We spent Superbowl Sunday — where else? — at a book fair. Here are a few observations.
Paper books are not dead. Believe it. In fact, modern First Editions are worth quite a lot of cash. And by modern I mean books that came out in the last century. Who knew a F.E. Chuck Palahniuk book, like CHOKE, which came out just 11 years ago, could go for $400?
Hardbacks, and their covers, are art. Check out the original cover of SLAUGHTER-HOUSE FIVE — the arch is like the entrance to a holy vestibule. Or how about the yellow spotlight, both shining on and encapsulating the human figure, on DEATH OF A SALESMAN. Or how about the orange and green A and M on Auggie March.
A certain je ne sais quoi. Speaking of SLAUGHTER-HOUSE FIVE, I stood before one F.E. wherein Mr. Vonnegut had not only signed it but, around his signature, drew a caricature of himself. I almost totally lost my senses when I saw this. Thank god it was behind glass. I remember taking in a sharp breath of air. I looked away from the price. I had to get the heck out of there before I did something really stupid. Like write a check.
Never never clip the price. Of course I’ve done it, too, when giving a gift. But it’s kind of silly, right? I mean, don’t we all know how much books cost? Cutting the price out of a F.E. book greatly decreases it’s value. I saw so many folks spot a book and get excited about it’s pristine condition, only to sag in the shoulders when they saw the price had been lopped off.
Cocktail hour, all day long. There was a full bar. I guess it’s kind of like going to an auction: they figure if you get all liquored up, you’ll more easily whip out the credit card. I spotted said bar from a distance. I wasn’t about to go near there, knowing that Vonnegut book was in the house.
Window shopping can be fun. I hate to shop, hate it, but sashaying from booth to booth to check out what the sellers had, to see the creativity (or lack thereof) in their displays, to be surprised by an original Jane Austen or Mark Twain, could make you downright euphoric. Or catatonic. Depending.
The Unread. One thing I love about library books is their worn-out-ness, but of course a book is much more valuable if it looks like it’s never been read. While I understand this (well, duh) doesn’t it somehow seem counterintuitive? Who buys an expensive hardback book and never cracks it?
Harry Potter. It’s been well-documented I’m not a Harry Potter fan. I read about 50 pages of the first one and said ho-hum. This place was crawling with F.E.’s of HARRY POTTER. And they’re pricey. If you’re one of those folks who waited in line at midnight to buy the First Printings, hang on to them. And if they haven’t been read? All the better! But what are the chances of that? Unless you’re me.