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Flowers for Algernon author Daniel Keyes dies at 86

Daniel Keyes, the author of Flowers for Algernon, died on Sunday at the age of 86. Flowers for Algernon was published in 1966 but it originally appeared as a short story in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction in 1959.

Flowers for Algernon is a bitter-sweet story about Charlie Gordon (32 and working in a bakery), who undergoes an experimental surgery to increase his intelligence. Keyes won a Hugo Award for best short story in 1960, and a Nebula Award in 1966 for best novel. Cliff Robertson and Claire Bloom starred in the 1968 movie adaptation (called Charly), which won an Academy Award.

Keyes taught at Ohio University and wrote a number of other books including The Fifth Sally, The Touch, The Minds of Billy Milligan and Unveiling Claudia. His memoir is called Algernon, Charlie, and I: A Writer’s Journey. The power of the mind often featured in his writing.

“Here was a story which struck me so forcefully that I was actually lost in admiration . . . for the delicacy of his feeling, for the skill with which he handled the remarkable tour de force involved in his telling the story,” wrote Isaac Asimov about Flowers for Algernon.

With Flowers of Algernon being one of the key novels of the 1960s, first editions are collectible particularly if they have been signed.

#ThisBook campaign seeks powerful female authors


The Year of Reading Women (or, 2014, as some of you may know it) just keeps getting better. Last month the folks over at Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction launched #ThisBook, an exciting social media campaign to find the novels written by women that have most impacted readers. Nineteen influential women kicked off the #ThisBook conversation and shared the book by a woman that most impacted, shaped or changed their life. To make it an even 20, I’ve added my pick at the end.

Baroness Amos – Beloved by Toni Morrison

Zawe Ashton – The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

Mary Beard – Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brönte

Edith Bowman – The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

Saffron Burrows – I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

Shami Chakrabarti – To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Gwen Christie – I Capture The Castle by Dodie Smith

Grace Dent – The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford

Katherine Grainger – Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate Atkinson

Tanni Grey Thompson – Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Martha Lane Fox – Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell

Caitlin Moran – Twopence to Cross the Mersey by Helen Forrester

Kate MosseWuthering Heights by Emily Brönte

Dawn O’Porter – Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson

Susanna Reid – We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver

Jennifer Saunders – Dust by Patricia Cornwell

Sharleen Spiteri - To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Sandi Toksvig – Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons

Joanna Trollope - The Towers of Trebizond by Rose Macaulay

And lastly, my vote is for Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. But really, how can I pick just one? I’d also add Paradise by Toni Morrison, The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls and The Color Purple by Alice Walker.

Tweet using #ThisBook to take part and cast your vote for the book (by a woman) that most impacted, shaped or changed your life. The Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction team will collect your votes and reveal a Top 20 list in July.

25 Years On: Rare Photographs of Tiananmen Square Protests Go on Sale

Twenty five years after the Tiananmen Square massacre, a remarkable collection of photographs documenting the events surrounding the government crackdown on pro-democracy protesters has been listed for sale on AbeBooks.com.

Sixty-five photographs from the student-led protests in Beijing are for sale from Upper Valley Books & Paper in Ascutney, Vermont, for $6,500. The collection includes 12 black and white photographs, and 53 color photographs.

The images were taken between late April and June 1989. The photographer, or photographers, are unknown. The photographs were formerly the property of Wang Dan, one of the student leaders of the pro-democracy movement. Photographs and other materials relating to the Tiananmen protests have been suppressed by the Chinese government.

These photos shows marches, rallies, banners, hand-made posters, signs and cartoons, as well as memorials to the dead after the protests were crushed by the Chinese government on June 3 and 4.

“Most of these photographs were printed in December 1990, and stamped thus, long after the protest movement was smothered,” John Waite of Upper Valley Books & Paper wrote in an email. “This indicates the film likely was smuggled out of China and later processed in the US or another English-speaking nation.”

The protests began in April following the death of Hu Yaobang, a leading proponent within the Chinese Communist Party for reform.

Wang Dang was arrested and held without trial for nearly two years. After his trial, he served another two years in prison before being expelled from China. He later studied at Harvard and now lives in the United States.

The images can be divided into four general categories:

  • Marches and gatherings of protesters in Tiananmen Square;
  • Posters, banners, signs, cartoons, and open letters displayed by the protesters;
  • Protesters taking action against military or police vehicles prior to the crackdown on June 4;
  • Marches and demonstrations by students, teachers, and government employees in the city of Hefei (Anhui Province) shortly after the crackdown in Beijing.

There is also one black and white press photo of Wang Dan addressing the crowd in Tiananmen Square.

The hand-made banners document student groups from various universities and technical schools. The posters, banners, signs and cartoons show a range of political expressions and demands made by the student groups. These particular images are rare examples of the enormous amount of political ephemera generated by the various  protest groups for the demonstrations.

The actions taken by protesters, either to defend themselves or provoke authorities, are not well-known in the West due to the Chinese government’s suppression of documentation relating to the events. Photographic evidence that some protesters acted violently and the varied nature of the actual politics of the protest groups is rare.

