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

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Frances Palmer, <i>Battle of Buena Vista,</i> chromolithograph, New York, 1847. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Antonio Colmenero de Ledesma, the earliest publication concerned solely with chocolate, first edition, Madrid, 1631. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Romans Bernard, <i>An Exact View of the Late Battle at Charlestown, June 17th, 1775,</i> engraving, 1776. $40,000 to $60,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> <i>A Short Narrative of the Horrid Massacre in Boston,</i> English edition, London, 1770. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> William Soule, <i>Lodge of the Plains Indians,</i> albumen print, 1872. $1,500 to $2,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Manuscript document to enforce New York’s “Agreement of Non-Importation” during the heyday of the Sons of Liberty, New York, 1769. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Clarence Mackenzie, <i>Drummer Boy of the 13th Regiment of Brooklyn,</i> salt print with applied color, 1861. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Moses Lopez, <i>A Lunar Calendar,</i> first Jewish calendar published in America, Newport, RI, 1806. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b><br>The Book of Mormon, first edition, Palmyra, 1830. $30,000 to $40,000.
  • <center><b>Gonnelli Auction House<br>Books and Graphics<br>19th, 20th and 21st April 2021</b>
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 19-21<br>Books from XVI to XX Century</b>
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 20<br>Atlases and Maps</b
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 21<br> Veneto and Venice, a Selection of Books from the XVI to XX century</b>
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 20<br></b>Rossini Gioachino, Baguette de chef d'orchestre appartenuta a Gioachino Rossini, dono del Comune di Passy. 1500 €
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 21<br></b>Manetti Saverio, Storia naturale degli uccelli trattata con metodo. Cinque volumi. 1767. 18.000 €
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 21<br></b>Poe Edgar Allan, Double assassinat dans la rue morgue. Illustrations de Cura. 1946.
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 19-21<br>Books from XVI to XX Century</b>
  • <center><b>Sotheby’s<br>Collection of a Connoisseur:<br>History in Manuscript, Part 2<br>27 April 2021</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s, through Apr. 27:</b><br>Ronald Reagan. Series of 37 letters to Senator George Murphy, and related material, 1968-90. £50,000 to £70,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, through Apr. 27:</b><br>Chaim Weizmann. Autograph letter signed, to General Sir Gilbert Clayton, 6 September 1918. £20,000 to £30,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, through Apr. 27:</b><br>Sir Winston Churchill. Autograph letter signed, to Pamela, Lady Lytton, 1942. £20,000 to $30,000.
    <center><b>Sotheby’s<br>Collection of a Connoisseur:<br>History in Manuscript, Part 2<br>27 April 2021</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s, through Apr. 27:</b><br>Oscar Wilde. Five autograph letters signed, to Alsager Vian, 1887. £15,000 to £20,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, through Apr. 27:</b><br>Napoleon I. Letter signed to Admiral Ganteaume, ordering the invasion of England, 22 August 1805. £10,000 to £15,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, through Apr. 27:</b><br>Horatio, Viscount Nelson, and Emma Hamilton. Two autograph letter signed, to Catherine and George Matcham, 1805. £6,000 to £8,000.

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