It’s beginning to look as if the great e-book debate is shaping up along demographics – the younger generation is driving towards a world equipped with Kindles, while physical books and private libraries are for people with more to spend. Does this imply that at some point in the future sales of e-books will surpass those of printed books? And once that happens will the fewer printed books be collected as if they are limited edition prints? Only time will tell, but my hope is that people will still prefer to do their reading holding a codex rather than a device so that the primary use of books will not turn into that of objects locked up behind glass windows to be exhibited untouched.
Any upward trend in appreciation of the printed book as an artifact that is aesthetically pleasing is bound to favor the genre of Books on Books, or books written about book collecting and the book in general. While not currently tracked by our Rare Book Sales Monitor (RBSM) category breakdown, the coverage of strictly bibliophilic matters is set to benefit from additional interest for the actual object – the physical book. At any rate, this seems to be an auspicious time, especially for younger bibliophiles, to be on the lookout for good, collectible books covering stories on books and the practice of book collecting. Our crystal ball led us to the following collectible Books on Books:
1. The Amenities of Book Collecting. A.Edward Newton. Boston : Atlantic Monthly Press, 1918
This was the first book in a series of books written by Newton on book collecting, and remains a classic book the field. Newton was a distinguished book collector. He famously owned the only copy of the First Edition of Dickens’ “Mystery of Edwin Drood” with a dust jacket, believed to be the first book issued in a dust jacket.
It is considered to be the best book of the 20th century on book selling, concerning the most famous book dealer who helped build some of the greatest book collections, many of which are now in well known libraries.
This is the classic book about Fourth Row by Marvin Mondlin of the legendary Strand bookstore in New York City. It is an illustrated memoir that features historical photographs, richly anecdotal names and places that all lovers, readers, buyers, sellers, and collectors of books from the 1890s to the 1960s will never forget.
When Miss Hanff wrote to Marks & Company on October 5, 1949, she began a correspondence that endured twenty years of amusement, charm and a feisty love affair with the bookshop. 84 Charing Cross Road is its record.
The highly praised volume on book collecting and book collectors by Basbanes, the preeminent writer on matters of book collecting in the U.S., and one of the country’s premier collectors of modern firsts.
While speculations on the future of the book will continue to attract the attention of bibliophiles, publishers and authors, as well as those looking to reshape it, the story of the book lives on. Books on Books have captured those stories that will still remain even when the day arrives that electronic accessibility dominates the distribution of the written world to the point that the genre name is changed from Books on Books, to e-Books on Books. It is also possible that the easy access to the book’s content provided by the codex format without the need of an electronic device, may be just the right invention to withstand replacement since the day that it replaced the scroll.