This book is a fine starter's guide for any book collector. It may be aimed at the Observer's book person but gives a comprehensive overview of just about every aspect of book collecting. Section A is for Observer's collectors, what to look for - rarities, faults, dust jacket faults and oddities. In section B, Richard discusses bookshops and booksellers, face to face and Internet auctions, book club auctions and sales, jumble sales, church fetes, boot sales, charity shops, book and antique fairs, specialist advertising and book scouts (or 'runners' as they're known in Australia). In Section C the author moves on to the Internet - book sites (such as ABE), auction sites, web sites and 'paying up'. Readers are taken through the steps and etiquette of each subject with countless priceless tips thrown in along the way. Did you know research has shown that the highest success rate for auction sales on eBay are those finishing on Sunday night? You'll learn the simple facts of Paypal, eBay and various other online entities. Section D moves onto displaying your books, cleaning and repairing books and jackets. The authors many throw-away comments ensure the readers know they're getting the good word from someone who knows whats what.
The text is accompanied all the way though by high definition colour photos - of shops, people, all aspects of the subjects discussed. For Observer's collectors, the finely reproduced photos of all known rare editions will be worth the price of this book. These photos are almost three-dimensional, in that they've been photographed so as to show the spine and cover. Full details - dates, codes and the like - of these rare editions are given at the rear of the book, with pages in different thus easy to find pastel shades. Among the other contents are letters and comments from collectors and others involved with Observer's books.
It would be remiss of me not to find a fault or two. Firstly, there is no ISBN displayed - that I can find. I can't believe the publisher wouldn't have obtained an ISBN, as this ensures a great number of possible sales to libraries and institutions. Secondly, the inclusion of letters is a good idea, but I was left with a peculiar taste in my mouth upon reading one comment where a collector boasts of talking a seller down on a rare Observer's - from GBP3.50 to 2.50. For a book worth many times more than the original asking price, the reasonable act would have been to have paid up and counted your blessings for a bargain. Finally, I'd suggest that a CD of the photos be sold separately, to enable the finer details to be more readily examined.
Overall, this book can't fail to rate as one of the best books ever produced for the non-professional book collector; it does, after all, fit in ones top pocket or purse. The professional will find it indispensable as well. For the Observer's collector, it will be within reach at all times. It is, after all, the only new book Ive purchased (thanks, Geoff T) in the past year, and the only one Ive read, cover to cover, in one sitting, within a week of it arriving in my letter box. That deserves a 5-star rating, doesnt it?
Other reviews welcome.
JT (OPSCS 076) 2.04#
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