Sunday, December 14, 2014

New York Times: The Best Book Covers of 2014

Area X by Jeff Vandermeer
The New York Times published their annual collection of the Best Book Covers of 2014. I was happy to see Rodrigo Corral was mentioned again this year - he happens to be one of my favorite dust jacket designers these days, and has been for quite a while. This year his chosen design was “Area X — The Southern Reach Trilogy — Annihilation, Authority, and Acceptance” by Jeff Vandermeer. 
Rodrigo Corral's selection of Palahniuk covers
 He caught my attention quite a few years ago with Chuck Palahniuk's title from WW Norton, 'Survivor'. Once Palahniuk switched from Norton over to Doubleday, the titles (and covers) kept coming. I think one of Corral's most interesting covers in recent memory is Palahniuk's new novel 'Beautiful You' which just came out in October, 2014. However you may recognize some of Rodrigo Corral's more noticable work with Junot Diaz's 'The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao' and Oprah's pick of James Frey's 'A Million Little Pieces'. 

'Why does this all matter?' you may ask. It matters because in our ever-busier world of shopping, scrolling down the aisles like our facebook feed, only stopping on something for a brief instance that really catches our attention - and only stopping to actually read something that stops us in our tracks. Book covers can tie us back to the memory of our eyes walking down the shelf of our neighborhood bookstore, catching that first glimpse of a striking book cover. Most of the times the book covers tie-in to the story (much like F. Scott Fitzgerald's iconic dust jacket for 'The Great Gatsby') and at the end of the story, bring your memory back to the first time you laid eyes on it. 

Find all the 2014 Best Book Covers here

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Recent finds: First printing of Julia Ward Howe's 'Battle Hymn of the Republic' (Civil War / Americana)

A recent find was Volume 9, January - June 1862 of Atlantic Monthly Magazine which features Julia Ward Howe's first printing of 'Battle Hymn of the Republic'. Published in the February issue, Howe was inspired to write Battle Hymn after she and her husband visited Washington, D. C., and met President Lincoln at the White House in November 1861. During the trip, her friend James Freeman Clarke suggested she write new words to the song "John Brown's Body", which she did on November 19. The song was set to William Steffe's already-existing music. It quickly became one of the most popular songs of the Union during the American Civil War.

This volume also contains the first printing of Henry David Thoreau's essay, 'Walking', first published in the June 1862 issue.  One of the first previously unpublished essays that were published upon Thoreau's death in May, 1862, 'Walking' is one of his most famous essays - which celebrated the virtues of immersing oneself in nature and lamented the inevitable encroachment of private ownership upon the wilderness. (D49 of Raymond Borst 'Henry David Thoreau - A Descriptive Bibliography', First Appearance Contributions to Magazines and Newspapers)

Sunday, December 1, 2013

1934 Tender is the Night - F. Scott Fitzgerald - custom rebound serialized Scribner's Magazine

Recently custom rebound by Campbell Logan Bindery in Minneapolis, MN, is the first printing of F. Scott Fitzgerald's 'Tender is the Night'.

This custom bound 6-month volume contains the first publishing of Fitzgerald's Tender is the Night. The novel was serialized in four parts by Scribner's Magazine within January - April, 1934 and later published in book form in April of that year. His fourth and final completed novel, Tender was Fitzgerald's darkest, and most auto-biographical - paralleling his life with Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald.  Illustrations by Edward Shenton. Serialized magazine publications - such as this one - are generally thought of as 'true first editions' because they are printed and released before the final first book edition is available. Overall, binding in fine condition - professionally rebound in November, 2013, utilizing the finest materials by skilled practitioners.  

 "Tender is the Night remains Fitzgerald's most brilliant book. All his powers, the microscopic observation of the life he describes, the sense of the significance and relations of every detail of it, the infallible ear, and the gift of expression, all these things are here in greater abundance than ever before. Its scope is such as to make The Great Gatsby seem small and simple, for all its neatness and perfection, and its dramatic realization so complete that Fitzgerald need not ever say what is happening: we always see." -Arthur Mizener

New York: Scribner's Magazine.  Bound 6-month volume containing January - June, 1934 (Volume 95). Grey-blue linen cloth binding with a dark blue coated spine with silver gilt title, and decorative blue & yellow kozo hand-made paper endpapers. Kozo endpapers are meant to remind the reader of the original 'Mediterranean' feel of the original dust jacket artwork (original dust jacket picture included). Original covers and advertisements are not present.

This book is available for purchase from Northwest Press Books: Item #000536

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

$14.2 million Bay Psalm Book auctioned!

