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'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

  • Bonhams, July 15-25: THE AUTOGRAPH COLLECTION OF ISRAEL WITKOWER. $8,000 - $12,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: GEORGE WASHINGTON SIGNED DISCHARGE. June 9, 1783. $8,000 - $12,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: "Shhhhh!" A DAVID SHANNON ILLUSTRATION FROM DAVID GETS IN TROUBLE. $2,500 - $3,500
    Bonhams, July 15-25: PICASSO, PABLO. Le Carmen des Carmen. Paris, 1964. $2,000 - $3,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: RARE AUTOGRAPH OF AMERICAN NAVAL HERO CAPTAIN JAMES MUGFORD. $2,000 - $3,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: KARA WALKER SILHOUETTES FOR TONI MORRISON'S FIVE POEMS. $2,000 - $3,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: FIRST APPEARANCE OF PINOCCHIO IN ENGLISH. COLLODI, CARLO.New York, 1892. $2,000 - $3,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: BONAPARTE, JOSEPHINE. Autograph Note (unsigned) in French. $1,000 - $1,500
    Bonhams, July 15-25: FROST ON MATTHEW ARNOLD.Autograph Letter Signed to Adams, July 27, 1934. $800 - $1,200
    Bonhams, July 15-25: ELIAS BOUDINOT'S COPY OF BARLOW'S COLUMBIAN EPIC. $800 - $1,200
    Bonhams, July 15-25: A SIGNED HART CRANE BROOKLYN BRIDGE POSTCARD TO EDWARD DAHLBERG. $600 - $800
    Bonhams, July 15-25: A STOCK CERTIFICATE SIGNED BY THE "QUEEN OF WALL STREET," HETTY GREEN. $700 - $900
  • Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    18th July 2024
    Forum, July 18: Rowling (J.K.) Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, first hardback edition, 1997. £40,000 to £60,000.
    Forum, July 18: Binding.- Lucian of Samosata Opuscula Erasmo Roterodamo interprete, first Aldine edition, Venice, Heirs of Aldus Manutius and A, 1516. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, July 18: Bacon (Sir Francis). De Dignitate et Augmentis Scientiarum Libri IX, Pierre Gassendi's copy gifted him by Nicolas-Claude Fabri de Peiresc, Paris, Typis Petri Mettayer, 1624. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    18th July 2024
    Forum, July 18: Shakespeare (William). The First Part of Henry the Fourth, with the Life and Death of Henry, Sirnamed Hot-Spurre…, Printed by Isaac Jaggard, and Ed. Blount, 1623. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, July 18: Darwin (Charles). On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, third edition, presentation inscription 'From the Author' in a secretary's hand, John Murray, 1861. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, July 18: Teague (Violet). Geraldine Rede. Night Fall in the Ti-Tree, first edition, Melbourne, Sign of the Rabbit, 1905; and another. £10,000 to £15,000.
    Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    18th July 2024
    Forum, July 18: India.- Primrose (Gen. James Maurice). Collection of 24 original drawings from his time in India with the 43rd Regiment of Foot, circa 1855 to 1864. £10,000 to £15,000.
    Forum, July 18: Manet (Édouard). Trente Eaux-fortes originales, the complete portfolio, Paris, A. Stroelin, 1905. £8,000 to £12,000.
    Forum, July 18: Bible, English. [The Holy Bible], first edition of the King James Bible, the Great 'He' Bible, [Robert Barker], [1611]. £6,000 to £8,000.
    Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    18th July 2024
    Forum, July 18: America.- Mathews (Alfred E.) Pencil Sketches of Montana, first edition, New York, Published by the Author, 1868. £6,000 to £8,000.
    Forum, July 18: Bawden (Edward). Original dust-jacket artwork for 'The Outsider' by Albert Camus, [c.1946]. £4,000 to £6,000.
    Forum, July 18: World.- Fries (Laurent). Tabula Nova Totius Orbis, woodcut map, [c.1541]. £3,000 to £5,000.
  • Sotheby’s, July 11: Galileo, Document annotated and signed by Galileo, dated Padua, 1595. £500,000 to £700,000.

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