Here is a link to a recent article on book collecting in The Guardian that I thought might interest you.
Ah Rick, there still can be a Santa Claus. You just have to seek him out. Find the unbeaten paths. Take your love of an idea and carry it out to the end. You will find an unending variety of books out there waiting to be made into a cohesive collection including some very scarce but not very valuable books – because you have not yet made them valuable!
- Bob Fleck
Dr. Rosenbach and Mr. Lilly: Book Collecting in a Golden Age by Joel Silver was recently reviewed by Pradeep Sebastian in The Hindu Literary Review. Providing a brief summary of the book, Sebastian also explains why this book is thrilling for any bibliophile to read.
I think the enjoyment comes from the minutiae of book transactions that Silver knowledgably and engagingly describes in evocative prose: first reading about an individual copy in a catalogue or a bookseller’s description, the suspended-waiting while you decide, and then the rush from deciding you definitely want it no matter the cost, making the purchase, and finally getting the book in the mail or having the book dealer hand it to you.
The ritual is repeated with each new buy and the bibliographical pleasure derived is not from just the buyer-collector’s emotion but the emotion of the bookseller who acquires the hard-to-acquire copy, describes the book, prices it and then offers it to an individual collector who he knows might want it. Seldom have rare book transactions been written about with as much literary flair, controlled style, storyteller’s skill and scholarly passion.
Check out this great article on AbeBooks titled Shelf Help: The Best Guides to Book Collecting. The article mentions ABC for Book Collectors as the single indispensible book for the beginner collector. At the bottom of the article is a great video review of the book explaining more of how ABC for Book Collectors is a great resource for both beginner and veteran collectors.
ABC for Book Collectors is also on sale in our new 2011 Oak Knoll Press Sale Catalogue.
Paul got down to work in earnest, and 1991 saw six new Oak Knoll Press publications, including our first joint venture with The British Library (The Doves Bindery by Marianne Tidcombe, #29 in the bibliography). David Way, the Publications Director at The British Library, was a friend of Robert Cross, the owner of St. Paul’s Bibliographies, and quickly became a friend of mine. To this day, we still co-publish many of our titles with The British Library. For about half of these joint publications, David’s staff sees the book through the press, and we buy part of the print run and the North American sales territory (and the opposite for the other half). This way, we can do twice as many books with the small staff that we each have, which is a very efficient way of doing business! David has access to one of the finest image collections in the world with The British Library at his command and also has many excellent readers for the manuscripts that are submitted.
Another special project that year was the re-issue of Percy Muir’s Minding My Own Business (Bib. #32) with a new foreword by Barbara Kaye Muir, Percy’s widow. This wonderful bookselling memoir is one of the best glimpses at bookselling in England during the twentieth century and should be required reading for anyone aspiring to be a bookseller. I traveled to the little village of Blakeney on the west coast of England to meet Barbara (on the smallest train I have ever seen outside an amusement park). She was an author in her own right with many books to her credit, including two more memoirs devoted to bookselling that we published. She hosted a charming lunch full of book talk and good wine, and poured me back on the train for its short ride to Ipswich on the way back to London.
The next landmark in Oak Knoll Press’s history was in 1992 when we finally got the rights to John Carter’s ABC for Book Collectors. This book had been substantially revised by Nicolas Barker, who had managed to keep Carter’s humor while revising and adding new terms. It had grown considerably from its 1952 first edition. If you only have one book about books in your library, this is the one I continue to recommend. I lusted after having this book as part of our publishing program but the rights situation was very complicated. Carter had willed his estate to Eton College with Nicolas Barker as Executor. Somehow, we had to get Eton College to see the need for a new publisher and a new edition. Nicolas used his intimate knowledge of all involved to get the rights back from Harper Collins and Knopf (previous publishers) and award them to Oak Knoll. We reprinted the sixth edition, and it became a best seller for us with a seventh edition appearing in 1995 (co-published with Werner Shaw) and an eighth edition in 2004 (co-published with The British Library), each going through multiple reprints (all carefully documented on the copyright page).
Check back next week for more from Books about Books!
Many people have asked me over the years how Oak Knoll Books got its name. A recent interview by Nigel Beale drew the story out of me along with a number of other anecdotes that might interest you.
As a young Chemical Engineer with my first paycheck in my pocket, I was finally able to start collecting books in earnest. I found the books of A. Edward Newton fascinating as they told of a book world that I knew little about. Newton described his collecting with such enthusiasm that I got caught up and eventually quit my job to begin Oak Knoll Books. Newton’s home outside Philadelphia was called Oak Knoll. Ah, you are starting to get the connection! Listen to the interview for more of the story.
- Bob Fleck, President