Posted by R. Shaff on 1/1/2002
What an uncommonly wonderful book! For bibliophiles or those that enjoy reading about a passionate quest, USED AND RARE is a delight.
This is a factual "novel" written by Larry and Nancy Goldstone relating their journey into the world of used and rare books. This is a story that began as a quest for a budget-based, inexpensive gift which ultimately turned to an exciting addiction. The inexpensive beginning was the search and purchase of a [amt] copy of Tolstoy's WAR AND PEACE, a complete translation which included maps and fold-out color illustrations. When it arrived in the mailed, the book included a business card from the bookseller which subsequently prompted the Goldstones to make their way to the bookstore on a lazy Sunday afternoon. There, they met David and Esther Kininmonth, the owners of the store. David enthralled the Goldstones with a oratory into the basics of the world of rare books, their value, illusion and mystery. It was with this visit and conversation that the Goldstone's were vaulted into a path that soon became a passionate obsession.
Now intrigued and beset with an insatiable desire for new "quarry," the Goldstones began making as many trips as possible to various East Coast cities visting antiquarian book dealers and attending book fairs and auctions. Armed with a growing knowledge of this rather obscure industry, they diligently sought out first editions, single leather-bound volumes and sets, and rare out-of-print books. Along the way, they became as fascinated with the learning process associated with procuring rare books as much as by the books themselves. After spending quite a bit of time buying, reading and picking the brains of the experts, the Goldstones began to see through many of the games played by the dealers including pricing inconsistencies, show tactics and auction fax paus'.
Although extremely frugal and budget-conscious, USED AND RARE tells the story of how the Goldstones began with that [amt] copy of WAR AND PEACE to owning a [amt] edition of Charles Dickens's MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT. In one passage, the Goldstones relate their visit to a book fair where they encounter a first edition of TARZAN, by Edgar Rice Burroughs for an astounding [amt]! They wonder how TARZAN can demand that kind of sum when, by their own standards, it is not necessarily considered great literature? As with most businesses, the Goldstones learn that the business of rare books is a BUSINESS. As such, demand drives prices and, as with antiques and collectibles, value is relative to the individual collector.
The fervor behind this story and the common penchant for booklore displayed by the Goldstones' is contagious. This story provides an education to the reader and a behind-the-scenes view of many unheard-of books (at least to this reader) considered classic and collectible. Their story offers biblophiles/biblomaniacs an insight into the world of rare books and a lesson in the business of books. It is easy to see that they earned their way into the world of rare books while being gracious enough to share it with the reader. USED AND RARE is a strange combination of education, love, travel and the chase for the perfect buy....at the right price of course!
I am immediately following this read with the sequel, SLIGHTLY CHIPPED, and have already ordered the third book in the series, WARMLY INSCRIBED. Anyone hooked on books should read USED AND RARE.