AbeBooks' Reading Copy

AbeBooks book blog

Advanced Search Browse Books Rare Books Textbooks
Advanced Search

How Well Do You Know Presidential Hairlines?

There’s been a lot of talk lately about a certain politician’s hair. In fact, his unique hairstyle has spawned much debate, discussion, slideshows, memes – the list goes on. With the excitement of the upcoming US presidential election, we’ve been looking at a lot of biographies about current and past presidents and we noticed something interesting. Almost every president has a unique and identifying hairstyle!

We’ve selected 20 presidential hairlines from book covers written about some of the most important men in US history. Can you guess the president by their hairline? Share your answers in the comments below.




2016 Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar contest now open

2015 Colorado Antiquarian Seminar attendees

Are you thinking of becoming a rare bookseller? Or have you just started to sell collectible books? The Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar is a week-long educational event held in Colorado Springs in July, 2016 for booksellers, librarians and collectors that offers expert discussion about rare books.

This is your opportunity to enter for a chance to win admission to attend the event, including instructional materials, breakfasts and lunches, and accommodations. There will be two lucky winners. Each prize package is worth U.S. $1,646.00. Transportation to and from the event is not included.

The Book Seminar provides an opportunity for leading specialists to share their expertise and experience in a comprehensive survey of the rare book market, both antiquarian and modern. Basic procedures and problems are discussed both formally and informally through a series of lectures, discussions, demonstrations and practical hands-on workshops with emphasis on the Internet, computers and Internet bookselling, as well as traditional methods. Read our interview with 2011 contest winners, Underground Books.

How to Enter:

Don’t miss out on this chance to win admission to attend the Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar, including instructional materials, breakfasts and lunches, and accommodations. To enter for a chance to win this prize package, with a value of U.S. $1,646.00, simply send an email with your name, hometown and state or province to contests@abebooks.com and complete the following sentence: “The best thing about bookselling is…”

We may use your submission in a feature about rare bookselling on AbeBooks.com.

Don’t forget to include your name, hometown and state or province in the email, and include “Colorado Book Seminar” in the subject line. The contest ends May 5, 2016. The two winners will be selected in a random draw (the odds of being drawn are dependent upon the number of eligible entries received) and will have to answer a skill-testing question.

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Limit one entry per person and e-mail address. This contest is open to legal residents of the United States (excluding its territories and possessions) and Canada (excluding Quebec), and entrants must be the older of 18 years old or the age of majority in their province or state of residence. See Official Rules for more details

Happy 100th Birthday Beverly Cleary!

Beloved children’s author Beverly Cleary turns 100 today!  She’s sold millions of books, won several awards, has statues of her best know characters in a park in Portland, has an elementary school named after her and has written not one but two memoirs. Cleary’s most loved characters, Ramona Quimby, Henry Huggins, Beezus, Ribsy and little Ralph S. Mouse have left an indelible impact on all who have read her books.

In honor of this special day, here are some lovely signed books, first editions and other unique items from one of our favorite authors.


Henry Huggins by Beverly Cleary. Illustrated by Louis Darling. Signed by author, first edition. 1950


Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary. Signed, first edition copy, printed in 1983.


Henry and Beezus by Beverley Cleary. First edition, printed in 1952


Henry and the Club House by Beverly Cleary. Illustrated by Louis Darling. First edition, 1962


Ramona Quimby, Age 8 by Beverly Cleary, illustrated by Alan Tiegreen. First edition, 1981


Emily’s Runaway Imagination by Beverly Cleary, illustrated by Beth and Joe Krush. First edition, 1961


Runaway Ralph by Beverly Cleary, illustrated by Louis Darling. First edition, 1970


Henry and Ribsy by Beverly Cleary, illustrated by Thelma Lambert. First edition, 1979


My Own Two Feet: A Memoir by Beverly Cleary


A Girl From Yamhill: A Memoir by Beverly Cleary

An Introduction to Shakespeare for Kids

April 2016 marks the 400th anniversary of the death of Shakespeare. Shakespeare’s work is among the most widely read and studied. But does his work resonate with kids? The language can be difficult to understand and some passages are dense. Most children probably don’t ask for a Shakespeare soliloquy for their bed-time story.

Fortunately, there are a number of books written specifically for children to introduce them to the world of Shakespeare. From beautifully illustrated versions to abridged stories using simplified language, the following Shakespeare books will help children form a lifelong love for the Bard.


Illustrated Stories from Shakespeare
This is a wonderful collection of retellings of six of William Shakespeare’s best-loved plays – a perfect mix of comedy, tragedy, magic and romance – retold for younger readers.  Contains A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Hamlet, Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, The Tempest and Twelfth Night.


Tales from Shakespeare by Charles & Mary Lamb
The Tales from Shakespeare by Charles and Mary Lamb were written to be an ‘introduction to the study of Shakespeare’, but are much more entertaining than that. All of Shakespeare’s best-loved tales, comic and tragic, are retold in a clear and robust style, and their literary quality has made them popular and sought-after ever since their first publication in 1807. This edition contains the delightful pen-and-ink drawings of Arthur Rackham.


