Rare Book Monthly

Articles - May - 2007 Issue

What are the Top 10 Most Common Books in Libraries?


No. 1 on the OCLC list, the all-time bestseller, the Bible.

2. Runner up, and though a distant second, the only other book remotely in the ballpark, is the Census. However, while the Bible does not have too many versions, the Census requires many censuses of many types over many years to accumulate its second-place 460,628 copies.

3. Now we get to a bit lighter fare. Third is Mother Goose, the classic children's stories that come in many varieties. Indeed, it is hard to know when these tales began or connect any particular author to them. This is an amorphous item, but it is nonetheless credited with 67,663 copies.

4. The last book to average over one copy per library is Dante's Divine Comedy. It has had plenty of time to be accumulated in libraries, it being almost seven centuries old, older than printing. At 62,414 copies, chances are your library has one.

5. Next up is a book that makes Dante look modern. In fact, it competes with the Bible for age. It is Homer's Odyssey, still going strong after all of these years. 45,551 copies.

6. Homer accomplished something neither Shakespeare nor even God could -- two books in the OCLC Top 10. Just a little behind his last entry comes the Iliad with 44,093 copies.

7. At last something that's recent enough to come from an American author -- Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. His friend Tom Sawyer is number 16. Could there possibly be an American library without this book? 42,724 copies.

8. This one is downright modern, though I'm not sure it deserves this high a ranking: Lord of the Rings (trilogy) by J.R.R. Tolkien. 40,907 copies.

9. The first Shakespeare, the aforementioned Hamlet, and this is behind Lord of the Rings? 39,521 copies.

10. Another worthy Englishman, and a contemporary of Twain -- Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Like Twain, author "Lewis Carroll" was really someone else. After this book, logic was never the same. 39,277 copies.

The next two are a couple more Middle Ages classics, Don Quixote and Beowolf. While religion is a runaway at number 1 with the Bible, it also captures number 13 with the Koran 230 with the Book of Mormon, and 594 with Dianetics (of Scientology). Number 14 is the Night Before Christmas, but it would be stretching things to call that book religious, even if it is about Christmas. While religion is omnipresence on the list, the state seems more separated from libraries, with the U.S. Constitution managing only 10,330 appearances, good for just 237th place.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Abraham Lincoln, <i>Emancipation Proclamation by the President of the United States,</i> pamphlet, 1862. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Family papers of the distinguished Ruby-Jackson family, Portland, Maine, 1853-1961. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Family papers of the Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens & the persons who served him, 1866-1907. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Autograph book with inscriptions by orators Moses Roper & Peter Williams, 1821-54. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Archive of letters, postcards, and greeting cards sent by Romare Bearden, 1949-87. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b><br>E. Simms Campbell, <i>A Night-Club Map of Harlem,</i> in inaugural issue of Manhattan, 1933. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Papers of the comedian Nipsey Russell, including a letter from MLK, 1929-2000. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Early German-American anti-slavery broadside, <i>Sclaven-Handel,</i> Philadelphia, 1794. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Edmonia Lewis, prominent sculptor, carte-de-visite by Henry Rocher, c. 1866-71. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b><br><i>The Black Panther: Black Community News Service,</i> 44 issues, San Francisco, 1967-1971. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Ernest Withers, <i>I Am A Man, Sanitation Workers Strike,</i> silver print, 1968. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> <i>March For Freedom Now!,</i> poster for the 1960 Republican Convention. $4,000 to $6,000.
  • <center><b>Arader Galleries<br>April Auction<br>April 4, 2020</b>
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> MITCHELL, John (1711-1768). A Map of the British and French Dominions in North America. Copperplate engraving with original hand color. London, 1755. $250,000 to $350,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> AUDUBON, John James (1785 - 1851). Brown Pelican (Standing), Plate 251. Aquatint engraving with original hand color. London, 1827-1838. $175,000 to $225,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> AUDUBON, John James (1785 - 1851). Fish Hawk or Osprey, Plate 81. Aquatint engraving with original hand color. London: 1827-1838. $100,000 to $150,000.
    <center><b>Arader Galleries<br>April Auction<br>April 4, 2020</b>
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> GONZALES DE MENDOZA, Juan (1545 - 1618). <i>The Historie of the great and mightie kingdome of China…</i> London, 1588. $100,000 to $150,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> VERBIEST, Ferdinand (1623-1688). [World Map] Kun-Yu Ch'uan-Tu. Engraved twelve sheet map with vertical sections joined to form six sheets. Korea, Seoul, c. 1860. $100,000 to $150,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> SANGGI, Chong (1678-1752). Korean Atlas. Manuscript map on mulberry bark paper. C. 1750-1790. $100,000 to $150,000.
    <center><b>Arader Galleries<br>April Auction<br>April 4, 2020</b>
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> AUDUBON, John James (1785 - 1851). Ivory-billed Woodpecker, Plate 66. Aquatint engraving with original hand color. London, 1827-1838. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> AKERMAN, Anders (1721-1778). & AKREL, Frederik (1779-1868). Pair of Celestial and Terrestrial Globes. Stockholm, c. 1800. 23 inch diameter, each. $60,000 to $100,000.

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