Wednesday, March 30, 2022

The Love and Pursuit of Books Unites Us


It’s a pleasant thought, isn’t it?  That the free-ranging, capitalistic mind, linchpin of our economy, pauses for a moment and rises to a larger cause.  In this case, my book collection.  Booksellers and book collectors share a symbiotic relationship.  We are bound together with ecstatic moments and occasional torment, in the best of cases a fulfilling long-term union develops between us, in rare instances, an acrimonious separation.
            Most professional rare booksellers I’ve met tune in quickly to a serious collector’s interests.  I collect material about rare booksellers themselves, past and present, so this uncommon bypath usually is met with surprise and curiosity by those currently active in the trade.  It is not often a bookseller gets a request for their own material – previous catalogues, perhaps a bibliography written by them, an essay contributed to a journal, and so on.  I love this kind of stuff, and once we get through an awkward courtship period (“You really want my first catalogue, inscribed?”) they often become enthusiastic supporters of my collection.  And this is a good thing, for rare booksellers are always on the hunt.
            I’ve acquired many items through the kindness and thoughtfulness of the rare booksellers.  I don’t see enough of these two traits mentioned in print.  It’s not always a merchant mentality of buy low / sell high.  Placement of an item in the right home is a priority to many booksellers.  Two of my recent acquisitions are good examples.