Rare Book Monthly

Articles - October - 2007 Issue

What's Atop BookFinder's Top Ten This Year?

Simpson

Jessica Simpson joins Madonna this year as one of BookFinder's favorite authors.


By Michael Stillman

BookFinder has issued its annual report of Top Ten Lists of the most searched for books, and as always, they are a curious mix of the popular and the hard-to-find. There aren't a lot of classic works here, and some might not unfairly be labeled "trash," but at least they are books, which places them a step up the ladder from most television fare or what you find on YouTube. So be thankful that some people still buy printed words and images.

The BookFinder lists are substantially different from those put out by AbeBooks. BookFinder searches many listing sites, which explains why it receives more searches for obscure or hard-to-find items, while Abe's lists are more inhabited with currently popular and more common works. The first of BookFinder's ten categories provides the ultimate example. Number 1 in Arts and Music, for the sixth straight year, is Madonna's Sex, but due to its rarity, it is only number 362,822 in Amazon's sales rank. This 1992 book of "artistic" photographs, of more than passing prurient interest, has long been hard to obtain, so people keep searching everywhere. Madonna remains an icon after all these years. Runner up in this category is a new entry, Currier and Ives, by Harry T. Peters. I'm not familiar with this book. Do you suppose people misconstrued Harry Peters for Harry Potter?

Under biography, Johnny Cash has slipped a bit from number 1 to 3, with Tim Reiterman's Raven: The Untold Story of the Rev. Jim Jones and His People now at the top. I like Johnny Cash better than Jim Jones (I like just about anybody better than Jim Jones), but Jones is certainly the more sensational. A biography of boxer Rubin "Hurricane" Carter now appears as runner up (how long ago did Bob Dylan sing Carter's biography?), while biographies of westerner Charles Russell and decathlete Bob Richards join repeat favorite Universalist Minister Daniel Bragg Clayton near the top.

Rob White's The Lion's Paw is once again the most searched for children's book. None of Madonna's children's books made the list. People evidently prefer her as a visual artist to a written one. Makes sense. The lack of anything from Dr. Seuss ought to be investigated. Here is a trivial factoid: the longest title in this category is five words, with seven containing three or fewer. Seven of the ten biographies contain more than five words in their title. Maybe if we all wrote as if we were writing for children, we would learn how to be more succinct and to the point.

The addition of sports to the Crafts, Hobbies and How-To category moves last year's Popular Science leader, Steve Belichick's Football Scouting Methods, to the leader in Crafts, etc. This has the odd effect of placing the son of the New England Patriot's coach in a list filled with knitting books. Another title in there is recently divorced Jessica Simpson's I Do: Achieving Your Dream Wedding. Perhaps picking the right man should also be a factor. I'm not sure whether Herman Edward Davis' The American Wild Turkey is about the animal or the whiskey.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Eric Carle, <i>The Very Hungry Caterpillar,</i> hand-painted collage. Sold for a record $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Charles Addams, <i>Couple passing a giant bird house,</i> watercolor cartoon for <i>The New Yorker,</i> 1948. Sold for $16,250.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Miriam Troop, <i>Rain on Laundry Day,</i> oil on canvas, cover for <i>The Saturday Evening Post,</i> 1940. Sold for $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Rockwell Kent, <i>To All Fascists,</i> ink broadside for The League of American Writers, circa 1937. Sold for $6,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Jo Mielziner, <i>Pet Shop Drop,</i> backdrop design for <i>Pal Joey</i> on Broadway, 1940. Sold for a record $55,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Lee Brown Coye, acrylic cover illustration for the 25th anniversary of <i>Weird Tales,</i> 1944. Sold for $18,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Virgil Finlay, <i>The Outsider & Others,</i> pen & ink dust jacket illustration for H.P. Lovecraft's book, 1939. Sold for $5,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Al Hirschfeld, <i>Paul Robeson as Othello,</i> illustration for <i>The New York Times,</i> 1942. Sold for $68,750
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Frederic Remington, pen & ink illustration for <i>A Scout with the Buffalo Soldiers</i> in <i>The Century</i> magazine, 1889. Sold for $17,500.
  • <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> EARLY AVIATION PHOTOGRAPHY ARCHIVE. Chronicling 20th century aviation from the earliest Wright Brothers images through commercial and military applications. $50,000 to $70,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> FIRST TELEPHONE CALL TO THE MOON. Partial transcription signed by Apollo 11 astronauts and President Nixon. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> SPUTNIK-1 EMC/EMI LAB MODEL, 1957. Full scale vintage test model of the Sputnik-1 satellite, Moscow, [February, 1957]. $400,000 to $600,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> Apollo 11 Beta cloth crew emblem, SIGNED BY THE ENTIRE APOLLO 11 CREW. $8,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> GEMINI 1/8 SCALE MODEL. Rarely seen large-scale contractor's model. $3,000 to $5,000
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> SMITH, CHRISTOPHER WEBB. 1793-1871. <i>Indian Ornithology.</i> [Patna, India]: 1828. $50,000 to $80,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> DUPRÉ, LOUIS. 1789-1837. <i>Voyage à Athènes et à Constantinople, ou Collection de portraits, vues et costumes grecs et ottomans.</i> Paris: Dondey-Dupré, 1825. $60,000 to $90,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> ADAMS, JOHN. Autograph Letter Signed ("J Adams"), [to Dr. Perkins?] while recovering from his small pox inoculation, [late-April, 1764]. $30,000 to $50,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> AUSTEN, JANE. Autograph Letter Signed ("J. Austen"), to her sister Cassandra, 4 pp, "Thursday – after dinner," [September 16, 1813,] Henrietta St. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> AUDUBON, JOHN JAMES. 1785-1851. <i>The Birds of America, from Drawings Made in the United States and Their Territories.</i> New York & Philadelphia: J.J. Audubon & J.B. Chevalier, 1840-1844. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> DODWELL, EDWARD. 1767-1832. <i>Views in Greece.</i> London: Rodwell and Martin, 1821. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> JAMES, JESSE. Autograph Letter Signed ("Jesse W. James"), to Mr. Flood demanding Flood retract spurious accusations, 3 pp, June 5, 1875. $200,000 to $300,000.

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