Rare Book Monthly

Articles - August - 2010 Issue

Sci-Fi, New Tech & the Modern Book Collector

Cherryh'sworld

C.J. Cherryh's older works may be found in Cherryh's world.


By Stephanie Howlett-West

Technology and Science Fiction have always shared a symbiotic relationship - where there is one, the other will follow; so it should not be a surprise that Science Fiction authors in the internet age have embraced technology in all its dazzling new formats. From the Kindle to the blogosphere, from the podcast to the print-on-demand market, authors are using alternatives and additions to the printed page with zeal. This outreach to new technological innovation is great for the author and for the general reader who follows that author - but what does it mean for the reader who collects an author's work? Will collecting keep up with the changes in technology? Should it?

While all authors in all subject matters are dealing with the changes, the Science Fiction community has welcomed them with enthusiasm. These authors keep current on the instantaneous (and sometimes spontaneous) adaptations of technology that appear as if by magic, and then presto-chango, they finagle even more ways of utilizing the medium.

Free-on-line first printing
SF author Cory Doctorow took a huge gamble for himself and his publisher and convinced his publisher to offer the entire contents of his first published novel (he had been publishing well received short stories and non-fiction pieces for a few years prior) - free of charge - online as a downloadable file - before the print version of the novel was available to the public. Why would Doctorow do such a thing? How could he ever make any money on the print version if his readers had already read the book for free? And where does the internet version fall in the area of collecting? As it turns out, Doctorow's calculations paid off and the print edition sold well and continues to sell. This is great news for Doctorow, and for his fans - but for those of us who collect SF (which, I should mention is my catch-all synonym for SF / Fantasy / Horror and its peripherals), we want the FIRST version of a work... the closest available format to the writer's thought process (depending on how rabid a collector one is) and that version is, be definition, the downloadable format from the internet.

Other experimental formats
And if a downloadable book (I should mention that Doctorow's book - Down and Out In The Magic Kingdom {Tor Books, 2003} - did not have textual changes made between the online version and the printed version) is an odd duck to collect, there are even newer formats, newer twists to the idea of what is a book / writing that collectors will have to deal with as far as collecting is concerned. For example, Wil Wheaton (best known for his stint on TV as Wesley Crusher in the series Star Trek: The Next Generation), wends his way through the geeky world of the internet as a blogger, sometime journalist and an author (along with continued work as an actor and voice actor).

This July he made available a group of short stories he had written - the catch was, instead of going through an established publisher, he decided to offer the short story compilation (offered either as a downloadable file or as a print-on-demand physical book to be mailed out) via an online self-publishing site called Lulu. Now this compilation barely squeaks by for the purposes of this article because there was a limited edition chapbook printed in 2009 for a convention, but the thought counts - and is in the process of rearranging SF collectors views of what exactly is there to collect.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <center><b>Arader Galleries<br>April Auction<br>April 4, 2020</b>
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> MITCHELL, John (1711-1768). A Map of the British and French Dominions in North America. Copperplate engraving with original hand color. London, 1755. $250,000 to $350,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> AUDUBON, John James (1785 - 1851). Brown Pelican (Standing), Plate 251. Aquatint engraving with original hand color. London, 1827-1838. $175,000 to $225,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> AUDUBON, John James (1785 - 1851). Fish Hawk or Osprey, Plate 81. Aquatint engraving with original hand color. London: 1827-1838. $100,000 to $150,000.
    <center><b>Arader Galleries<br>April Auction<br>April 4, 2020</b>
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> GONZALES DE MENDOZA, Juan (1545 - 1618). <i>The Historie of the great and mightie kingdome of China…</i> London, 1588. $100,000 to $150,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> VERBIEST, Ferdinand (1623-1688). [World Map] Kun-Yu Ch'uan-Tu. Engraved twelve sheet map with vertical sections joined to form six sheets. Korea, Seoul, c. 1860. $100,000 to $150,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> SANGGI, Chong (1678-1752). Korean Atlas. Manuscript map on mulberry bark paper. C. 1750-1790. $100,000 to $150,000.
    <center><b>Arader Galleries<br>April Auction<br>April 4, 2020</b>
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> AUDUBON, John James (1785 - 1851). Ivory-billed Woodpecker, Plate 66. Aquatint engraving with original hand color. London, 1827-1838. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> AKERMAN, Anders (1721-1778). & AKREL, Frederik (1779-1868). Pair of Celestial and Terrestrial Globes. Stockholm, c. 1800. 23 inch diameter, each. $60,000 to $100,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> BENNETT, Lieut. William Pyt (d. in action, 1916). AN IMPORTANT AND APPARENTLY UNPUBLISHED SERIES OF GELATIN SILVER PHOTOGRAPHS OF LHASA AND TIBET TAKEN DURING THE CELEBRATED YOUNGHUSBAND MISSION OF 1904. $60,000 to $80,000
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Abraham Lincoln, <i>Emancipation Proclamation by the President of the United States,</i> pamphlet, 1862. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Family papers of the distinguished Ruby-Jackson family, Portland, Maine, 1853-1961. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Family papers of the Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens & the persons who served him, 1866-1907. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Autograph book with inscriptions by orators Moses Roper & Peter Williams, 1821-54. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Archive of letters, postcards, and greeting cards sent by Romare Bearden, 1949-87. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b><br>E. Simms Campbell, <i>A Night-Club Map of Harlem,</i> in inaugural issue of Manhattan, 1933. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Papers of the comedian Nipsey Russell, including a letter from MLK, 1929-2000. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Early German-American anti-slavery broadside, <i>Sclaven-Handel,</i> Philadelphia, 1794. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Edmonia Lewis, prominent sculptor, carte-de-visite by Henry Rocher, c. 1866-71. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b><br><i>The Black Panther: Black Community News Service,</i> 44 issues, San Francisco, 1967-1971. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Ernest Withers, <i>I Am A Man, Sanitation Workers Strike,</i> silver print, 1968. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> <i>March For Freedom Now!,</i> poster for the 1960 Republican Convention. $4,000 to $6,000.

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