The crackdown by the government began on the night of 3 June with lethal violence against civilians in various locations around the city. Hundreds of protesters died that evening even before soldiers began to clear Tiananmen Square in the early hours of 4 June. The collection includes several photos of armored personnel carriers burning amid crowds of people, and images of an armored personnel carrier that has been commandeered by protesters.

By 5 June, the news of the events had spread to the West and the media began trying to piece together the events of the previous 48 hours.

Crowds and burned vehicles

Coming soon, the 2014 Twin Cities Antiquarian & Rare Book Fair

Twin Cities Antiquarian & Rare Book Fair is coming up soon. It takes place on June 27 and 28 in the Progress Center at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds, and AbeBooks.com is proud to support the event. More than 50 booksellers will be offering antiquarian, fine, and rare books covering many subjects and genres. Visitors will be treated to first editions, fine bindings, vintage books, ephemera, and maps.

Legendary bookseller Ken Sanders from Salt Lake City will be speaking at the fair on Friday evening at 6pm. Sanders is much more than a seller of rare books, he is also the enemy of book thieves. His efforts to capture John Charles Gilkey were documented in the book, The Man Who Loved Books Too Much by Allison Hoover Bartlett. His talk will be worth the admission alone.

On Saturday, visitors can have up to four books from their own collection evaluated by an expert. There will also be other speakers and the chance to win a $25 gift certificate by showing your book trivia knowledge.

“Aside from the rare books, there are also a good number of very affordable reading books,” said Rob Rulon-Miller, one of the Fair’s past organisers. Rulon-Miller Books is based in St Paul, Minnesota. “You will see many local history books and books about Minnesota. We partner with the Minnesota Historical Society with dealers submitting book lists to the society. I’ve seen book dealers come from as far away as Los Angeles to look for stock.”

Booksellers who are exhibiting include Midway Used & Rare Books from St. Paul, MN, David Christenson from Minneapolis, MN, and Steve Thorson from Austin, MN, as well as Sanders and Rulon-Miller.

  • Friday, June 27, 3pm to 8pm, $7 (which also includes admission on Saturday)
  • Saturday, June 28, 10am to 4pm, $5
  • Children 12 and under have free admission
  • High school and college students have free admission on Saturday with school ID

Visit the event’s website for more details. Dealers can still sign up for a booth at the event and anyone interested should contact Valerie Urban at valerie@urbanantiquaria.com

Meet Heather O’Donnell from Honey and Wax Booksellers

Enjoy this video of Heather O’Donnell from Honey and Wax Booksellers in Brooklyn. A former college teacher, Heather worked at Bauman Rare Books before starting her own bookselling business. She offers some beautiful rare books, including this copy of The Waves by Virginia Woolf and this copy of Thank You – You’re Welcome by Louis Slobodkin.

Bettie Page and the pin-up photography of Bunny Yeager

Bunny Yeager's Beautiful BacksidesBunny Yeager – the pin-up model turned pin-up photographer – died earlier this week at the age of 85. Yeager is particularly famous for her work with Bettie Page, whose career she helped to launch.

When she was 17 her family moved to Florida and she began working as a model. In 1953 she began taking photography night classes. For an assignment, she took photos of friends dressed in leopard-print swimsuits and one of her images was used on the cover of Eye magazine, kick-starting her professional career behind the camera.

She also took the still images of Bond girl Ursula Andress, in a cream bikini, in the 1962 007 movie Dr. No. Yeager’s peak came in the 1950s and 1960s.

More than 20 books of her photography were published between the mid-1960s to 2012 ranging from instructional guides for glamour snappers to glossy modern tributes.

Someone who is serious about Yeager’s work with Bettie Page can pick up this contact sheet for $6,000.

Books by and about Bunny Yeager

100 Girls by Bunny Yeager

How I Photograph Myself by Bunny Yeager

How I Photograph Nudes by Bunny Yeager

Camera in the Caribbean by Bunny Yeager

How to Photograph the Female Figure by Bunny Yeager

Bunny Yeager’s Photo Studies by Bunny Yeager

The Art of Glamour Photography by Bunny Yeager

Camera in Jamaica by Bunny Yeager

Bunny Yeager’s Bikini Girls of the 1950s

Bunny Yeager’s Flirts of the Fifties

Bunny Yeager’s Darkroom: Pin-up Photography’s Golden Era by Petra Mason

“in Wonderland” – a library of book titles inspired by Lewis Carroll

A signed copy of P.G. Wodehouse’s Barmy in Wonderland has sold for $1,267 (around £750) on AbeBooks.com. The book is a first edition published in April 1952 and has been signed by the author to his bibliographer, David Jasen, “To David, from Plum, P. G. Wodehouse”.  The novel was published as Angel Cake in the US a month after the UK edition.

The main character of Barmy in Wonderland is Cyril ‘Barmy’ Fotheringay-Phipps, who makes appearances in several Jeeves stories, and the book details his misadventures in the world of theatre. Wodehouse adapted Barmy in Wonderland from a play, The Butter and Egg Man, by George S. Kaufman.

