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Nick Ostdick
Nick Ostdick is a husband, runner, writer, and craft beer enthusiast based in Western Illinois. He holds a MFA in creative writing from Southern Illinois University and has worked as a college instructor, journalist, and blogger.

Recent Posts:

The Bond Dossier: Thunderball

By Nick Ostdick. Dec 2, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Book Collecting, James Bond

There are some books where the story behind the story is just as interestingif not more sothan the story itself. 007 creator and novelist Ian Fleming had largely avoided this scenario in the publication of his first seven Bond novels; however, Fleming’s eighth 007 novel, Thunderball, found Fleming and his protagonist in some of the most high-stakes peril yetthough Bond’s struggles against international crime syndicates pales slightly in comparison to Fleming’s entanglements with copyright lawyers.

Whatever the case, Thunderball marked several turning points for both Fleming and James Bond. While the novel was one of the most well-received and commercially successful Bond novels to date, the composition of the novel was fraught with roadblocks and speed bumps, which is perhaps part of what drove Fleming’s creative process and allowed him to unfold one of his more spine-tingling plots.

     
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The Importance of Condition in Rare Book Collecting

By Nick Ostdick. Nov 15, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Rare Books, Book Collecting

Condition. Condition. Condition. It’s something of a mantra heard from the novice rare book collector to book collecting experts and everyone in between. Perhaps just as important as whether a book is a first edition or the first of its kindprimacythe condition of a book is crucial in helping assess its value and place in the rare book collecting universe. This is especially true when looking at modern classics such as F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby where the number of original copies is quite large compared with other classic American novels published just 10 or 20 years before. For example, copies of Gatsby in prime condition can significantly differ in value from copies in fair or poor condition published during the same era.

Given the importance placed on condition by collectors, it’s critical to understand the key elements that define the term. What should collectors look for when considering condition? What are the prime factors that determine the condition of a given book? And how do these elements work together in both large and small ways to help collectors accurately assess the value of a certain book?

     
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The Bond Dossier: Goldfinger

By Nick Ostdick. Nov 11, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: James Bond

It’s a central question in the journey of any artist: How do you bounce back from a project that didn’t meet audience expectations? For novelist Ian Fleming, the answer lies in the publication of his seventh James Bond novel, Goldfinger.

Coming off a somewhat tepid response to his previous novel, Dr. No, Fleming was determined to turn out a Bond story that would not only further the development of the series and its central character, but also give readers what they had come to know and love in the Bond seriesaction, adventure, thrills, romance, and style. And Fleming’s efforts to write a ‘return-to-form’ novel paid off handsomely.

     
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Primacy and Rare Book Collecting: The Value of Being First

As the old saying goes: ‘It pays to be first.’

In the world of rare book collecting, this is also a well-known fact. First editions. First printing. First drafts of manuscripts. These are usually the kinds of 'firsts' book collectors are on the look-out for when evaluating a book’s worth and value, and it’s these elements that factor largely into how much rare books fetch at auction and how sought-after they become.

However, the concept of primacy, or being recognized as the first incarnation of something within the literary canon, goes well beyond the simple notion of first editions or first printings. First mentions of a character, a setting, a theory, an idea, or even the first location where a book was printed all factor into the primacy of a book and are important elements book collectors and evaluators must weigh when determining a book’s worth and value.

     
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The Bond Dossier: Dr. No

By Nick Ostdick. Oct 1, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Book Collecting, James Bond

There comes a time in any great series of books when the tides turn—when, for some reason or another, the characters, plots, themes, or messages of the books fall out of favor or have their relevancy or worth challenged, both for the writer and the reader. For Ian Fleming and his James Bond novels, that time came with Dr. No. (1958), the sixth book in the Bond series under Fleming’s watch.

In hindsight, perhaps the spiral in critical appeal—though the commercial success of Dr. No remained aligned with the Bond novels that came before—was inevitable. After all, Fleming was uncertain about Bond’s future following the completion and publication of the previous 007 adventure, From Russia with Love, so much so that he waffled on whether to kill off his titular character. In fact, early versions of the book actually saw Bond’s death scene played out in some kind of melancholic, triumphant glory.

