"First Editions Everywhere"
May 10, 2022 8:52 PM   Subscribe

 
As much as I enjoyed the surprise celebrity cameo, I wish the article had focused more on people who had no background as children of means, bookstore owners and/or rock stars. When I used to hang around bookshops more, the employees with the most interesting points of view tended to be people who’d had to construct their own interests as children with limited outside help. That wasn’t always tied to wealth, but when you do come from a financially comfortable place, there are so many on-ramps to the straight and narrow highways, that it’s hard to find the paths that wind their way through the weeds and back alleys.

Actually, come to think of it, that’s exactly how the surprise cameo celebrity got to be themselves.
posted by Kattullus at 11:37 PM on May 10 [6 favorites]


unpaywalled
posted by chavenet at 1:17 AM on May 11 [6 favorites]


When I used to hang around bookshops more, the employees with the most interesting points of view tended to be people who’d had to construct their own interests as children with limited outside help. That wasn’t always tied to wealth, but when you do come from a financially comfortable place, there are so many on-ramps to the straight and narrow highways, that it’s hard to find the paths that wind their way through the weeds and back alleys.

I love how perfectly you have captured the insight and essence of one of William Blake's 'Proverbs of Hell' from The Marriage of Heaven and Hell published more than 200 years ago, Kattullus — completely independently, I would guess (poetic minds and all that):
Improvement makes straight roads, but the crooked roads without Improvement are roads of Genius.
posted by jamjam at 3:00 AM on May 11 [10 favorites]


hang around bookshops more

This was online "hanging", but I found a bookseller who specialized in first edition Dickens, and he had a miscellaneous offering listed only as "very old music book". It turned out to be the first edition in english of Fuch's Gradus Ad Parnassum, introducing the concept of a bassline in music. Hand pulled etchings for every page, got it for $100.
posted by StickyCarpet at 7:48 AM on May 11 [5 favorites]


Anyone in Vancouver, Canada, should visit EC Rare Books, run by Richard Smart, an antiquarian dealer and a third generation bookbinder. He has a lovely collection, he's happy to discuss any of it, and his bindery is right there so you can see leather being pared and animal glue hot in the pot, and on a Sunday, his apprentice (me) whining about how it's all so disorganized and there's no room for me to glue clamshell boxes together.
posted by fatbird at 3:26 PM on May 11 [3 favorites]


I really enjoyed this post, thank you so very much! (and much thanks to you, chavenet, for the non paywalled link)

I puchased my first vintage book at a yard sale for $1 - "David Copperfield", late 1800s edition. I have all types of antique books in my house (there are 300 in my living room alone, give or take a few). I wish I had known that delving in rare books could have been a career option in life! It's very reassuring, knowing there are young people still interested in rare and used books.
posted by annieb at 4:18 PM on May 12 [2 favorites]


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