Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Used and Rare: Travels in the Book World” as Want to Read:
Used and Rare: Travels in the Book World
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Used and Rare: Travels in the Book World

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  1,420 ratings  ·  165 reviews
When Nancy tracked down a ten-dollar copy of War and Peace in order to win a birthday bet with Larry, the Goldstones' love affair with old books began. Over the next three years they haunted every used and rare bookshop between New York and Boston that they could find, from dingy, dust-filled barns to elegant Park Avenue galleries. Starting small on cheap, out-of-print use ...more
Paperback, 225 pages
Published April 15th 1998 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published 1997)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Used and Rare, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Used and Rare

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.93  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,420 ratings  ·  165 reviews

Sort order
Feb 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is a book for anyone who dreams of becoming a book collector. Nancy and Lawrence Goldstone didn't know anything about rare books when they started visiting antiquarian book shops -- all they knew is that they wanted nice hardback copies of the authors they loved to read. But they asked lots of questions and slowly learned the lingo, and we learn along with them. We discover the meanings of the terms "foxed" and "bubbling," and that "good" means bad in the rare book business. (The items labe ...more
Jill Mackin
Oct 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arts, books, non-fiction
A wonderful little book about the joys of book collecting. The writing is effortless and informal. I enjoyed it immensely.
Nov 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
"That's the good thing about firsts. You know they won't drop in value."
"That's true." As if we had any idea at all of what we were talking about.
"That means if we wait it will only go up in value."
"So we're actually saving money if we buy it now."
"Look, we can't just spend a hundred dollars on a book."


An adorable book by a New England couple, detailing how they went from buying $10 hardbacks at their local secondhand dealer to attending rare book auctions in New York in " a per
Nov 15, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography-memoir
Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone, both novelists, tired of birthday competitions to see who could present the more extravagant gift. They decided to limit their spending to $20 maximum and that’s how they came into possession of a translation of War and Peace each had wanted to read complete with original illustrations and maps for $10. The book was used, of course, or “previously read,” as Cadillac owners might say, and so began a delightful obsession (or “gentle madness” that many of us suffer fro ...more
May 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books, non-fiction
This book was sooo wonderful! Nancy and Larry Goldstone take the reader along their journey into the world of used and rare books. And what a world it is! Everything was so fascinating! I learned so much!

They also discuss the stories of particular authors and books they like, which means (as it usually happens with the best "books about books") that my TBR increased exponentially. Just the bit about finding a good edition of War and Peace and how much Larry enjoyed the Maude translation sent me
Kyriakos Sorokkou
Sep 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Ένα βιβλίο που μιλά για βιβλία. Σπάνια βιβλία, μεταχειρισμένα βιβλία. Πρώτες εκδόσεις βιβλίων όπως Dracula, Bleak House, The Great Gatsby. Χαρακτικά, Έγγραφα, Βιβλία με αφιερώσεις συγγραφέων, βιβλία που άνηκαν σε διάσημους βιβλιολάτρεις, Δημοπρασίες βιβλίων, και λίγο μυστήριο.

