Rare Book Monthly

Articles - May - 2017 Issue

Sex, Androids and Quilts: It's Time for Bookfinder's Most Highly Sought After Out-of-Print Books

921777f0-c4bb-4204-877e-ea2c94e6fe32

Bookfinder.com has published its list of the most sought after titles from 2016. It's an eclectic bunch. Bookfinder is a meta-search engine, that is, it searches multiple book listing sites, rather than being a listing site itself. That means it is likely to be a favorite when searching for something unusually obscure and hard to find. A common old book, or an old book with recent reprints, is easy to locate. Highly valuable old books, such as an early Shakespeare, are not likely to be purchased from listing sites. That makes the Bookfinder list unusual – they are not the rare and highly collectible, but the rare and obscure, often fitting a niche interest. It is a curious and fascinating list.

 

Some of the books on this list appear year after year. They combine lasting niche appeal with rarity. Others quickly disappear. Being reprinted is the kiss of death for being on this list. For others, it is a great, but temporary appeal, spurred on by some event, such as the release of a related movie. Not on the 2016 list, but almost sure to be on 2017 based on "massive interest" so far, is George Michael's 1991 autobiography Bare. English pop singer Michael died on Christmas day of 2016. My guess is by 2018, interest in his book will have waned.

 

Before we get to the Top 10, here are a few more titles that made it into the Top 30. #29 is Women and Men by Joseph McElroy. I haven't read it, but Bookfinder provides a description for the uninitiated: "A big 1,192-page novel that is challenging to read. The plot...is about families (we think)..." Didn't someone else already write War and Peace?

 

#24. Lost Moon: The Perilous Voyage of Apollo 13, by James Lovell. If you've forgotten who James Lovell is, all you need is five words to instantly recognize him – "Houston, we've got a problem."

 

#18. Promise Me Tomorrow, by Nora Roberts. An early effort by the prolific romance writer even she thinks is so bad she has never let it be reprinted. Hence the scarcity and demand. This one has been on the list for years, but it's position is finally slipping.

 

#13. Sled Driver: Flying the World's Fastest Machine, by Brian Schul. Schul flew 212 combat missions over Vietnam, was shot down, badly burned, and expected to die, but he recovered, returned to flight status, and retired a major. A major, and Flynn retired a general? Someone needs to investigate that!

 

#11. Rage, by Richard Bachman. There is no Richard Bachman. Bachman is Stephen King, and King, like Roberts, won't allow this book to be published again. Another perennial favorite.

 

And that takes us to the Top 10.

 

10. Alla Prima: Everything I know About Painting, by Richard Schmid, an instruction manual for would-be painters by someone who already is.

 

9. Margin of Risk: Risk-Averse Value Investing Strategies for the Thoughtful Investor, by Seth Klarman. I am always wary of people who tell you how to make money. If their formula works, why don't they just use it themselves instead of selling it to us?

 

8. Fast Times at Ridgemont High, by Cameron Crowe. A 1981 book that became a 1982 film, this is another regular on the list.

 

7. Mastering Atmosphere & Mood in Watercolor, by Joseph Zbukvic. An alternative if you can't find Schmid's book on painting, particularly if you favor watercolors.

 

6. Finding the Winning Edge by three-time Super Bowl winning coach Bill Walsh. Every football coach needs this book... except Bill Belichick.

 

5. Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns, by Barbara Brackman. This may not sound like the most exciting book on the list, and it probably isn't, but quilting and sewing books often make this list. These types of books tend to be published in smaller runs and never reprinted, but are highly desired by needleworkers.

 

4. Unintended Consequences, by John Ross. A fictionalized history promoting the gun culture. This book will scare you. If you fear the government is out to take away your rights, and armed resistance is your only hope, this book will scare you. If you don't believe that, the thought that armed citizens are reading this book will scare you.

 

3. Permaculture: A Designers Manual, by Bill Mollison. "Permaculture" is short for permanent agriculture. This is a book about ecologically-friendly sustainable farming.

 

2. Sex by Madonna. Talk about a perennial member of this list. It is almost always #1. Madonna's fans (and others) love the Material Girl's 1992 photo book, but it is not going to be published again. The book could be described anywhere from soft porn to obscene, depending on your point of view. We will settle for something in the middle, like kinky. It takes a mightily sought after book to push this one out of #1.