Sotheby's in New York held an auction for what turned out to be the world's most valuable (sold) book - $14.16 million paid for one of 11 surviving copies of the rare Bay Psalm Book, which happens to be a piece of Americana gold. It's claim to fame is its history - the first book ever written and printed in what is now the United States. 

FULL TITLE: "The Whole Booke of Psalmes Faithfully Translated into English Metre. Whereunto is prefixed a discourse declaring not only the lawfullnes, but also the necessity of the heavenly Ordinance of singing Scripture Psalmes in the Churches of God. [epigraphs from Colossians and James]. Imprinted: [at Cambridge, Massachusetts, by Stephen Day,] 1640 "

Congregationalist Puritans, who settled around Massachusetts Bay in search of religious freedom, wanted to translate and produce a version of the Book of Psalms closer to the Hebrew original than the one they had brought over from England. To distance themselves from the Church of England (one of the first demonstrations of 'religious freedom'), they published their own version: The Bay Psalm Book. 

The book auctioned Tuesday is from the collection of the Old South Church in Boston, Massachusetts, which had it for more than 300 years. It is one of two copies in their possession, with the sale intended to support its mission and ministry in Boston.

Philanthropist David Rubenstein purchased one of 11 surviving copies. Currently, the other 9 surviving versions of the 1,700 originally printed are in institutional collections, including Harvard, Yale, Oxford, the New York Public Library and the Huntington Library in California.

The first edition of the Bay Psalm Book was printed in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Tuesday's sale is the first time since 1947 and the second time since 1894 that a copy has appeared at auction. In 1947, it achieved a higher price than any other book printed at the time, when Sotheby's sold it for $151,000.

"This little book of 1640 was a precursor to Lexington and Concord, and, ultimately, to American political independence," Redden said. "With it, New England declared its independence from the Church of England."
Even with not quite making its estimate of $15 million - $30 million, Tuesday's sale eclipses the previous auction record for a printed book, at Sotheby's London, when a copy of John James Audubon's Birds of America sold for $11.5 million in 2010.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Abebooks top seller for August: signed Ernest Hemingway photograph

 August 2013 Most Expensive Sales on AbeBooks

Another month gone and it’s another rare Ernest Hemingway item on the list of expensive sales. The fifth most-expensive sale on Abebooks in August, 2013 was a photograph of Hemingway, signed by the author in 1937, the year in which he left for Spain to cover the Spanish Civil War, sold for $8,250 last month. The bookseller was a fellow in Boston, Massachusetts. It's a particularly eye-catching Key West image of the author sitting on a boat, barefooted and relaxed.

Hemingway contracted with NANA (North American Newspaper Alliance) to write dispatches for the Spanish Civil War. He was in Spain off and on in 1937 - 1938, reporting and writing from his base at the Hotel Florida in Madrid. From there, he writes and researches for his NANA dispatches, his Ken Magazine articles, and FACT #16 Monograph, titled 'The Spanish War'. It is at this time he researches for is future novel, For Whom the Bell Tolls.

To find other interesting and collectible Ernest Hemingway items, check out Northwest Press Books.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Recent finds: Signed 1st Robert Frost with poem inscription - 1930 'Collected Poems'

A recent purchase is a signed & inscribed Robert Frost title, 'Collected Poems of Robert Frost', Henry Holt, 1930 1st trade edition (Crane A14.1). Frost has inscribed it with a bit of his (modified) famous lines from 'Two Tramps in Mud Time':
Only where love and need are one/
And the work play for mortal stakes
(signed) Robert Frost

An example of a nice association copy, the previous owner's name R. D. Emerson, who lived nearby Frost on Fayerweather Street in Cambridge, MA. A postcard is included and laid-in with this address postmarked Oct 7th announcing a Robert Frost reading and lecture on Oct 12th, 1935 for Wheaton College's celebration of Founders' Day.

Frost was awarded the 1931 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry for this book. 

More information on this and other collectible Robert Frost titles may be found at my bookstore, Northwest Press Books.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

New Junot Diaz fiction! Author reading!

I was fortunate to open up my schedule and attend Minnesota Public Radio's TALKING VOLUMES author event on Sept 18th for Junot Diaz's new book of short stories, 'This Is How You Lose Her'. It was a great time, especially with the book signing and meet/greet, but the discussion was worth the effort to attend. Diaz was asked to clarify his statement that he was a reader first and foremost, and a writer second. I wish I could even begin to paraphrase, but won't do it justice. Writers need to be readers, and reading current authors. Listen to the interview here.

Haven't had time to read the new stories, but if it is anything like what I found in 'Drown', then I won't be disappointed. I also brought some copies of his first published short story, found in Fall 1995 Story Magazine. He was suprised to see it, and said something like 'oh - I don't see many of these anymore!'. I guess I should have brought more of my on-hand copies...