The Avid Reader April 2008
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In This Issue:

» The New Yorker & Visionaire

» Vogue & Paris Review

» Naughty Bunny?

» Shelf Talk: Book Ephemera

» March's Most Expensive Books Sold

» Notes from Avid Readers


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We read because we love ideas. We love sharing people's thoughts and dreams. We love to be inspired. Printed words can give us all of this - even when they are not bound in books. Magazines have helped shape cultural beliefs and trends for over a century. Admittedly, there is no shortage of celebrity drivel on the newsstands these days, but there have always been publications providing rich, thought-provoking content. Not to mention fabulous covers. It is not surprising that many such issues have become very collectable.

We thought it would be fun to dedicate an issue of the Avid Reader to valuable magazines listed on AbeBooks - many of which hearken back to seemingly more refined times. We hope you enjoy them as much as we do!

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The New Yorker, March 11 1933 Visionaire Issue 4
The New Yorker was launched in 1925 - but not, as its editor famously announced, for the ‘old lady in Dubuque.’ A bastion of sophisticated humour, brilliant fiction and unyielding liberalism ever since, its contributors over the years have included Theodore Winston Churchill, Simon Schama, Roald Dahl, Nick Hornby, Kenneth Tyan and Ogden Nash. The issue featured above cost a few pennies when it was released in 1933. Today, it is on the market for £115.00. Browse collectable issues of The New Yorker

Striding blithely past the boundaries of a traditional magazine, Visionaire is a self-described 'multi-format album.' Published since 1991, the limited edition issues are gorgeous, stunningly creative and instantly collectible. Each is based on a specific theme and presents work from top names in fashion and art: Tracey Emin, Mario Testino, David Bowie, Wolfgang Tillmans, Stella McCartney, Cindy Sherman, John Galliano, Alexander McQueen, Pedro Almodovar... Issue #4, Heaven, pictured above, can be purchased for £1,010.00. Browse collectable issues of Visionaire


From The New Yorker

From The Paris Review

Fierce Pajamas: An Anthology of Humor Writing Life Stories : Profiles from the New Yorker Wonderful Town : New York Stories from the New Yorker

Fierce Pajamas: An Anthology of Humor Writing

Life Stories: Profiles

Wonderful Town: New York Stories

The Paris Review Book of Planes, Trains, Elevators, and Waiting Rooms The Paris Review Book Of People With Problems The Paris Review Book of Heartbreak, Madness, Sex, Love, Betrayal

Planes, Trains, Elevators, and Waiting Rooms

People With Problems

Heartbreak, Madness, Sex, Love, Betrayal

Vogue, September 28, 1929 Paris Review Issue 164

Vogue really has evolved since its debut at the turn of the last century. Once a small New York society journal, it is now an international institution with editions published in almost 20 countries. This change is in some ways a shame - instead of glossy models, we would love to see some wonderful art deco designs tucked into our local magazine racks. The lovely 1929 example shown here is a mere £70.00.
Browse collectible issues of Vogue

With the aim of putting literature before criticism, The Paris Review stated at its launch: "...[it] should welcome these people into its pages: the good writers and good poets, the non-drumbeaters and non-axe-grinders. So long as they're good." AbeBooks is privileged to feature Paris Review interviews with some exceptional writers - Ernest Hemingway, William Burroughs and P.G. Wodehouse. David Eggers, PD James and Italo Calvino all contributed to the 2002 edition featured above, now worth £180.00.
Browse collectible issues of The Paris Review


Who's a naughty bunny?

Speaking of more innocent times... these stylishly playful Playboy covers from 1954 hardly look like top-shelf material. They are practically charming and have a reasonably accommodating value of £140.00 to £260.00. Browse collectible issues of Playboy

Playboy Magazine April 1954 Playboy Magazine December 1954 Playboy Magazine May 1954 Playboy Magazine June 1954
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Ephemera on AbeBooks
by Richard Davies - PR Manager; Resident Brit.

This month I'd like to talk about AbeBooks itself. As you know, we are all about books. However, we also allow our booksellers to offer paper-based ephemera for sale. The word is derived from Greek - it means transitory written and printed matter that is not intended to be retained or preserved. The original Greek meaning concerns things that lasted no more than a day.

On AbeBooks, ephemera means maps, letters, journals, comics and magazines - lots of magazines - but also birthday and Christmas cards. Some of these items - the letters and cards for instance - were truly meant to last a single day. Magazines are meant to last a short time because the next issue is always around the corner and they aren't built to last - unlike a hardcover book.

When the card was sent by the Prince and Princess of Wales, or the letter was written by Charles Dickens, then ephemera takes on a different perspective and a new value.

I began to understand the market for ephemera around three years ago after bumping into some people from The Paris Review at a book fair in New York. A few searches later, it was clear to me that certain copies of The Paris Review are highly collectable indeed. Under the stewardship of literary legend George Plimpton, The Paris Review gave countless budding writers national exposure. The literary journal is also famed for its amazing in-depth author interviews where authors seemed to be far more expressive than the writers we see today on the book tour circuits. Basically, each issue of The Paris Review is a unique piece of literary history - a time capsule of who was up-and-coming and the big-hitters of the day.

Even though early copies of literary journals like The Paris Review and Granta are in demand, the bestselling magazine on AbeBooks is actually National Geographic. Clearly collectors are filling holes in their collections thanks to booksellers who are listing old issues of this enduring magazine.

I'm far more of a newspaper person than a magazine person. I find the New Yorker long-winded but like reading cricket magazines. Before moving to Canada to work for AbeBooks, I gave away my collection of Wisden Cricket Monthly magazines from the early 1980s to a charity shop. Big mistake. Judging by the listings on AbeBooks, I gave away several hundred pounds worth of magazines.

