Rare Book Monthly

Articles - September - 2008 Issue

BookFinder Announces the Most Sought After Books of the Year

Marilyn

Marilyn still fascinates us today.


By Michael Stillman

Bookfinder.com recently released its fifth annual report of the most sought after old books on its book searching website. BookFinder's Top 10 reports are fascinating as the leading titles combine high interest with difficulty to find. The most sought after books on the listing sites tend to be common and recent publications, ones which people seek online for a cheaper price. However, when searchers go to BookFinder, which enables them to search many listing sites at once, the chances are good that they are attempting to locate a book that is hard to find. The desired, but hard to locate book, dominates BookFinder's Top 10 lists.

Not surprisingly, the hard to obtain titles often are ones that have a story behind them to explain their rarity. BookFinder's founder, Anirvan Chatterjee, noted, "Many of this year’s standout titles have fascinating stories, involving factors like suppression or controversy." Others simply have issues of demand outstripping supply. Some of these books show up on the list year after year, while others will experience 15 minutes of fame, and then again be relegated to the back shelves of disinterest. For now, here are what people who seek old books online were looking for during the past year.

Only one category has a perennial favorite, number one on the list every year since BookFinder began tallying its reports. In the category of Arts and Music, number 1 is again Sex by Madonna. Unlike many books on this list, Sex is hardly rare, 1.5 million copies having been sold within days of its release in 1992. However, the strange erotica for which the singer-actress posed seems not to have lost any of its artistic or whatever appeal. And, Madonna has not aged a day since 1992 on the pages of this book. This year, the winner of runner-up honors in Arts and Music goes to Bob Dylan, whose recent Drawn Blank consists of paintings created from sketches he had made on tour years earlier. His art, like his music, is far subtler than that of Madonna.

The Madonna of another generation tops the most sought after works in the field of Biography: Marilyn: A Biography. This 1973 book by Norman Mailer includes provocative photos of the great Marilyn Monroe, perhaps not as outrageous as those of Madonna, but as controversial in their day as was the Material Girl's photographs in hers. Mailer also posited a bizarre political murder plot for a death the authorities attributed to a suicidal overdose of pills. This list also includes autobiographies of the dearest of mommies, Joan Crawford, and wrongly convicted boxer Rubin Carter, who spent many years in prison for murder. However, Rin Tin Tin was unable to compose an autobiography, so James W. English filled in to write The Rin Tin Tin Story on his behalf.

In Children's Books, Robb White's The Lion's Paw completes its third year on top. Two titles from popular illustrator Tasha Tudor, who died just a few months ago, make their first appearance on this list.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <center><b>Swann Auction Galleries<br>Edward Hopper & His Contemporaries:<br>Making a Modern American Art<br>June 30, 2022
    <b>Swann June 30:</b> Edward Hopper, <i>The Railroad,</i> etching, 1922. $70,000 to $100,000.
    <b>Swann June 30:</b> Edward Hopper, <i>Sheet of Studies with Men in Hats and a Saloon Keeper,</i> pen, ink & pencil, circa 1900-05. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann June 30:</b> Edward Hopper, <i>Night Shadows,</i> etching, 1921. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <center><b>Swann Auction Galleries<br>Edward Hopper & His Contemporaries:<br>Making a Modern American Art<br>June 30, 2022
    <b>Swann June 30:</b> John Marin, <i>Woolworth Building, No. 2,</i> etching & drypoint, 1913. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann June 30:</b> Charles Demuth, <i>Tulips,</i> watercolor & pencil, 1924. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Swann June 30:</b> Edward Hopper, <i>Under Control,</i> gouache, ink & wash, circa 1907-10. $30,000 to $50,000.
  • <b>Bonhams, June 28:</b> JESSE JAMES. Autograph Letter Signed on the attack at his home which maimed his mother and killed his nephew Archie, 6 pp, March 23, 1875. THE MOST IMPORTANT JESSE JAMES LETTER EXTANT. $300,000 to $500,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 28:</b> THE LETTER THAT ARRIVED TOO LATE: An important letter from Robert E. Lee to Ulysses S. Grant across the battlefield at Cold Harbor, June 6, 1864. $120,000 to $180,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 28:</b> DAVY CROCKETT. Autograph Letter Signed on his political philosophy and his dispute with Andrew Jackson, "at home Weakley County," August 18, 1831. $40,000 to $60,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 28:</b> GEORGE WASHINGTON. Letter Signed to Colonel Richard Gridley, the first engineer of the American Army, Morris Town, January 9, 1777. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 28:</b> SCOTT FITZGERALD. <i>Tender is the Night.</i> FIRST EDITION, INSCRIBED to H.A. Swanseid. $30,000 to $50,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 28:</b> EDGAR RICE BURROUGHS. <i>Tarzan of the Apes.</i> FIRST EDITION. $40,000 to $60,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 28:</b> J.R.R. TOLKIEN. <i>The Hobbit, or There and Back Again.</i> FIRST EDITION. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 28:</b> NATHANAEL WEST. <i>The Day of the Locust.</i> PRESENTATION COPY, inscribed to director Richard Wallace in the year of publication. $6,000 to $8,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 28:</b> FRANCIS PICABIA. Archive of 17 Autograph Letters signed to Jennie Thiersch on art and life, 1948-1951. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 28:</b> JOHN HANCOCK. Autograph Letter Signed to his wife Dolly from the Continental Congress, 4 pp, Philadelphia, March 10-11, 1777. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 28:</b> NIGHTGOWN WORN BY CHARLOTTE CARDEZA DURING THE TITANIC DISASTER AND RESCUE. $40,000 to $60,000

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