Although I scan our most expensive sales on a daily basis, this one jumped out because of the book’s title. I wondered how many books have the words ‘in Wonderland‘ in their title? The answer is many – Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland has inspired countless books. Clearly, Alice is not alone in visiting Wonderland. Here is a brief selection of ‘in Wonderland’ titles (although I have decided not to list “in Wonderland” erotica).

Shadows in Wonderland: A Hospital Odyssey by Colin Ludlow

Ali in Wonderland by Ali Wentworth

Adventures in Wonderland: A Decade of Club Culture by Sheryl Garratt

Lights Out in Wonderland by DBC Pierre

Pinocchio’s Adventures in Wonderland by Collodi

Cubby in Wonderland by Frances Joyce Farnsworth

Albert in Wonderland by Mary Agnes Connelly Ryan

Harris in Wonderland by Philip Reid

Yankees in Wonderland by Frank Woodford

An Outlaw in Wonderland by Lori Austin

Mr Tompkins in Wonderland by George Gamow

The Engineer in Wonderland : The 1966-67 Royal Institution Christmas Lectures by E.R. Laithwaite

Elvis in Wonderland by Bob Jope

Frankie in Wonderland: With Apologies to Lewis Carroll, the Originator and Pre-Historian of the New Deal by A. Tory

Copy of first Playboy Magazine sells for $2,000

A copy of the first ever Playboy Magazine, published in December 1953, has sold for $2,000 on AbeBooks.com. Aside from being a landmark moment in popular culture, the magazine famously features Marilyn Monroe on the cover (clothed) and on the centerfold (naked) against a red velvet background.

This issue is undated and cost 50 cents at the time. Apparently 53,991 copies were printed. The magazine had been produced by Hugh Hefner from his kitchen.

This is the only time that I have heard of a copy of the first Playboy for sale on AbeBooks since I joined in 2005, and it’s by far the most expensive copy of the magazine to sell through this marketplace. I think $2,000 might be a bargain.

Remembering Farley Mowat

Farley Mowat, the Canadian author, died last Wednesday, at the age of 92. I had not heard of him before moving to Canada but now I feel sad that Canada has lost one of its great writers of modern times. I have read three of his books – Cry Wolf, read aloud as the book at bedtime for my oldest daughter, The Desperate People (the follow up to People of the Deer) and A Whale for the Killing. All three are remarkable books with the capacity to make the reader think about nature.

How many authors have had their work debated in Parliament? Not many. People of the Deer was a Canadian sensation and raised awareness about the plight of the aboriginal people in this country. Cry Wolf is simply a beautiful book that appeals to children – it was the first piece of non-fiction I ever read to my daughter at bedtime and we were both fascinated by his stories of the wilderness.

I read a A Whale for the Killing just last year. It’s a stunning account of a trapped whale in Newfoundland and the cruelty it is subjected to. Everyone should read it. Mowat and his wife effectively sacrificed their home and their life in Newfoundland in order to try and save the whale. It’s a book that will make you very, very sad.

There is much to read about Mowat himself since his death, not all of it positive.

Signed copies of Mowat’s books are now becoming rather scarce.

The Best Books from British Columbia

The Sky is Falling by Kit PearsonBritish Columbia’s top authors, poets, and illustrators were honored this past weekend at the Lieutenant Governor’s BC Book Prizes Gala in Vancouver, BC.  Established in 1985, the BC Book Prizes consists of seven annual prizes, including prizes for fiction, poetry, and children’s literature. AbeBooks is a proud sponsor of the Hubert Evans Non-Fiction Prize.

This year’s big prize, the Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Literary Excellence, was awarded to beloved children’s author Kit Pearson.

In a career spanning three decades, Kit Pearson has demonstrated mastery in that most traditional of genres, the novel for young readers. In both her fantasies and her historical fiction she looks to the past: to Canada’s war guests, to the War of 1812, to Alberta in 1949, and to Mayne Island in the 1930s. She sees children as those residents of the past who are largely overlooked in the story of where we have come from.

- Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Literary Excellence jury

2014′s BC Book Prizes winners include CBC celebrity Grant Lawrence. David Stouck’s biography of architect Arthur Erickson took home two awards. Keep reading for the the complete list of prizes and winners.

BC Book Prizes

Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize: Anatomy of a Girl Gang by Ashley Little

Hubert Evans Non-Fiction Prize: Arthur Erickson: An Architect’s Life by David Stouck

Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize: The Place of Scraps by Jordan Abel

Roderick Haig-Brown Regional Prize: Arthur Erickson: An Architect’s Life by David Stouck

Sheila A. Egoff Children’s Literature Prize: The New Normal by Ashley Little

Christie Harris Illustrated Children’s Literature Prize: How To, illustrated by Julie Morstad

Bill Duthie Booksellers’ Choice Award: The Lonely End of the Rink: Confessions of a Reluctant Goalie by Grant Lawrence

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