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ABC for Book Collectors
by John Carter
Eighth edition, completely revised and re-set, with additional information and an Introduction by Nicolas Barker. Shaken, Unsophisticated, Harleian Style, Fingerprint, E-book, Dentelle. Can you define these terms? If not, this is the book for you! John Carter's ABC For Book Collectors has long been established as the most enjoyable as well as the most informative reference ...more
Unknown Binding, Eighth Edition, 234 pages
Published January 1st 2004 by Oak Knoll Press
(first published 1952)
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Books on Books: Bookmaking, Biblioclasm, Bibliophilia
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Containing a wealth of trivial-for-some-but-not-for-me information and terminology on book collecting, ABC... proved itself readable per sitting as well as a reference. I thought it (in 8th ed.) a bit expensive for its size (or format, ibid.), but it paid for itself when I saved $65 on a recent purchase of a translator-signed rarity. Descriptions of terms of condition, format (I always wondered what "8vo" meant), bindings, auction and cataloguers' lingo were succinct and easy to comprehend.
So, it's basically a dictionary for rare books and the antiquarian book trade. But don't expect scholarly non-biased descriptions. They are scholarly. But the author has a slight air of snobbery which is thoroughly entertaining. He knows his stuff and isn't afraid to talk snootily of the book trade and its less savory aspects. Seriously, read a dictionary shouldn't be this enjoyable. Also, these "biased" descriptions offer lots of subtle insight into the book trade for newbies.
I learned I do not really want to be a book collector. I like reading books to much. Rare books often can't be read since that could damage them. I would rather read a reprint. But it was still really interesting reading about old, rare, expensive books and the people who collect them.
Had to read this for a summer class on the history of the book. Written dictionary style it was a bit of a slog to get through, but it also had some dry British humor mixed in. The entry for "misprints" was actually hilarious. Useful if you plan on collecting old books.
I've no doubt that this is an indispensable reference book, but it is far less witty than the collector's accounts of it I've heard led me to believe. The most whimsical element is how it labels the material elements of the book itself (endpapers, verso, recto, etc.) in order to provide real evidence of definitions.