     
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Book It: Five of the Most Interesting U.S. Libraries

Let’s face it: Visiting a library while traveling to a new city is not always atop everyone’s must-do list. Even for the most bookish or literary-minded traveler, libraries as destinations often get lost in the fray when whipping up itineraries or sightseeing spots. Museums. Parks. Skyscrapers. Food markets. Sporting events. These activities more times than not reign supreme over buildings of archaic texts and decaying books where most travelers feel ‘You’ve seen one library, you’ve seen them all.’

But there are a number of libraries across the country that not only warrant serious investigation but also reward visitors with insight into our nation’s history and heritage. Whether simply marveling at the architectural wonders of these buildings or getting lost in the sheer number of volumes they offer, the U.S. plays host to some of the most aesthetically stunning, comprehensive, and interactive libraries the world over.

     
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The Bond Dossier: From Russia with Love

By Nick Ostdick. Sep 9, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Book Collecting, James Bond

There comes a point in every artistic endeavor when an artist grows tired of the very creation that once thrilled them, that took them from struggling nobody into the stratosphere of fame and fortune. For James Bond creator and author Ian Fleming, that moment of doubt, frustration, and uncertainty finally reared its ugly head with the fifth novel in the James Bond 007 series, From Russia with Love.

Published in April 1957, the novelwidely considered to be one of Fleming most interesting and captivating Bond novelrepresents a moment in Fleming's career where he seriously considered giving up the Bond mantle. In writing to friend and fellow crime writer Raymond Chandler, Fleming lamented his perceived lack of originality and staleness with where the Bond series had gone and his desires to end the series with From Russia with Love in favor of moving on to other novels, stories, or projects.

     
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Let’s Get Some Sun: A Literary Tour of Florida

By Nick Ostdick. Aug 3, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Literary travel

For many, Florida is something of a no man’s landa state whose cultural and geographic regions make for an eclectic, disparate mix of traditions and heritage, incorporating southern culture from the north and Caribbean influences from the south. It’s a state brimming with swampland and beachfront, with incongruities like the Everglades and the Keys, a combination attracting a diverse population and cross-section of people who desire for an even more diverse literature that speaks to their experience as Floridians.

     
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The Big Apple: Four New York City Writers You Should Be Reading

By Nick Ostdick. Jul 27, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Pulitzer Prize, Literary travel

In the pantheon of American arts and letters, few cities loom larger than New York City. The center of American publishing since the earliest days of the enterprise, New York City has, at one time or another, played host to a number of the country’s most daring, innovative, and influential authors. Entire literary scenes and schools have emerged, developed, and faded in the city’s numerous boroughs. Some of the most infamous relationships between writers have been forged in the city’s storied cafes and bars. It’s the one place in America where the literati congregate: where the aspiring bring their stories to see if the world is ready to listen.

With such a rich tradition of the written word, it’s would be easy to celebrate the authors who journeyed to NYC to stake their claim as the best writers in America. John Cheever. John Updike. J.D. Salinger. These are the names that spring to mind when you think of NYC as hallowed halls for great American authors.

     
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Nothing But Land: A Literary Tour of the Great Plains

“A place where there was nothing but land: not a country at all, but the materials out of which countries were made.”

A bleak sentiment, yes, but perhaps one that has been the basis for some of the most stark, intimate, and revealing writing in the American literary tradition. Taken from the mind of Jim Burden, the central character in Willa Cather’s masterpiece novel, My Antonia (1918), this moment expresses a place where imagination, creativity, and fortitude are not merely boons to intellectual survival: they’re essential. But perhaps it makes sense that these aforementioned qualities are also often found in the lives and stories of some of America’s most famous authors.

     
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    About this blog

    How can I identify a first edition? Where do I learn about caring for books? How should I start collecting? Hear from librarians about amazing collections, learn about historic bindings or printing techniques, get to know other collectors. Whether you are just starting or looking for expert advice, chances are, you'll find something of interest on blogis librorum.

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