July 2011 | Rebecca Rego Barry

Ken Lopez

Catalogue Review: Ken Lopez, No. 155

Lopez-Proof.pngThe newest catalogue from Ken Lopez, a bookseller in Hadley, Massachusetts, has a very distinct focus: uncorrected proofs & advance copies. In his introduction (which is well worth a read), he writes, "Combining their historical scarcity, and likely future scarcity, with the textual variations that are often found -- and which, by definition, represent a state of the text closer to the author's original manuscript -- the value in collecting proof copies becomes, we think, self-evident."

Even titles so new as Delillo's Love-Lies-Bleeding from 2005 is collectible in this format; a signed uncorrected proof  is $300. Same for the advance reading copy of the first British edition of Steig Larsson's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo from 2008 -- it's $2,500. Ditto on the signed advance uncorrected reader's proof of Dave Eggers' 2000 memoir, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius for $300. (I worked at Simon & Schuster when this was published. Why didn't I save mine?!)

The big names of modern literature are here, and the offerings are impressive. Bellow (several, including a signed and hand-corrected ring-bound galley of Herzog for $9,500); Capote (advance reading copy of In Cold Blood for $750); Burroughs (rare uncorrected proof of Dead Fingers Talk for $1,500); Carver (several, including uncorrected proof of Will You Please Be Quiet, Please? with a laid in autograph note for $6,500); Ford (several, including an advance copy of the first British edition of Independence Day for $1,000); Garcia Marquez (uncorrected "pad-bound" proof of One Hundred Years of Solitude for $7,500); Irving (signed advance reading copy of The World According to Garp for $850); Proulx (several, including an uncorrected proof of The Shipping News inscribed by the author for $500); Updike (several, including an inscribed uncorrected proof of Bech is Back for $275) ; and D. F. Wallace (several, including a signed advance reading copy of Infinite Jest for $1,000).

Lopez gives an education in the variation of proofs, as well. For Pynchon's title, Mason and Dixon, Lopez has an uncorrected proof copy in plain blue wrappers for $3,500, another uncorrected "blue proof" with two dummy dust jackets wrapped around it for $4,000, and the advance reading copy in beige wrapper for $250 (which was actually one of two separate issues of beige proofs, the catalogue informs us).

J.K. Rowling collectors will surely be interested is what is called "perhaps the rarest set of Harry Potter items possible" -- that is, the uncorrected proof copies of the first three Potter books -- for $27,500.

Lopez makes an excellent case for the collectibility of proofs!