Rare Book Monthly

Articles - January - 2008 Issue

Second Life: It's Not a Game

"So I don my juvenile female fairy costume (with wings), and shrink down to about 3 feet tall."


By Renée Magriel Roberts

It's 11 PM and I've finally finished stacking orders for tomorrow, dispensed with all today's correspondence, special-ordered books, finished and uploaded today's data entry. So I don my juvenile female fairy costume (with wings), and shrink down to about 3 feet tall. I'm ready to go exploring, exploring virtually, that is, in the realm of Second Life (www.secondlife.com).

I'm not alone. At this moment there are almost 50,000 visitors to Second Life, who within the last 24 hrs. have spent over $1.3 million in a 3D digital world that is designed, imagined, and executed by its 11 million residents. This is a world being used in every imaginable way and is still in its infancy -- major universities use it for courses and simulations, residents buy and sell everything from how one's avatar (the virtual being that you control) looks and acts, to what it wears, where it lives, what it listens to, and what vehicles it drives, and most importantly for our purposes ... what it reads.

What is Second Life? It is an open-ended, resident-created three-dimensional world, opened in 2003, and populated by individuals all over the world. It is full of opportunities for social networking, creating new environments, and building new businesses.

Because residents maintain the rights to their digital creations, there is a vast marketplace on Second Life. The Linden dollar (L$) is the currency of this world and it trades with other world currencies. Second Life may look like a game, but it is decidedly not a game. Investors like Mitch Kapor (Lotus), Ray Ozzie (Microsoft), Pierre Omidyar (eBay) and Jeff Bezos( Amazon) have bet big bucks that Second Life will be one of the next coming things.

While Second Life costs nothing to explore (including creating one of the stock avatars), buying "property" costs Linden dollars (L$), currently trading in real life at about US$1 to L$300. In addition, residents can purchase anything imaginable in this virtual world, including ... books.

I'd like you to imagine sitting in your living room, in front of a very big screen digital display. Through your avatar you are exploring a street of antiquarian bookstores in a mythical or "real" virtual village. You go into one and inquire about their collection of materials on Benjamin Franklin. You can pull virtual books down from the shelves and open them up to see their title pages or illustrations, or their bindings. Through streaming audio and video you can find out more about each book, as well as related titles.

A bookseller avatar, in real time, can discuss the books with you and send you descriptive information which your avatar stores. You can chat or talk with an audio link. You can also link, in real time, to outside websites.

Rare Book Monthly

  • Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    30th May 2024
    Forum, May 30: Potter (Beatrix). Complete set of four original illustrations for the nursery rhyme, 'This pig went to market', 1890s. £60,000 to £80,000.
    Forum, May 30: Dante Alighieri.- Lactantius (Lucius Coelius Firmianus). Opera, second edition, Rome, 1468. £40,000 to £60,000.
    Forum, May 30: Distilling.- Brunschwig (Hieronymus). Liber de arte Distillandi de Compositis, first edition of the so-called 'Grosses Destillierbuch', Strassburg, 1512. £22,000 to £28,000.
    Forum, May 30: Eliot (T.S.), W. H. Auden, Ted Hughes, Philip Larkin, Robert Lowell, Seamus Heaney, Ted Hughes, & others. A Personal Anthology for Eric Walter White, 60 autograph poems. £20,000 to £30,000.
    Forum, May 30: Cornerstone of French Enlightenment Philosophy.- Helvetius (Claude Adrien). De l'Esprit, true first issue "A" of the suppressed first edition, Paris, 1758. £20,000 to £30,000.
    Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    30th May 2024
    Forum, May 30: Szyk (Arthur). The Haggadah, one of 125 copies, this out-of-series, Beaconsfield Press, 1940. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, May 30: Fleming (Ian). Casino Royale, first edition, first impression, 1953. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, May 30: Japan.- Ryusui (Katsuma). Umi no Sachi [Wealth of the Sea], 2 vol., Tokyo, 1762. £8,000 to £12,000.
    Forum, May 30: Computing.- Operating and maintenance manual for the BINAC binary automatic computer built for Northrop Aircraft Corporation 1949, Philadelphia, 1949. £8,000 to £12,000.
    Forum, May 30: Burmese School (probably circa 1870s). Folding manuscript, or parabaik, from the Court Workshop at the Royal Court at Manadaly, Burma, [c.1870s]. £8,000 to £12,000.
  • Ketterer Rare Books
    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    K. Marx, Das Kapital,1867. Dedication copy. Est: € 120,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Latin and French Book of Hours, around 1380. Est: € 25,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Theodor de Bry, Indiae Orientalis, 1598-1625. Est: € 80,000
    Ketterer Rare Books
    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Breviary, Latin manuscript, around 1450-75. Est: € 10,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    G. B. Piranesi, Vedute di Roma, 1748-69. Est: € 60,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    K. Schmidt-Rottluff, Arbeiter, 1921. Orig. watercolour on postcard. Est: € 18,000
    Ketterer Rare Books
    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Breviarium Romanum, Latin manuscript, 1474. Est: € 20,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    C. J. Trew, Plantae selectae, 1750-73. Est: € 28,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    M. Beckmann, Apokalypse, 1943. Est: € 50,000
    Ketterer Rare Books
    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Ulrich von Richenthal, Das Concilium, 1536. Est: € 9,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    I. Kant, Critik der reinen Vernunft, 1781. Est: €12,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Arbeiter-Illustrierte Zeitung (AIZ) / Die Volks-Illustrierte (VI), 1932-38. Est: €8,000
  • Sotheby’s
    Modern First Editions
    Available for Immediate Purchase
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Winston Churchill. The Second World War. Set of First-Edition Volumes. 6,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: A.A. Milne, Ernest H. Shepard. A Collection of The Pooh Books. Set of First-Editions. 18,600 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Salvador Dalí, Lewis Carroll. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Finely Bound and Signed Limited Edition. 15,000 USD
    Sotheby’s
    Modern First Editions
    Available for Immediate Purchase
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Ian Fleming. Live and Let Die. First Edition. 9,500 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: J.K. Rowling. Harry Potter Series. Finely Bound First Printing Set of Complete Series. 5,650 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Ernest Hemingway. A Farewell to Arms. First Edition, First Printing. 4,200 USD

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