Meet the Winner of the Honey & Wax Book Collecting Prize

Last week, New York's Honey & Wax Booksellers announced the winners of its inaugural book collecting prize for young women. The new award was launched earlier this year by Heather O'Donnell and Rebecca Romney in hopes of encouraging collecting among women under 30. In all, 48 submissions arrived from all corners of the country. One winner and five honorees were chosen. Said the booksellers, "It took us some time to read all those essays and bibliographies, but it was well worth it."

JessPage1.jpgAnd this year's winner is... 29-year-old Jessica Kahan (pictured at left), a public librarian in Ohio, for her 300-volume collection "Romance Novels of the Jazz Age and Depression Eras." Kahan said she heard about the Honey & Wax prize through her 2012 National Collegiate Book Collecting Contest sponsor, Martha O'Hara Conway, director of the special collections library at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, who knew Kahan was developing a terrific collection of American romance novels, c. 1920s and 30s in their original dust jackets, and encouraged her to apply. Kahan's collection impressed the Honey & Wax judges for its "breadth and depth ... Kahan's refusal to condescend to her subject helps us see how a genre famous for its rigid conventions bends to reflect the changing lives of American women."

KahanSpines2.jpgKahan, whose mother and grandmother were both librarians, has "always loved books" she told us. "I grew up surrounded by books and a strong love of reading and literature. Sometimes I joke that my romance novels collection is my rebellious reaction to being encouraged to read high-quality literature. My collection started in 2010, the year after I took an eye-opening History of the Book class as an undergraduate."

With her $1,000 prize, Kahan said she intends to "donate part of the prize to a local food bank and to the Rachel P. Kahan Memorial Scholarship Fund at Michigan State University." Then, she continued, "I plan to purchase a 'celebration' book. I'm not sure which book yet, but I have a few ideas. The rest of the prize will be used towards savings and funding my next rare book adventures."

You can learn more about Kahan's collection on her blog, thegoodbadbook.

The submission deadline for next year's Honey & Wax Book Collecting Prize is June 1.

Images via Honey & Wax