Among the Gently Mad: Perspectives and Strategies for the Book-Hunter in the 21st Century

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Overview

A field guide for the modern book collector

From the author of A Gentle Madness-a book with more than seventy thousand copies in print that delighted bibliophiles everywhere-comes a twenty-first-century guide to book collecting that deals with both the traditional methods of acquisition and the electronic tools now available on the Internet.

Sharing the superb insight he has gathered from booksellers over the years, Nicholas Basbanes offers a ...

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Overview

A field guide for the modern book collector

From the author of A Gentle Madness-a book with more than seventy thousand copies in print that delighted bibliophiles everywhere-comes a twenty-first-century guide to book collecting that deals with both the traditional methods of acquisition and the electronic tools now available on the Internet.

Sharing the superb insight he has gathered from booksellers over the years, Nicholas Basbanes offers a refresher course on the fundamentals that endure, while questioning certain practices of doubtful validity. Topics include how to determine if a book is a first edition, how to spot book club editions, the importance of dust jackets, scouting the flea markets, how to work the book fairs, and the importance of handling the goods, as well as discussing less tangible issues like spotting trends and having a focus. Then he takes a long look at the pros and cons of Internet buying, illuminating how you can use these electronic tools to your advantage and making this the book no modern collector will want to be without.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Basbanes's guide to book collecting is a more practical, but no less impassioned, complement to his earlier history of bibliophilia, A Gentle Madness. He presents useful tips illustrated with charming anecdotes about the collecting habits of everyone from Winston Churchill to Umberto Eco. To Basbanes, book collecting isn't about making money, but "about gratifying a passion in a sensible way." He urges collectors to buy books that they know and develop specific areas of interest to avoid "buying blind-the most frequently committed transgression in book collecting." He insists that it is possible to acquire first-rate collections on modest budgets, and extols the virtues of select Internet sites. Particularly intriguing are Basbanes's descriptions of the most interesting collections he has encountered. Among these are the George Arents Collection at the New York Public Library, which consists of several hundred thousand objects in 20 languages on the history, literature and lore of tobacco, as well as the Jay Miller Aviation History Collection at the Central Arkansas Library, consisting of 6,000 books on flight history and 50,000 aviation journals, along with hundreds of aircraft operation manuals. Basbanes also offers some startling figures. A first issue copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, for example, recently went for $15,000. Though targeted primarily at prospective collectors, this lively book will appeal to any book lover, as Basbanes's enthusiasm is infectious. (Nov. 12)
Kirkus Reviews
As the subtitle suggests, a book for a narrow and often eccentric audience, with few more eccentric than the author himself.

In A Gentle Madness (1995) and Patience and Fortitude (2001), critic Basbanes chronicled the history of book-collecting and profiled a number of his peers: collectors like Umberto Eco, who owns around 30,000 volumes. Here, he delivers a how-to guide for the aspiring bibliophile. A writer whose prose would make the most exacting schoolmaster proud, Basbanes thoroughly explores all aspects of his obscure hobby: how you might peruse bins at book shows, which works of reference to purchase, how books should be cared for, how and why you should seek out a mentor bibliophile. Along the way he offers a sort of autobiography of his bibliomania, which takes him across New England and the rest of the country searching for old books. When the author describes his trips around Cape Cod, buying books and eating fried clams, it’s easy to wonder who is being converted here, or at the very least who is the intended audience. But there is something contagious about this harmless, erudite lifestyle. Of paramount important to Basbanes, it seems, is taste. In his opinion, for instance, you shouldn’t seek books just because they are old or expensive. You should grow interested in books of one sort, those that deal with certain writers or the history of science, say, and move on from there, discovering one day that you are, by design or not, among the "gently mad," as the writer dubs book collectors.

For those literati who want a window into a strange little world, read on. All others should take a pass.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780805051599
  • Publisher: Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 11/28/2002
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 5.68 (w) x 8.62 (h) x 1.03 (d)

Meet the Author

Nicholas Basbanes is the author of A Gentle Madness (0-8050-6176-2) and Patience & Fortitude. He lives in North Grafton, Massachusetts.

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Table of Contents

Ch. 1 First Principles 1
Ch. 2 A Little Help from Your Friends 15
Ch. 3 Going with the Flow 49
Ch. 4 Three Little Words 71
Ch. 5 Spinning a Yarn 93
Ch. 6 The Beat Goes On 111
Ch. 7 Earning Your Mettle 137
Ch. 8 Booking the World 159
Ch. 9 Strutting Your Stuff 179
Ch. 10 02-02-02: A Day at the Fair 199
App Some Thoughts on Value 219
Selected Bibliography 225
Index 237
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 8, 2002

    A Wonderful Guide for both the Experienced and the Novice Book Collector

    If you are new to the book collecting game, or even if you are an experienced scout, you will find plenty of good information in Basbanes' new book. One aspect of this work that I appreciate (as a used & rare bookseller working in an open shop) is the equal importance that Basbanes places on "booking the heartland" and on utilizing internet resources, whereas a common opinion in recent years is to use the internet only. All in all, this is a very useful guide, with tips on book scouting, determining first editions, and many other aspects of book collecting that one has to learn in order to be successful. In my opinion, Basbanes has become one of the most eloquent and enjoyable authors of Books About Books.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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