Οι συγγραφείς αυτού του βιβλίου μέχρι το 1994 ήταν απλά συγγραφείς και φυσικά λάτρεις του βιβλίου ως αναγνωστικό μέσο κυρίως. Όμως επί την ευκαιρία των κοινών τους γενεθλίων στην ίδια εβδομάδα αναγκάστηκε ο ένας από τους δυ
Christopher Roth
May 30, 2013 rated it it was ok
I actually read this book to the end and found the scattered information and insights in it worth reading. I even was curious as to how this couple's foray into the world of used and rare book collecting turned out. But in the course of it I got so fed up with these two particular people that I have to give this book only 2 stars. For one thing, it is written in the cloying first-person plural, like The Virgin Suicides or Double Down, but they are no Barthelmes and no Eugenides. Then there was w ...more
Oct 03, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 1990s, books
Two refugees from Wall Street retreat to western Mass. and discover the pleasures of shopping for used and rare books. There's really no plot, nor suspense, nor mind blowing conclusion ... just a fun and often funny relation of a series of generally happy afternoons spent in musty secondhand bookshops browsing for hardcover editions of modern literature. The authors meet a lot of nice and sometimes quirky book dealers, and they get to handle some extraordinary books (like Melville's edition of a ...more
I love reading books about books. In Used and Rare, authors Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone are bitten by the collecting bug after one stumbles upon a copy of War and Peace as a birthday gift for the other. The concept that books have their own stories entrances the Goldstones, and they embark upon a journey to find books they already know and love in more valuable editions. Along the way, they also find new authors to read, as well as a number of fascinating book dealers who contribute to the Gold ...more
Laura Jean
Jan 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017, library, non-fiction
I particularly loved this book, but I came to it biased. I already love the Goldstones' historical non-fiction. Having already read (and loved) their 2003 book Out of the Flames, this book was even MORE fascinating to me. Out of the Flames is a book about one of the rarest books in history, Michael Servetus' The Chrisitianismi Restituto, of which only three copies remain. Reading Used and Rare, from 1997, shows us just how the Goldstones were introduced into the world of used and rare ...more
Dana Stabenow
Jan 01, 2013 rated it liked it
Larry and Nancy Goldstone sort of back into collecting modern first editions, by way of a hilariously extended effort for Nancy to find Larry a birthday gift for $20 or less. They have a bet on; he is to do the same for her. In the end, Larry gives Nancy a bath brush. She gives him a copy of War and Peace. It's a Heritage edition, the Maude translation, has maps of battles, fold-out illustrations and its own slipcase. Nancy found it for $10, and they spend three weeks talking about it. (She tota ...more
Anne Nerison
I came away from this book with mixed feelings. On the one hand, Used and Rare: Adventures in the Book World is a fun story about searching for, well, used and rare books. I love used and rare books, and I even like reading about them, so that part I quite enjoyed. On the other hand, the sometimes-entitled attitudes of the authors got to me. For example, they pop in on a bookseller who's just moved and is getting ready for a major book fair, and are disappointed when the owner won't let them loo ...more
C.J. Darlington
Jan 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book was so fun to read since at the time it was my world. I traveled the country buying and selling used and rare books for many years, and the Goldstone's perspective is insightful and a neat glimpse into this strange world. Things have changed dramatically since, due to the internet, but you'll learn about first editions and those who collect them in this fun tale of a couple's journey into the antiquarian book world.
Eustacia Tan
Jul 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned, non-fiction
I haven't re-read this in ages (long enough that this doesn't have a Goodreads review) but yesterday's book reminded me of it and luckily, it was on the the books that I brought over to Japan with me.

Used and Rare is the story of how the two authors got into book collecting. It all starts with a bet to see who can get the better birthday present within a budget. Nancy gets a lovely hardback copy of War and Peace and that not only allows her to win the bet, but sparks an interest in used books.

Jul 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This was an interesting read about their journey with book collecting before the internet. I enjoyed reading tidbits about authors and books even though I don't intend to collect first editions or spend hundreds of dollars on a book.
Jon Sears
Aug 20, 2018 rated it it was ok
I kept waiting for it to get didn't.
Mar 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011, finished
This book taught me about two kinds of book lovers. Those who love what the book reads, and think it is an added advantage if the book looks beautiful; and those who are more of a competitive affectation. I think I belong to the first group. I still don’t understand the second one. Even after reading this book. To be precise, I don’t understand the justification. Should you buy a book for 10.000 dollars? Just because you can?

This book is not trying to justify either. The authors start out as the
Nola Redd
Apr 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: readers, booklovers, collectors
Recommended to Nola by: Me! (found browsing titles at library)
I checked this book out from the library expecting one thing, and found something quite different. Used and Rare is the story of a couple's journey from book reader to book collector. The writing is clear, and the sense of humor excellent. Soon we, too, are drawn into this world, which answers one of the questions I have always wondered - who would pay a couple thousand dollars for a book?

One of the most interesting things about this book is that it is written not by one author but by two - an
A close friend of my family’s is an antiquarian bookseller, so when I picked up this book I wasn’t completely unfamiliar with the subculture that it portrays. It was interesting to take a closer look at the world of used and rare books through this memoir of a husband and wife becoming engrossed in a new hobby. The descriptions of the booksellers themselves gave life to the otherwise somewhat mediocre memoir — from the eccentric couple who runs a used bookstore out of their barn to the high brow ...more
Mar 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Gerry by: Bought for me by Debz.
Just the book for the bibliophile, or if you are like me, the bibliomaniac.

It all begins with a search for a copy of 'War and Peace' (I could never get on with it I'm afraid despite a number of attempts) and escalates into a search for first editions of major authors, both American and English.

