Saturday, June 17, 2017

“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends;

they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.”
Charles William Eliot

This follows up on last week's blog about writing...lo and behold...the book...another lost soul in the e-book world...or in the world, period.  Many statistics will highlight that some Americans do not read books at all (and I shall not name names); I have seen a number of 26%, but again statistics may not include reading that is not traditional book reading.  On the other hand, maybe people don't read period!  We are so busy (written with sarcasm and rolled eyes that cannot translate on the net).

Being an English teacher with a degree in Library Science as well, I love books.  Real books.  Not Kindles or e-books or any such gadget reader.  I want a book...cover, paper, substance!  I read every night before going to sleep...love chick lit...or trash as I call it...but I do not need serious thought at bed time...let me escape.  

Actually, book production dates to the Roman Empire.   Libraries were private or encouraged by individuals.  Julius Caesar wanted one in Rome, and this may be the beginnings of the Presidential Libraries and their symbol of political prestige.

In the year 377, there were 28 libraries in Rome, and it is known that there were many smaller libraries in other cities. Despite the great distribution of books, scientists do not have a complete picture as to the literary scene in antiquity as thousands of books have been lost through time.

I love old books.  I love their titles...
I love their covers...
That is the cover to this book...
I think it is a unique combo to Poe.  But, I do have my Lit students rear "The Cask of Amontillado" that was published in the late 1800s in the Godey's Lady's Book...a women's version of a modern fashion magazine with fiction.

I like books where the owner has a name and a date.  The penmanship is always amazing...of course, today any handwriting is soon to be in the collectible world as cursive is going the way of books, photos, talking face to face...I shall stop before I become too nostalgic and feel older than I already do!

Another way to look at history is through old textbooks.  This is from the 1930s.  It would show how much things have changed simply by comparing the articles in the old text books.
 
 Then, there are the novels with illustrated covers...many times printed papers mounted on the book. I always look for these books.
 Sometimes just a strange mix that a book offers will intrigue me.  Who celebrates Longfellow's Birthday?  We really need to bring back that Peace Day though!
It’s not always obvious whether or not a book will be valuable.  I see books in thrift shops and other shops for $5 to $10.  Just because a book is old does not mean it is rare.   First: how rare is the book? In other words, how many copies of it are out there in the world? The rarer a book is, the more valuable it’s likely to be.

Most books printed in the 19th century are fairly common. You would probably have to find something printed in the 1700s or earlier for the book’s age to contribute directly to its rarity.
Also, first editions tend to be rarer than later printings of a book.  What is rare are the items that are fading from our current digital world...manuscripts, letters, journals, and original artwork because usually only one example exists. Importance, condition, and provenance also impact a book's value.  The myth of old equals value is no longer viable if it ever was despite the stories from the flea market find folks.

So, what to do with old books?  I think they make neat gifts for those who still appreciate the printed word.  This is a tiny book of poems by Robert Burns...about 3"x4"...hand sewn...

They provide neat decorative touches also...and, no, I am not talking about the coffee table books!

And, maybe you will even want to read one!

“I cannot remember the books I've read any more than the meals I have eaten; even so, they have made me.” 
 ~  Ralph Waldo Emerson

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