A Pound of Paper: Confessions of a Book Addict

A Pound of Paper: Confessions of a Book Addict

by John Baxter

Paperback(First Edition)

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In the rural Australia of the fifties where John Baxter grew up, reading books was disregarded with suspicion, owning and collecting them with utter incomprehension. Despite this, by the age of eleven Baxter had 'collected' his first book - The Poems of Rupert Brooke. He'd read the volume often, but now he had to own it. This was the beginning of what would become a major collection and a lifelong obsession.

His book-hunting would take him all over the world, but his first real find was in London in 1978, when he spotted a rare copy of a Graham Greene children's book while browsing on a stall in Swiss Cottage. It was going for 5 pence. This would also, fortuitously, be the day when he first encountered one of the legends of the book-selling world: Martin Stone. At various times pothead, international fugitive from justice, and professional rock musician, he would become John's mentor and friend.

In this brilliantly readable and funny book, John Baxter brings us into contact with such literary greats as Graham Greene, Kingsley Amis, J.G. Ballard and Ray Bradbury. But he also shows us how he penetrated the secret fraternity of 'runners' or book scouts - sleuths who use bluff and guile to hunt down their quarry - and joined them in scouring junk shops, markets, auction rooms and private homes for rarities.

In the comic tradition of Clive James's Unreliable Memoirs, A Pound of Paper describes how a boy from the bush came to be living in a Paris penthouse with a library worth millions. It also explores the exploding market in first editions. What treasures are lying unnoticed in your garage?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780312317263
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 04/01/2005
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 432
Sales rank: 796,438
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.96(d)

About the Author

John Baxter is a novelist and broadcaster as well as being a hugely acclaimed film critic and film biographer. His subjects have included Woody Allen, Steven Spielberg, Stanley Kubrick and Robert De Niro.

Table of Contents

Part 1
1Collecting Graham3
2Left-handed Guns17
3The Rules of the Game41
4Surly Bonds58
5Star Begotten72
6The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Reader83
7Haunted Screens102
Postscript to Part One133
Part 2
8The Old Country141
9A Regional Collection163
10With the Rich and Mighty ...191
11The End of the Affair219
12Bookshop Dreams245
13Without Whom ...269
14There and Back Again293
15Guaranteed Anatomically Correct315
16Shakespeare and Company, and Company343
Appendix ILists: Cyril Connolly's The Modern Movement369
Haycraft/Queen Cornerstones, 1748-1948373
Queen's Quorum379
The Booker Prize384
Anthony Burgess's Ninety-nine Novels385
Appendix II'If Your House was on Fire ...' An Informal Poll389
Appendix IIIeBay Gems412

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A Pound of Paper: Confessions of a Book Addict 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
dono421846 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
As the book progresses the account veers too deeply into a recitation of his meetings with people, and less about the books -- after he sells his Graham Greene collection, it is basically downhill -- but it is well written and engaging nonetheless.
LouCypher on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this well written book on the life of John Baxter and his friends. Not knowing much about Baxter, I picked this up as I enjoy books about books, and I was very happy with my selection. Although I would have liked a little more about books, the grand scope of his long and adventuress life made for a solid read.
jburlinson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Very genial fellow, John Baxter. He likes to collect Graham Greene, science fiction and other types of books, without explaining any particular reason for his affinities. Probably best appreciated as a series of anecdotes, lined up helter skelter on the shelf.
J.v.d.A. on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Very well written and evocative account of one mans lifelong obsession with books & the secondhand book trade; full of hilarious ancedotes and characters. A great little book.
herschelian on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Sub-titled 'Confessions of a book addict' John Baxter tells how he started collecting books in the first place, and then with his first 'big' find, how his collection grew, how he learned how to hunt down rarities, the huge growth in the market for first editions and in the process how he made a fortune. Its enough to make a reader scurry round their own shelves to check whether any unrecognised rarities are lurking there
cybergal17 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Not what I expected. A memoir of an Australian and his life with books, TV writing, etc. Not really abook about books nor about bookselling.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I couldn't even get past 20 pages. Unless you are obsessed with Graham Greene, some author I am assuming, skip over this book. The author's writing style is dry and boring.
Guest More than 1 year ago
By Bill Marsano. The very first thing you should know is that this is a book about collecting, not just book collecting. Collecting--the determined search for specific objects on a given theme--is pretty much the same kind of mania for all collectors, whether they're after vintage cars, rare stamps and coins or--as in this case--books, and whether the treasure they seeks are top dollar or bottom. Every kind of collecting develops its own little cultures and subcultures, its side streets and back alleys, its characters loved or hated or legendary. And, of course, its litany of heart-lifting successes and heart-breaking failures. So if you collect (as distinct from accumulate) or if you know a collector, this book is a definite buy. John Baxter's collecting, which began with science fiction, made him into a short-story writer then a scriptwriter then a novelist and a teacher. He begins his trek in a desolate tank town in Australia, where things start slowly, but he soon moves on--and ups the pace and tension--to London, the U.S. (East Coast and West) and finally Paris. The whole journey runs along like a thrill ride as you join Baxter in a series of adventures and misadventures with his assortment of bookstruck ne-er-do-wells and genial lowlifes. He and his characters are not, be the way, the least bit stuffy about book collecting. The title of this book comes from Baxter's definition of what, in the end, a book is: a pound of paper. There are only pluses to this book. Plenty of amusing incidents and anecdotes, lots of inside information about book collecting (appplicable to collecting in general) and to top it all off, superb writing. Baxter writes vivid, imaginative, entertaining prose. He is a delight to read.--Bill Marsano is an award-winning travel writer, an editor and a desultory book collector.