Our Time. The true first edition of his first book, published in Paris in 1924. Only 170 copies were printed. $28,750.

3. Ernest Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms. The only signed limited edition Hemingway published. One of 510 copies in its original slipcase. $15,000.

1. J.D. Salinger's Nine Stories. First Edition. Signed. $6,500.

2. J. D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye. First Edition. One of the all-time classic dust jacket designs. And a pretty good read, too. $6,500.

3. Ernest Hemingway's Men Without Women. First UK edition. The U.S. first edition would be considerably more expensive. Collectors prefer the first edition published in the author’s country of birth. Graham Greene UK first editions are more expensive than the U.S. counterparts. It’s called “following the flag.” $2,750.

Recession? What recession? Not all books are priced so astronomically. You can easily find books for just a few hundred bucks. I didn’t buy anything. Nothing jumped off the shelf and into my arms, which sometimes happens at these bookfairs. The spring Park Avenue bookfair is the granddaddy of bookfairs. Book collectors from all over the world attend. This one is merely a warm-up. There are worse addictions. Don’t you agree?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I prefer Hemingway's short stories to his novels. A Farewell to Arms is the most overrated book I've ever tried to read.

Did the earth move for you?!?!? Oh pleeze.....

January 18, 2009 at 6:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

yes, there are worse things... beyond the obvious "hookers and meth". my worst addictions are probably travel and gentlemen friends... trying to collect the whole set of the latter would be downright exhausting... i keep it reasonable, but still. not a good habit.

books? they last...

January 18, 2009 at 9:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stop thinking of it as an addition and think of it as an least the values of books do not crash. Also don't forget all the great discussions you have had because of them.

January 18, 2009 at 12:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd've been really tempted to buy one of those as the price can only go up. I'd have also liked to have bought it about a year ago before the pound took a bitchslapping.

January 18, 2009 at 8:31 PM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Nurse: An astute observation! He is the grand master of the short story.

Daisy: I tried to collect girls once. I did okay for a while but overall it was an unsuccessful venture. I’ve done MUCH better with literature.

MT: I don’t look at my books as an investment. The rule is to collect what you like because you might be stuck with them.

F: These books are so far out of my range of affordability that there’s no temptation whatsoever.

January 18, 2009 at 10:17 PM  
Blogger Sid said...

$15 000? For a book? God that's more than I earn in a month. That's way more than I earn in a month.

January 19, 2009 at 12:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love searching for rare books. It took me years to find an original copy of Auntie Mame.

January 19, 2009 at 11:57 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Sid: Actually, that's more than I earn in three months! Ack!

Pop: If you ever find yourself on the hunt for a rare tome, drop me a line. I can point you in the right direction.

January 19, 2009 at 1:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Want, want, want, et cetera.

January 19, 2009 at 3:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You should have pulled the trigger on that signed 9 Stories. Way more scarce than Catcher, and it was signed?! Offer 6 in 3 easy pays of 2K -- whether or not you have a job.

January 27, 2009 at 1:00 PM  

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