Between the Covers
Merchantville, New Jersey, USA
I started working in new books when I was still a teenager. It was in the nation's first Borders "Superstore" (in Philadelphia) and authors would come through to give readings and sign books. It seemed a waste not to get books inscribed to you by a famous author, so I started picking them up and then learned about the signed and first edition market as a way to supplement my small collection with authors I could not meet. I got to know several of the Philadelphia area dealers and in 1996 made the switch from selling new books to selling antiquarian books and joined the well-established ABAA firm of Between the Covers.
We have several areas of specialty, but the one I'm most attached to at the moment is Books Into Film. I like it because, for all the obvious classics like Gone With the Wind or To Kill a Mockingbird, there are thousands of films made from books that have a less obvious connection. Sometimes a very good movie was made from a very obscure work of non-fiction, or teased out of a short story that no one has ever heard of. From a critical standpoint, it's fun to look at the transformation from one art form to another. From a commercial perspective it's a nice area to specialize in because films are a very accessible form of pop-culture -- there's a lot of title recognition when new collectors come to our booth at a book fair. And part of the fun is the hunt, for both collectors and dealers, because plenty of famous films have different titles than their original sources and there has been much less reference work in this area than you might think.
The usual advice is always a sound start: collect what you love, buy the very best condition you can afford, and if you're on the fence about a book it's better to purchase it than not, as you'll always regret the ones that got away. Even with a subject like books into film the category is so broad (many hundreds of books had been made into films before sound films even came along) that it helps to refine it (books made into films by favorite directors, plays made into films, books made into a certain type of film, etc.). It's also important for any collector not to be constrained by his or her own self-definitions -- it you like it, don't worry that it doesn't fit in your collection, just get it. Finally, learning is essential; either on your own or with dealers that you know and trust. -- Dan Gregory, Manager, Between the Covers
Some of the better or more interesting Books into Film from Between the Covers include:
This is a beautiful copy of the first edition of the first James Bond novel. As a book into film it's interesting because it actually was made into a 1950s teleplay years before Sean Connery every played James Bond. Then, once the film series became so popular, it was filmed as a bizarre Bond-spoof, watchable only for the all-star cast. Now the producers of the series are considering using it again, after all these years, as the basis for the next Bond film. £14,316.25
Inscribed first edition. This book is noteworthy for several reasons. First, although not one of his more famous books, the subject matter (barnstorm aviators) was important to the author because his brother was a pilot who actually died in a plane crash a few months after the book was published. For Faulkner collectors, genuine, signed trade editions are notoriously rare. We've had letters from Faulkner relatives, very amusing letters, talking about how hard it was to get him to sign books. This book in inscribed to a famous aviator, so that's a nice association. And finally, as a book into film it's a nice title because the film version, The Tarnished Angels, was made by Douglas Sirk, whose work has gone through a recent reappraisal because of the recent film Far from Heaven. £9,110.34
All the King's Men
Robert Penn Warren
Donald Davidson's annotated Review Copy. This is a great association copy between two of the most prominent and important Southern Fugitive writers. The book was the basis for a great Oscar-winning film, and it's being filmed again with an all star cast including Jude Law, Sean Penn, Anthony Hopkins, Kate Winslet, Patricia Clarkson, Mark Ruffalo, and James Gandolfini. £3,383.84