How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare by Ken Ludwig
To know some Shakespeare provides a head start in life. His plays are among the great bedrocks of Western civilization and contain the finest writing of the past 450 years. Many of the best novels, plays, poems, and films in the English language produced since Shakespeare’s death in 1616—from  Pride and Prejudice to  The Godfather—are heavily influenced by Shakespeare’s stories, characters, language, and themes. In  How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare, acclaimed playwright Ken Ludwig provides the tools you need to inspire an understanding, and a love, of Shakespeare’s works in your children, and to have fun together along the way.


Leon Garfield’s Shakespeare Stories
How to introduce kids to Shakespeare—not just to the stories behind the plays but to the richness of his language and the depth of his characters. That’s the challenge that Leon Garfield, a wonderful children’s book writer, undertook to meet in his monumental and delightful Shakespeare Stories. Here are twenty-one of the Bard’s plays, presented in what is not a series of dry retellings, but rather a refashioning of the dramas as stories, in a way that remains true to the essential spirit of the original versions. Garfield has captured all the richness of character, plot, mood, and setting in Shakespeare’s works without resorting to simplification.


Bard of Avon: The Story of William Shakespeare by Diane Stanley & Peter Vennema
William Shakespeare was the son of a glove maker, a small-town boy with a grammar school education. Yet he grew up to become the greatest English-speaking playwright in the world. Bard of Avon: The Story of William Shakespeare is both his story and that of a great art rediscovered in the modern world.


Shakespeare’s Stories for Young Readers by E. Nesbit
Twelve of Shakespeare’s greatest tales come to life in this entertaining collection of short, lively stories specially adapted for young readers. Capturing the vital events and using some of the original wording, the stories serve as a perfect introduction to Shakespeare for preteens and as literate refreshers for older folks.


The Shakespeare Book (Big Ideas Simply Explained)
Learn more about the work of William Shakespeare with The Shakespeare Book, packed full of infographics, inspirational quotes, character guides, and more bonus material that illuminates the bard’s work, from Shakespeare plays like Twelfth Night, Julius Caesar, Hamlet, and As You Like It, to his best-loved sonnets, and even obscure lost works. Every comedy, tragedy, history, and poem of Shakespeare’s is collected here in this comprehensive guide.


Mothello: A High-Flying Introduction to Shakespeare for Kids by Dilan MacHardy
The first in a series of Shakespeare adaptations casting the Bard’s epic characters as animals (ROMEOW & JULICAT, KING DEER, LAMBLET…and more to follow), Mothello translates the complexities of Shakespeare, beginning in simple English and gradually introducing the full weight of the text. By using the literary convention of the backstory, the added narrative seeks to explain why Mothello behaved the way he did, why he became capable of murder, betraying his beloved Desdemona and eventually, himself. The hope is that young readers will relate more to animal characters and familiar animal behavior to make them want to persevere and be challenged by one of the greatest literary figures of all time.


Hamlet (Shakespeare Stories) by Andrew Matthews
Murder most foul…An action-packed retelling of Shakespeare’s dark tale of revenge and murder. With notes on Shakespeare and the Globe Theatre, and Revenge in Hamlet.


Shakespeare on Toast by Ben Crystal
Actor and author Ben Crystal brings the bright words and colorful characters of the world’s greatest hack writer brilliantly to life, handing over the key to William Shakespeare’s plays, unlocking the so-called difficult bits and, astonishingly, finding Shakespeare’s own voice in among the poetry. Told in five fascinating acts, Shakespeare on Toast sweeps the cobwebs from the Bard – from his language, his life, his time – revealing both the man and his work to be relevant, accessible, and full of beans.

Shakespeare First Folio discovered on Scottish island

A Shakespeare First Folio, one of the world’s great rare books, has been found in a stately home on the Scottish island of Bute, reports the BBC. Only 230 copies of the First Folio, which contains Shakespeare’s plays, are known to exist. The last copy to be found was discovered in 2014 in a library in St Omer in France.

Emma Smith, professor of Shakespeare studies at Oxford University, said her first reaction on being told the stately home was claiming to have an original First Folio was: “Like hell they have.”

But when she inspected the three-volume book she found it was authentic.

“We’ve found a First Folio that we didn’t know existed,” said Prof Smith.

It is believed the book was bought by the third Marquess of Bute, an antiquarian and collector, who died in 1900.

Bookseller Q&A: Yesterday’s Muse

Jonathan Smalter in front of his bookstore, Yesterday's Muse.

Jonathan Smalter in front of his bookstore, Yesterday’s Muse.

Located in Webster, New York, AbeBooks bookseller Yesterday’s Muse offers a everything from American and military history books, to literature and finely illustrated editions. Owner Jonathan Smalter is a member of the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America (ABAA), the association that represents the nation’s finest booksellers. He is a 2011 graduate of the Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar (CABS), and has served as co-organizer of the annual Rochester (NY) Antiquarian Book Fair since 2013. With over over fifteen years of experience in the book industry, we were eager to ask Jonathan a few questions about his trade.