So let's talk about Playboy. Not my cup of tea but if you have the very first issue then you have a true collectable treasure. Published in December 1953, the first issue is undated because Hugh Hefner did not know whether there would be a second. The centerfold was Marilyn Monroe and the rest is history. Today that issue is worth well over £2,500. Who says a magazine's lifespan is just a few days?

If you've got a special collection of ephemera, or tossed out something that would be valuable now, or own the first edition of Playboy then we'd love to hear from you...

More words about books have been scattered on Reading Copy, the AbeBooks Blog.


From the top, details from: The New York Review, June 19, 1965; The New York Review, May 21, 1949; The Paris Review, Issue #35.

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The Most Collectable Authors

Collectible Authors

Who is most wanted in the book world? We analysed sales data from 2007 and compiled an 'author collectibility index' based on sales of books priced more than £250. From the usual suspects to self-published authors, this list is a comprehensive survey of literary talent.

See the most wanted authors

100 Years of the Wind in the Willows

100 Years of The Wind in the Willows

The Wind in the Willows is much more than a story from a bygone age. It is, frankly, one of the finest children's books ever written. One hundred years after it was first published, Kenneth Grahame's masterpiece can be picked up and read to any young child, and it will have a mesmerising effect.

Motor on. (Poop-poop!)

40 Years of Booker Winners

Man Booker Winners

For each of the past 40 years, The Man Booker Prize has recognized the best novel written in English, from either the Commonwealth of Nations or the Republic of Ireland.

See all Booker Winners

Most Expensive books sold in March

  1. The First Six Books of the Elements of Euclid
    Euclid - £5,500
  2. Poems (1909-1925)
    T.S. Eliot - £4,264
  3. Out of the Silent Planet
    C.S. Lewis - £3,988
  4. An Historical and Descriptive Account of the Suspension Bridge...
    Thomas Telford - £3,820
  5. Merely Connect
    Tom Philips and Salman Rushdie - £3,675

See the whole list

Bestsellers for March

  1. The Ultimate Sales Letter
    Dan S. Kennedy
  2. Puggles
    Andre Calbert
  3. Ruby Holler
    Sharon Creech
  4. The Richer Way
    Julian Richer
  5. Angel Numbers
    Doreen Virtue

See the whole list on our homepage

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Talk to Us

Thoughts? Comments? Witty anecdotes? We'd love to hear them.

Let us know what's on your mind.

AbeBooks Wiki - Book Fairs

The AbeBooks Wiki could be the next best thing in the book world - with your help. The Book Fair section is already a fantastic resource. We invite you to make use of and add to it, and the rest of the wiki, as often as possible.

Visit and edit the Wiki.


Notes from Avid Readers

We very much want to thank everyone who wrote in regarding Charles Dills' search for a lost childhood copy of Stung Again. The precise edition unfortunately still eludes us, but the search continues! Here are a few book-reunion stories from you:

My mother was given a book, rather like "Mrs. Beetons Household management" when she was first married called "Everything within" which was published by the "News Chronicle" It was about the size of a largish paperback except that it was about four inches thick. It had a blue linen-covered hardback and contained...everything...well almost everything!

Growing up during World War 2 my sister and I used to giggle over the letters "from a shy young swain" to the object of his desire and at the flurry of suitable replies, from acceptance to rejection to irate letters from the girl's father, practically threatening him with a good whipping if he persisted! When our Mum was out (Dad was in the Navy) we used to turn to the 'sweets' chapter and make fudge or toffee. Sweets were rationed at 12 oz per month so we were desperate!

Over the years, as the book became more & more tattered, the title entered into the family lexicon. Eventually the book was "loaned" to a neighbor who lost it. I had been looking all over to replace it and actually found two copies on Ebay, but they weren't the exact issue I remembered and they were priced at around $50. Then five years ago I had returned to England with some Russian friends and was showing them around London. We walked from our hotel to Notting Hill and since we were so close, extended our walk to the Portobello Market. There on a second hand book stall was a copy of my book. Not only that but it was in absolutely mint condition. I asked the price and was told one pound - 'unless you want to pay more.' A pound at that time was worth about $1.75, so I walked off with my prize in high good humor.


I looked for a book that I first read in 5th grade. I won't say how long ago that was, but sufficient to say that I am well over the age of consent. Of course, it is out of print but I was able to find a copy through AbeBooks. the book is called "The Shy Stegosaurus of Cricket Creek", copyrighted in 1955, written by Evelyn Sibley Lampman. I still have my original copy, but needless to say it is in sad disrepair. Because of moving several times, some of the pages have been lost. That is why I was so happy to find it again. I have told the story to my grandkids who are now grown, so now I can start on my great-grands...

The first book I ever read was a charming children's book titled "Brighty of the Grand Canyon". My 3rd grade teacher put it into my hands one Friday and by Sunday night I was hooked on reading. Years later I became a teacher in the same school district. My middle school library was discarding books that weren't being checked out often enough and I felt compelled to rescue them all. To my delight, one was Brighty, with the school district name stamped inside! Red and hardcover, just as I remembered. What a delightful find and permanent addition to my home library!

My mother had a book of ballet photos from the 30s and 40s that I remembered pouring over as a child- When she passed away, I looked for the book, but she apparently had given it away. A friend gave me the ABE web address and not knowing the photographer I searched for something that seemed likely and sent for the likeliest one and amazingly it was a copy of the same book. It wasn't in quite as good shape as my mother's had been but it had an added bonus of old clippings of ballet reviews tucked into the pages.

"The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page."   - AUGUSTINE

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