Rare Book Monthly

Articles - July - 2007 Issue

In The News: Smiley Restitution Upped to $2.3 Million, Amazon to Get More Print-on-Demand Books

Booksurge

BookSurge's new contracts mean more print-on-demand books for Amazon.


By Michael Stillman

Final restitution figures for convicted map thief E. Forbes Smiley were raised from an earlier estimate of $1.9 million to $2.3 million. The higher amount was ordered after a thorough investigation of the value of the maps he admitted to stealing. The money will be used to repay map sellers and libraries that purchased the maps he stole. Smiley admitted to stealing 100 maps, 96 of which have been recovered. Some have questioned whether there might have been more, but prosecutors were sufficiently satisfied with his cooperation to recommend the 3 1/2 year sentence he received, half of what it might have been if he had been less cooperative.

Smiley admittedly stole maps from several major libraries, including Yale University, Harvard, the Newberry, New York Public, Boston Public, and the British Library in London. His modus operandi was to slice valuable old maps out of antiquarian texts with a razor. He was captured after an alert librarian noticed he had dropped a razor beneath a table where he was working. He was sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison last September after pleading guilty to the 100 thefts.

Whether the increase in the amount of restitution will have any practical effect remains to be seen. It is questionable whether Smiley will be able to produce enough to pay back $1.9 million, let alone $2.3 million. Financial difficulties may have been part of the explanation for his thefts in the first place. His ability to come up with millions of dollars now could well be a stretch.

In a related story, former Rockland County [New York] Historical Society curator Rebecca Chen was arrested for stealing a valuable American atlas from her former employer. The atlas, Henry Tanner's New American Atlas, published in 1823, is likely worth something north of $50,000, perhaps as much as $80,000. Chen sent emails to booksellers, including one in Philadelphia who was suspicious. Police were there to meet Ms. Chen when she arrived at the shop with her book.

BookSurge announced they have signed up more publishers for its print-on-demand service. Among those publishers for whom they will print out-of-print titles on demand are HarperCollins, McGraw Hill and John Wiley. On another front, BookSurge entered into an agreement with Kirtas Technologies, a scanning/digitization firm, to digitize many older books to add to its print-on-demand library. Among the libraries that have signed up to make their collections available for the project are Emory University, University of Maine, the Cincinnati and Toronto Public Libraries.

Unlike Google Book, which is in the process of scanning millions of rare books from the collections of some of the world's most prestigious libraries, and then making them accessible without charge via the internet, BookSurge's titles will be available on a print-on-demand basis, with a fee attached. Those fees would be shared by BookSearch and the institutions which provide the books. BookSurge also uses its print-on-demand capacity to print self-published books for current authors in need of a publisher. BookSurge is owned by Amazon, purchased by the latter about two years ago. We assume we will be seeing more print-on-demand titles coming to that site soon.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <center><b>The Collectors’ Sale<br>March 3, 2021</b>
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Mar. 3:</b> Verlag, Luzern, Publishers: <i>The Book of Kells,</i> the most precious illuminated manuscript of the early Middle Ages, now reproduced, the FIRST AND ONLY COMPLETE FINE ART FACSIMILE EDITION. €5,000 to €6,000.
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Mar. 3:</b> Rowling (J.K.) <i>Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone,</i> 8vo, L. (Bloomsbury) 1997, First Deluxe Edn., Signed by the Author on title page. €4,000 to €5,000.
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Mar. 3:</b> Gilbert (John T.) Account of Facsimiles of National Manuscripts of Ireland, from the earliest extant specimens to A.D. 719. €2,000 to €3,000.
    <center><b>The Collectors’ Sale<br>March 3, 2021</b>
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Mar. 3:</b> <i>The Georgian Society Records of Eighteenth-Century Domestic Architecture in Dublin [-Ireland],</i> 5 vols. lg. 4to D. 1909 - 1913. Limited Editions. €1,500 to €2,000.
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Mar. 3:</b> Yeats (W.B.) <i>The Poems of W.B. Yeats,</i> 2 vols., roy 8vo, L. (MacMillan & Co.) 1949, Limited Edn., No. 185 (of 375 copies). Signed. €1,500 to €2,000.
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Mar. 3:</b> Crone (John S.)ed. <i>The Irish Book Lover, A Monthly Review of Irish Literature and Bibliography.</i> Vol. I No 1 August 1909 - Vol. XXXII No. 6, September 1957. €1,250 to €2,000.
    <center><b>The Collectors’ Sale<br>March 3, 2021</b>
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Mar. 3:</b> Yeats (John Butler) <i>An original self-portrait Sketch,</i> Signed and dated April 1919, N[ew] York. €1,200 to €1,500.
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Mar. 3:</b> Photograph Album. Entitled ''A Souvenir of the Visit to Jeypore Samasthanam of His Excellency the Right Hon'ble Viscount Goschen of Hawkhurst… 14th December 1927''. €1,000 to €1,500.
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Mar. 3:</b> Pistolesi (Erasmo) <i>Il Vaticano,</i> 8vols. large atlas, folio Rome (Tipografia della Societa..) 1829. €500 to €600.
    <center><b>The Collectors’ Sale<br>March 3, 2021</b>
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Mar. 3:</b> Chagall (Marc)illus., Legmarie (Jean) comp., <i>The Jerusalem Windows,</i> folio N.Y. (George Braziller) 1962. €400 to €500.
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Mar. 3:</b> Bullitt (Thos. W.) <i>My Life at Oxmoor,</i> Life on a Farm in Kentucky before the War. Roy 8vo Louisville, Kentucky, 1911. Privately Printed No. 86 of 100 Copies Only. €300 to €400.
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Mar. 3:</b> Popish Plot: Oates (Titus) <i>The Popes Whore House or The Merchandise of The Whore of Rome,</i> folio L. 1679. First Edn. €100 to €150.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 25:</b> Frederick Douglass, ALS recruiting help for his paper after schism with Garrison, Rochester, 1851. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 25:</b> James Dean, photograph by Sanford H. Roth, signed & inscribed by Dean. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 25:</b> Richard Wagner, ALS requesting confirmation that the Grand Duke received his letter, 1863. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 25:</b> Benjamin Rush, ALS, doctor’s note for a Revolutionary soldier, 1780. $2,500 to $3,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 25:</b> Lord Byron, ALS to Cambridge classmate, “your friendship is of more account to me than all these absurd vanities,” c. 1812. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 25:</b> Ernest Hemingway, <i>Three Stories & Ten Poems,</i> first edition of the author’s first book, Paris, 1923. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 25:</b> Ralph Ellison, <i>Invisible Man,</i> first English edition of the author’s first novel, signed, London, 1953. $1,800 to $2,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 25:</b> Margery Lawrence, <i>The Madonna of Seven Moons,</i> first edition in unrestored dust jacket, Indianapolis, 1933. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 25:</b> Joseph Albers, <i>Interaction of Color,</i> 80 color screenprints, Yale University Press, New Haven & London, 1963. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 25:</b> Albert Einstein, autograph manuscript, unsigned, likely a draft discarded while working toward a unified field theory. $10,000 to $20,000.

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