 

1. Westworld, by Michael Crichton. This probably won't be a regular at the top of the list, but the popular ten-part series last year on HBO based on this story propelled the book to #1. A lot of its purchasers were probably disappointed. Bookfinder notes that this is not a novel of the Westworld story, as buyers likely assumed. Rather, it is a companion paperback book for the 1973 movie of Westworld starring Yul Brynner. It is about a western-themed amusement park populated by androids who behave really badly toward their human guests. Crichton later doubled down on the theme with Jurassic Park. This book contains the movie script and photographs from the film, but is not a novelization.

 

You can see the entire Bookfinder list by clicking here.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> SHAKESPEARE, WILLIAM. <i>The Tragedie of Julius Caesar.</i> London, 1623. 1st appearance in print, Complete from the First Folio. Sold for $175,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Ernst, Max. <i>Mr. Knife and Miss Fork</i>. Paris, 1932. DELUXE EDITION. Sold for $15,625
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Cage, John. Autograph musical leaf from his Concert for Piano and Orchestra, NY, 1958. Sold for $18,750
    <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Einstein, Albert. Signed Passport Photo for his US citizenship application. Bermuda, 1935. Sold for $17,500
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Verard, Antoine. Illuminated printed Book of Hours. Paris, 1507. Sold for $7,500
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Wetterkurzschlussel. German Weather Report Codebook - for Enigma use. Berlin, 1942. Sold for $225,000
    <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Morelos y Pavon, Jose Maria. Autograph letter signed to El Virrey Venegas, February 5, 1812. Sold for $6,250
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Milne, A.A. Complete set of <i>Winnie-the-Pooh</i> books. 4 volumes. All first issue points. London, 1924-1928. Sold for $5,250
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> A 48-star American Flag, battle worn flown at Guadalcanal and Peleliu, 1942-1944. Sold for $35,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Locke, John. Autograph Letter Signed mourning the death of his friend, William Molyneaux, 2 pp, October 27, 1698. Sold for $20,000
  • <b>Doyle, online only: Angling Books from the Collection of Arnold "Jake" Johnson. July 13-24, 2018</b>
    <b>Doyle, online only Jul 13-24:</b> Zane Grey, Inscribed photograph album depicting Grey and party at Catalina, fishing, and in Arizona. $700 to $1,000
    <b>Doyle, online only Jul 13-24:</b> Eric Taverner, Salmon Fishing...London: Seeley, Service & Co., 1931. $600 to $900
    <b>Doyle, online only Jul 13-24:</b> The Gentleman Angler. $300 to $500
    <b>Doyle, online only: Angling Books from the Collection of Arnold "Jake" Johnson. July 13-24, 2018</b>
    <b>Doyle, online only Jul 13-24:</b> Ken Robinson, Flyfishers' Progress. [London: The Flyfishers' Club, 2000. $200 to $300
    <b>Doyle, online only Jul 13-24:</b> G. H. Lacy, North Punjab Fishing Club Angler's Handbook. Calcutta: Newman & Co., 1890. $300 to $500
    <b>Doyle, online only Jul 13-24:</b> J. Harrington Keene, Fly-Fishing and Fly-Making for Trout, etc. New York, 1887. $200 to $300
    <b>Doyle, online only: Angling Books from the Collection of Arnold "Jake" Johnson. July 13-24, 2018</b>
    <b>Doyle, online only Jul 13-24:</b> Arthur Macrate, The History of The Tuna Club, Avalon, Santa Catalina Island, California, 1948. $400 to $600
    <b>Doyle, online only Jul 13-24:</b> Joseph D. Bates Jr. Streamer Fly Tying and Fishing. Harrisburg, PA: The Stackpole Company, 1966. $800 to $1,200
    <b>Doyle, online only Jul 13-24:</b> Paul Schmookler and Ingrid V. Sils. Rare and Unusual Fly Tying Materials: A Natural History. $300 to $500
    <b>Doyle, online only Jul 13-24:</b> Herbert Hoover, Fishing For Fun - And To Wash Your Soul. New York: Random House, 1963. $400 to $600
  • <b>Potter & Potter Auctions: Fine Books & Manuscripts. July 28, 2018</b>
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions, July. 28:</b> Lot 372: Martin Luther King Jr. March for Freedom Now! Placard. Chicago, 1960. 28 x 22”. $3,000 to $6,000
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions, July. 28:</b> Lot 567: Warhol, Andy. Tate Gallery Exhibition Booklet, Signed on the Cover by Warhol. Tate Gallery, 1971. $700 to $900
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions, July. 28:</b> Lot 72: Mitchell, Margaret. <i>Gone With the Wind.</i> New York: The Macmillan Co., 1936. First edition, first issue. $4,000 to $5,000
