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First Books vs. First Editions: The Difference and Significance

By Nick Ostdick. Apr 7, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Rare Books, Book Collecting, Modern First Editions

Everyone thinks they understand the value of a first edition. The first printing of a book automatically makes it rare, right? Because X or Y novel is a first run, it’s immediately valuable and worthy of collecting, yes? While this is certainly the case with a number of books throughout the literary landscape, first editions are not necessarily sought after by collectors just because they’re the first run. In fact, when you think about it, every book ever published has a first edition printing, but some were not lucky enough to see a second or third.

One factor that truly makes a book rare, valuable, and the apple of a collector’s eye is the combination of a first edition and a first bookthat is, the first printing of an author’s first novel, usually an author of great regard or with a long, profound literary career. These literary Easter eggs are usually printed in small quantitiesremember: we’re talking about first novels from predominantly debut authorsand are often hardcover and ornate or individualized in cover design as subsequent printings tend to reduce artistic quality for mass reproduction. By the time these authors publish their second, third, or fourth books, first print runs usually increase based on demand, which makes the first editions of these first novels even more rare and valuable.

     
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Thomas Merton and the Dalai Lama: Spiritual Brothers

By Brian Hoey. Jan 31, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Modern First Editions

In an era where people all over the world are feeling increasingly divided by matters like race and religion, we can take solace in the knowledge that, recently, Pope Francis rated Thomas Merton alongside Martin Luther King, Jr., Abraham Lincoln, and Dorothy Day as his most admired Americans. This after years of certain Catholics in the United States tried to downplay the importance of Merton’s work as a champion of interfaith understanding. Of course, the Pope is not the only Thomas Merton fan who holds a high religious office today. Merton also boasts the regard of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

     
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Malcolm Bradbury's Personal and Literary Legacy

By Matt Reimann. Sep 7, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature, Modern First Editions

When Sir Malcolm Bradbury died in 2000, it seemed the entirety of London literary culture mourned. Here was a man who had written a trove of delightful novels, taught countless students, and advocated tirelessly for the advancement of the written word. His death sparked something different from the usual public grieving process. Where many authors are lamented because there will be no more books, this man was mourned because there would be no more Bradbury.

     
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Six Interesting Facts About Edgar Rice Burroughs, the Author of Tarzan

By Matt Reimann. Sep 1, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Modern First Editions

Recently, popular culture saw Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan resurrected once again for the silver screen. But The Legend of Tarzan, a blockbuster treatment of the much-cinematized hero, was received overall to mild acclaim. The problem seemed for both critics and audiences that the story itself was old. And in this moment, it pays to remember the time, place, and person the story came from.

     
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Kingsley and Martin Amis' Family Rivalry

By Matt Reimann. Aug 25, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature, Modern First Editions

There’s hardly a more memorable father-son duo in modern literature than Kingsley and Martin Amis. “Duo,” though, may not be the most accurate term. The pair never worked together, nor did they agree as far as art was concerned. In fact, each man was distinct in temperament and personality, writing novels unique to his own aims and tastes. Differ as they may, both have offered a powerful portraits of their times, with rich narrative voices to bring their visions to life.

     
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Revisiting the Good (and Bad) Aspects of Go Set a Watchman's Release

In February, the New York Post discovered Harper Lee had been keeping a Manhattan apartment for ten years. She renewed the lease on the enviable, $900-per-month Upper East Side dwelling just a few months prior to her death. Her neighbors remembered her fondly, noting her love of Sunday crosswords. The local butcher too recalled her kind requests for select cuts of meat. Lee had not visited the apartment since her stroke in 2007, but it is remarkable how this secret had been preserved until the very end. Especially when one considers the public appetite for all things Harper Lee.

     
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The Fitting Friendship of Kazuo Ishiguro and Caryl Phillips

By Matt Reimann. Mar 13, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature, Modern First Editions

A reader is commonly excited by a friendship between great authors. If only one could have eavesdropped on the conversations of Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville. Or to have been a fly on the wall in Geneva, as Lord Byron and Shelley chatted the night away (Percy Shelley, that is—Mary Shelley maintained a polite dislike for the Don Juan poet). These friendships, naturally, have perished with their authors. But that does not mean our age is without its own. One of today’s most remarkable literary alliances is to be found in the friendship between novelists Kazuo Ishiguro and Caryl Phillips.

     
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Why Are We So Obsessed with Sherlock Holmes?

By Matt Reimann. Mar 4, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Modern First Editions, Mystery, Suspense & Crime

As far as popular entertainment goes, we modern folk can have rather nineteenth century tastes. Our love of vampires can be traced to the vision of Bram Stoker. Our Christmas traditions are heavily indebted to the stories of Charles Dickens. Sherlock Holmeskept alive by a menagerie of TV shows, films, memorabilia, and readersis no different. But what is it about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous character that endures so well?

     
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Four Things You Probably Didn't Know About Charles Dickens

As one of the world’s first celebrity authors, much is known about Charles Dickens. He was an active public figure, one who liked walking about London, appearing in the press, and traveling and performing his works around the world. Even someone who hasn’t read Dickens will know something about his squalid childhood or his noble politics. But what about those facts and details that slip by the typical biography?

     
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Richard Brautigan and a One-Man Counter Culture

By Matt Reimann. Jan 30, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American Literature, Modern First Editions

Counter culture is an interesting phenomenon. Many may be dissatisfied with the current state of things, but this doesn’t mean they agree in their response. In the 1960s, some executed their discontent by protesting on campuses, while others departed from society at large to join communes. We tend to remember the groups that emerged during this formative era. But, writer Richard Brautigan created a counter cultural presence all his own.

     
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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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