New England bookshops are raided and booksellers, who are all characters of one kind or another, are met. Purchase prices are paramount and, from small beginnings, a little like the acorn, a large, and occ
James Sorensen
Aug 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A great read for all bibliophiles. The book starts with an agreement to spend only $10 or less on future Birthday presents to each other. When Nancy Goldstone looks for a nice, inexpensive copy of "War and Peace" for her husband she finds that it might not be as simple as she thought. This leads to the discovery of many how many used book stores there are in the Boston area and also Chicago.

Lawrance and Nancy soon discover the world of the true book collector: modern 1st editions, antiquarian bo
Nov 11, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: People interested in the book world
One of the best 'books about books' I have read. When I say best, in this case, I actually mean easiest to read. :) 'Books about books' are notoriously hard to read/enjoy, but this one wasn't that bad of a study exercise.

This one is actually told as a narrative story from the point of view of a couple as they navigate from book-loving novices to near-experts in the rare book field. The book takes you through their progression by starting you at their first purchase at a used book store all the w
Jul 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
So this is how collectors/addicts get started, from trying to get a used book at under $20 to spending hundreds of dollars on 1st editions (The really expensive books go for tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars but this is out of the authors' league). This book is a good read for those and *only those* who harbour secret (or not-so-secret) ambitions of starting their own book collection one day. Now, how does one attend a book auction here in Singapore?
Jan 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This is more than a light, fun read. The authors share their journey of accidently becoming book collectors. On the way we meet a lot of interesting book dealers, and also learn a lot about the world of book collecting.
Oct 04, 2008 rated it really liked it
Fun lesson on the beginnings of addiction. Like the hard drugusers' marijuana as starter drug, modest first editions were the starter for the Goldstone's book addiction.
Apr 08, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-i-own
I'm not normally a fan of nonfiction, but I've read this book repeatedly. It's a fascinating look at how a book-collecting obsession begins. I can identify.
May 14, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Booklovers o' course!
Shelves: books, non-fiction
A peek into the high-end art of book collecting.
Susan Liston
I bought this book long ago and read it then, but barely remembered it. A re-read was interesting because most of it takes place late 80s, early 90s, and what a different world. This couple's collecting of first editions began when one tried to find the other a hardback copy of War and Peace. Where do you start when you need to find a book? they ask. I answered, well, do you mean which website do you prefer or do you mean to take it back to, you begin by picking up or sitting down at your comput ...more
David Merrill
Nov 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
Hurricane Sandy seems to have put me off on some odd tangents in my reading. I bought this book at Milford Library's ongoing book salemonths ago. It jumped out at me I'm not sure why. I found it had been signed by the husband and wife authors, who live in Westport. I stuffed it in my backpack and shortly after switched to a smaller one and totally forgot about the book. I needed the bigger packpack to transport all my electronics (ipod; two laptops, an old clamshell for dvd viewing and my Macboo ...more
Oct 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
this was a cozy read even though i don't read the same things as the authors, for the most part they seem to really love modern classic white male writers and war, but learning about books and first editions was a lot of fun and i found a new mystery writer to add to my wishlist, i also learn about lovecrafts childhood, the writing of moby dick, the publication and writing of a christmas carol, about books made out of human skin, first and second states, some rare/used book lingo, and the pierpo ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Among the Gently Mad: Strategies and Perspectives for the Book Hunter in the 21st Century
  • Shelf Life: Romance, Mystery, Drama, and Other Page-Turning Adventures from a Year in a Book store
  • At Home with Books: How Booklovers Live with and Care for Their Libraries
  • Old Books, Rare Friends: Two Literary Sleuths and Their Shared Passion
  • Sixpence House: Lost in a Town of Books
  • The Book of Lost Books: An Incomplete History of All the Great Books You'll Never Read
  • A Pound of Paper: Confessions of a Book Addict
  • ABC for Book Collectors
  • Book by Book: Notes on Reading and Life
  • A Passion for Books: A Book Lover's Treasury of Stories, Essays, Humor, Love and Lists on Collecting, Reading, Borrowing, Lending, Caring for, and Appreciating Books
  • Living With Books
  • The Smithsonian Book of Books
  • The Most Beautiful Libraries in the World
  • Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading: Finding and Losing Myself in Books
  • The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop: A Memoir, a History
  • The Anatomy of Bibliomania
  • So Many Books: Reading and Publishing in an Age of Abundance
  • Libraries
Lawrence Goldstone is the author of fourteen books of both fiction and non-fiction. Six of those books were co-authored with his wife, Nancy, but they now write separately to save what is left of their dishes.
Goldstone's articles, reviews, and opinion pieces have appeared in, among other publications, the Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Miami Herald, Hartford Courant, and Berkshi