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions: Fine Books & Manuscripts. July 28, 2018</b>
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions, July. 28:</b> Lot 468: Photo Archive Documenting the 1930s—50s Chicago Jazz and Night Club Scene. A significant collection. $2,000 to $4,000
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions, July. 28:</b> Lot 143: Dr. Seuss. <i>Oh Say Can You Say.</i> 1979, First Edition, Signed. $200 to $300
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions, July. 28:</b> Lot 285: [Maps] Thomas G. Bradford. <i>A Comprehensive Atlas, Geographical, Historical & Commercial.</i> Boston: William D. Ticknor, 1835. First Edition. $1,600 to $1,800
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions: Fine Books & Manuscripts. July 28, 2018</b>
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions, July. 28:</b> Lot 69: Herman Melville. <i>Moby Dick, or The Whale</i>. New York: Random House, 1930. First Kent Trade Edition. $400 to $600
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions, July. 28:</b> Lot 295: John James Audoban. Group of 148 Lithographs from the Birds of America. Philadelphia: J.T. Bowen, ca. 1840s. $600 to $800
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions, July. 28:</b> Lot 54: Langston Hughes. <i>One-Way Ticket.</i> New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1949. First edition. $300 to $500
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions: Fine Books & Manuscripts. July 28, 2018</b>
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions, July. 28:</b> Lot 7: Ray Bradbury. <i>The Martian Chronicles.</i> With a Wine Label Signed by Bradbury. Garden City: Doubleday, 1950. First edition $300 to $500
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions, July. 28:</b> Lot 121. Frank L Baum. <i>The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.</i> Chicago: George M. Hill Co., 1899, 1900. First Edition. $4,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions, July. 28:</b> Lot 369. [Declaration of Independence] Peter Force Engraving of the Declaration of Independence. One page; 29 x 26”. From the "American Archives" 1837-1853 series of books. $15,000 to $20,000
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Luis de Lucena, <i>Arte de Ajedres,</i> first edition of the earliest extant manual on modern chess, Salamanca, circa 1496-97. Sold for $68,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Carte-de-visite album with 83 images of prominent African Americans & abolitionists, circa 1860s. Sold for $47,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Gustav Klimt, <i>Das Werk,</i> Vienna & Leipzig, 1918. Sold for $106,250.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Man Ray, <i>[London Transport] – Keeps London Going,</i> 1938. Sold for $149,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Thomas Jefferson, Letter Signed, to Major-General Nathanael Greene, promising reinforcements against Cornwallis, 1781. Sold for $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Nicolas de Fer, <i>L’Amerique Divisee Selon Letendue de ses Principales Parties,</i> Paris, 1713. Sold for $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Russell H. Tandy, <i>The Secret in the Old Attic,</i> watercolor, pencil & ink, 1944. Sold for $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Ernest Hemingway, <i>Three Stories & Ten Poems,</i> first edition of the author's first book, Paris, 1923. Sold for $23,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Walker Evans, <i>River Rouge Plant,</i> silver print, 1947. Sold for $57,500.
  • <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Charles Darwin on sexuality and the transmission of hereditary characteristics: Autograph Letter Signed to Lawson Tait. Down, 17 January [1877].
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> MILTON, JOHN. <i>Paradise Lost. A Poem written in ten books.</i> London: 1667. A very rare example with the contemporary binding untouched and with a 1667 title page.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Hamilton secures the ratification of the Constitution: <i>The Debates and Proceedings of the Convention of the State of New-York, assembled at Poughkeespsie, on the 17th June, 1788.</i>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> The social contract “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains”: ROUSSEAU, JEAN-JACQUES. <i>Principes du Droit Politique [Du Contract Social]</i>. Amsterdam: Michel Rey, 1762
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> “The first English textbook on geometrical land-measurement and surveying”: BENESE, RICHARD. <i>This Boke Sheweth the Maner of Measurynge All Maner of Lande…</i>

Article Search

Archived Articles

Ask Questions