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America’s Membership Libraries
In Rhode Island, we have more libraries per capita than any other state. Admittedly, as the smallest state in the union, we have a fixation with bragging rights, but it is remarkable that for a population of just over one million people there are twenty-one academic libraries, seventy-one public libraries, ninety-seven school libraries, thirteen hospital libraries, and eight “special” libraries. Two libraries in this last group—the Redwood Library and Athenaeum (established in 1747) and the Providence Athenaeum (founded in 1836)—are represented in America’s Membership Libraries, edited by Richard Wendorf, the director of the Boston Athenaeum.
A Valiant Enterprise
A History Of The Talisman Press, 1951–1993: Printers, Publishers, And Antiquarian Booksellers
I loved this book.
In almost twenty years of reviewing a wide range of books for many publications, I have never bluntly used those four simple words to describe any book.,p>
Historical Atlas of California
In the antiquarian bookstore that I own, one of my first priorities this Christmas was to stock the Historical Atlas of California, the latest work from Fine Books & Collections’s map columnist, Derek Hayes. I had received an advance copy and knew that it would appeal to most anyone with an interest in the history of the state or in maps in general. Our first shipment didn’t last a day. I doubled the second order. The books arrived on a Friday morning. By Saturday at noon, I had two customers arguing over the last copy. As I write this, our third shipment is finally on the shelves.
Books on Fire
The Destruction of Libraries Throughout History
Shoot the Widow
Adventures of a Biographer in Search of Her Subject
Secrest writes biographies for the completely selfish enterprise of the joy of discovery. From the outside, it might seem that Meryle Secrest was born to be a biographer. She is, after all, the Pulitzer Prize–nominated author of nine biographies of famous people—ten if you count this narrative of her own life. But as we see in her new book, Shoot the Widow: Adventures of a Biographer in Search of Her Subject, writing biographies did not always come naturally and, as she discovered anew with each book, the genre presents a set of challenges and pitfalls not encountered in other kinds of writing.
Out of Print & Into Profit
A History of the Rare and Secondhand Book Trade in Britain in the Twentieth Century
The Antiquarian Booksellers Association (ABA) celebrated its centennial in 2006 and published this dense and excellent collection of essays to commemorate the anniversary. Most of the authors belong to the organization, which counts among its members the most venerable dealers in the United Kingdom. Giles Mandelbrote, the editor and a curator at the British Library, wisely solicited essays from other librarians, auctioneers, scholars, and even a magazine editor or two, and their commentaries leaven the mix.
Alexis de Tocqueville
Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859), a French magistrate who visited the United States in 1831 to report on our prison system, was propelled to fame as a writer and thinker upon the publication of his De la démocratie en Amérique in 1835. Joseph Epstein, a former editor of the American Scholar who is widely known for his essays on American life and letters, has contributed a volume on Tocqueville for the Eminent Lives series from HarperCollins. Epstein's purpose was to "get at the quality of the extraordinary mind that wrote Democracy in America… [and to] understand better why Alexis de Tocqueville is one of the most engaging figures in intellectual history." The result is a finely drawn portrait of Tocqueville's mind, with the events of his life as a backdrop. Epstein concludes that "no one has yet gone beyond [Tocqueville's] portrayal of the weaknesses and strengths of democracy; no one has had a surer sense of what a democratic government is likely and unlikely to accomplish. He understood, as we put it today, the trade-off of what was gained and what was lost with the advent of equality in modern life; and it is doubtful if anyone since has understood it more deeply."
E. Edward Seymour and the Fancy Paper Company
The Story of a British Marbled Paper Manufacturer
Since 1976, I have published six books on paper marbling. Most are by Richard Wolfe, but I also did books by Iris Nevins and about Karli Frigge. The main attraction of these books are the tipped-in samples of beautiful hand-marbled papers. A few years ago, Sidney Berger, now the director of the Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum, sent me the manuscript of his book about Edward Seymour. Seymour ran the Fancy Paper Co. from 1924 to 1971, where he produced machine-made marbled papers for the book trade. The book documents Seymour's manufacturing process, which relied upon a Rube Goldberg-looking machine of his own invention. When
The Age of the Storytellers
British Popular Fiction Magazines, 1880-1950
It's hard to imagine a writer eking out a living these days by writing short stories, but a century ago, the magazine market for short fiction was robust enough to make it possible. In the intro-duction to The Age of the Storytellers, a look at British fiction periodicals, Mike Ashley states that his purpose is to "provide a history and appreciation of these magazines [and] to explore their contribution to the growth of popular fiction." He presents his work as "the first reference book to study these magazines in the context of their period and provide a comprehensive survey and analysis." Of the 144 magazines listed in the book, seventy are covered in some depth, with the rest only meriting entries of a few sentences.
From Short Story to Big Screen: 35 Great Stories That Have Inspired Great Films
I vividly remember the first time I saw David Cronenberg's remake of The Fly. We arrived late on opening night, and the place was packed. It was one of those giant Los Angeles movie theaters, filled with a thousand people. My friends and I ended up sitting in the front row, the huge screen looming over us, and George Lucas's THX sound system—still relatively new at the time—vibrating the seats. I actually ducked when the gore began to fly during the dramatic climax. You'd think I'd never seen a movie before. At that moment, watching the best special effects Hollywood could throw at the screen, I understood how audiences must have felt the first time they saw a moving picture.