Surely, you know how one is never too broke to buy books. That no matter for how many months one has been unemployed, or has spent too much on their credit card repayments, there is always money for books. We all know this. However, because each day teaches me something new, I have learned today that there is indeed such a thing as being too broke for a book. Allow me to show you.
The description reads thus:
Joyce, James. Ulysses. Paris: Shakespeare and Co., 1922. Quarto, original blue-green wrappers. Custom half-leather box.And this piece of history, this gem of literary genius can be yours at a mere $60,000.
First edition, one of 750 printed on handmade paper (out of a total edition of 1000). A superb, unrestored copy in original wrappers. Very light soiling to wrappers, slight wear to spine, faint crease on front cover. A spectacular copy, most rare in this condition.
I don't know about you but I certainly had the breath squeezed out of me, I assure you. But it isn't all so obscenely unaffordable. For example, you could get a first edition of William Blake's Songs of Innocence and of Experience — no, no, not the engraved one. You'll need to first kill the owner to get it put up on sale. This wonderful, wonderful book is valued at $8000 only. It is also possible to get a copy of Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, both inscribed by Lewis Carroll at $15000. And if you'll browse the list, there are a good number more to die over. But what's got me really salivating is this:
This is why the book is called The Decisive Moment:
To me, photography is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event as well as of a precise organization of forms which give that event its proper expression.With a dust jacket specially designed by Henri Matisse, it doesn't cost much, my dears. Only $9000. And I am convinced that at least some of you love me enough for me.
No? I thought not. Sigh... back to the hunt for the sugar daddy... damn!
You should check out the book page - there are some gorgeous photographs you can have a look at. Henri Cartier-Bresson is quite simply the most amazing photographers that I've ever had the privilege of viewing/studying. And to be honest, I don't have the language to describe his photography and the effect it has on me and so I am not even going to try. You should go and check it out here, here, and here. Also, someone has taken the trouble to put The Decisive Moment online - you MUST check it out at least for a bit.
A quick aside but I wonder, you know, what it would be like to work in a niche part of the book trade like The Manhattan Rare Book Company. As a merchandiser for a chain store, I am not likely to ever hold a first edition like one of these in my hands nor am I likely to merchandise for books like these. I cannot imagine the research and the negotiations that would go into procuring each of these for the company catalog.
I've also wondered what it would be to work with a publisher like Taschen, Thames and Hudson, or Phaidon, doing only large format (quite often) high-gloss art and coffee-table books. Working with an author or taking on a series would take on a completely new dimension then. I think I'd end up spending most evenings in discussions with printers about paper and printing. Damn, I think it'd be exciting for a while! Though, to be fair, I'd finally want to get back to working on "regular books". I know I would.