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Used and Rare: Travels in the Book World

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  1,522 ratings  ·  181 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)
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Average rating 3.94  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,522 ratings  ·  181 reviews

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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, non-fiction, books
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
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
Camelia Rose
May 06, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the early 90s, Nancy Goldstone bought a nice used copy of War and Peace for her husband Lawrence as a birthday gift, and it set the couple onto an unexpected, delightful and expensive journey of book collecting.

Part memoir and part travel book, I enjoyed this little book very much--funny anecdotes of writers and books, colorful shop owners and antique book dealers (some friendly, some snobbish and others downright rude), even the book collecting jargons.

The book collecting described in the bo
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: books, 1990s
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
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
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: non-fiction, 2017, library
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
Aug 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
If you love books then following this couple from 20+ years ago into the used and rare book collecting world is a treat to read. Their journey stumbling into book collecting becomes the reader's journey as they learn the fickle world of rare bookshops, first editions, dealers, collectors, auctions, and beyond. A simple, fast read - you will get the book collecting bug reading this!! (Makes one wonder just how many books they have today after two decades since it was published)
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
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
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: non-fiction, owned
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.

Jun 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
This is an enjoyable short read about the perils of book buying, something I need to be reminded of as I have discovered eBay and the many book treasures I think I can't live without. Like the Goldbergs, I've started buying books I love, books I want hardbacks to exchange for the paperbacks on my shelves. But book lovers beware! Before you know it, you too may be purchasing first editions as you get sucked in the fascinating world of collecting. I would say this is a memoir-type read, not a seri ...more
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.
Amanda Alice
Jan 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, 2019
I enjoyed the anecdotes of their first experiences in the world of book collecting. A good book for book people.
Lulu Cannici
Interesting tidbits

What always peaks my interest is people who love books almost to the point of obsession. So I began this read by thinking that it was going to be a journey into great searches for great reads. There were some interesting bits and pieces throughout the book and if you are thinking about embarking on becoming a book collector this might be a good jumping off point. You can learn through some mistakes they made plus learn from the booksellers that they encountered in their journe
Feb 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
Such fun, and what an insightful look at the world of book collecting.
Mar 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: finished, 2011
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
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.
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.
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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

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