AbeBooks: How did you become a bookseller?

Jonathan: I began working at a used bookstore when I was 17, and began selling books online in a limited capacity during college. Upon graduating, I pursued this full time, and have done so ever since. This year will mark the point at which I can say that I have been selling books professionally for half my life (I will be 34 in May). I opened my ‘brick & mortar’ shop in December of 2008.

AbeBooks: What do you love most about selling books?

Jonathan: I enjoy book selling because every day is different, and I get to learn new things constantly. Researching unusual and scarce material is a challenge, and meeting fellow bibliophiles (both customers and colleagues), who always seem willing – sometimes eager – to share their knowledge, keeps life interesting.

AbeBooks: What is the most prized item in your inventory? Why?

Jonathan: Currently I own a second American edition of Cotton Mather’s Magnalia Christi Americana, which is significant for two reasons: 1) This particular copy was owned by four generations of the Beecher-Stowe family (Lyman Beecher; Harriet Beecher-Stowe and her husband [the latter jotted marginal notes on one page]; and their son and grandson). 2) This specific copy of the book is mentioned in Harriet Beecher-Stowe’s ‘Poganuc People’: “It was a happy hour when [father] brought home and set up in his book-case Cotton Mather’s Magnalia, in a new edition of two volumes.” The work itself is an important one, but what I love most is describing the process of researching the provenance.

Yesterday's Muse

Cotton Mather’s Magnalia Christi Americana, owned by four generations of the Beecher-Stowe family.

AbeBooks: What’s the one book you covet most? Why?

Jonathan: Choosing one is difficult, so I’ll cheat and give you two answers. The first is a signed copy of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, in the limited edition with Johns-Manville Quinterra (asbestos) boards. The second, which is my favorite book, I have had in the first edition, signed by the author: The Dispossessed by Ursula K. LeGuin. This was early in my career, when keeping books for myself was less advisable, so I no longer have it. I think perhaps I covet the latter more because I let it get away once. Both are available, but I would prefer to find them ‘in the field’ if I am going to add them to my personal collection… so the hunt continues.

AbeBooks: What’s the oddest thing you’ve found in a book?

Jonathan: While not the oddest single object taken by itself, I thought the Ku Klux Klan pamphlet I found laid into a copy of the Bible was among the interfoliata more worthy of remark. I kept them together initially, with note on the somewhat troubling juxtaposition included in my description. Recently, though, a customer purchased the Bible and requested that the pamphlet not be included with his order.

AbeBooks: What’s your most memorable moment as a bookseller?

Jonathan: While I cannot properly call it a single moment, I think attending the Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar in 2011 was a pivotal event in my career. Since then I have become a member of the ABAA, established more professional relationships, made more friends in the trade, and pursued a wider range of activities related to the book trade. This year will be my first year organizing the Rochester Antiquarian Book Fair, and I am also president of the Rochester Bibliophile Society. I think all these accomplishments can trace their roots back to the seminar in Colorado.

AbeBooks: And of course, what’s your favorite book?

Jonathan: The Dispossessed by Ursula K. LeGuin. It is among a very few books I have read more than twice.

Defying the hangman – rare ‘Carter the Great’ magic poster goes on sale

Carter the Great poster offered for sale by Colophon Books

A rare magic poster promoting ‘Carter the Great’ has gone on sale on AbeBooks priced at £3,100 / approximately $4,541. Charles Joseph Carter (1874-1936) was an American stage magician nicknamed Carter the Great, who tried journalism and law before switching to magic where he became a household name and toured the world.  A fictionalized account of Carter’s life has been told in Carter Beats the Devil by Glen David Gold, published in 2001.

This beautiful poster is a prime example of the dramatic marketing used to promote stage magic during its golden age in the 1920s.  Born in San Francisco, the highlight of Carter’s stage act was his ‘cheating the gallows’ trick where the shrouded magician would vanish as he dropped at the end of a hangman’s noose.

The poster is offered for sale by Colophon Books from Leek in the United Kingdom.

Learn more

Save the Date – New York City Book & Ephemera Fair on April 9

fair-space---headerNew York City Book and Ephemera Fair

On 9 April, booklovers will have the opportunity to see some of the finest rare books and ephemera at the New York City Book and Ephemera Fair, which this year is sponsored by AbeBooks.com.  More than 60 professional sellers will display a vast selection of antiquarian books, first editions, and other collectible treasures. For those with a passion for ephemera, this fair will not disappoint. Marquee items include an 1831 first edition of Beethoven’s vocal score for Fidelio and a 1938 letter from psychiatrist Carl Jung.

Visitors will have the opportunity to meet booksellers at the fair. These sellers have a vast amount of expertise and knowledge and will be presenting some of their finest items. Attendees can preview some of the exhibitors’ inventories by browsing their items on AbeBooks. Many respected sellers will be at the fair, including Little Sages Books, Read’ Em Again Books, Peter Harrington, Abby Schoolman, Carnegie Hill Books, DuBois Rare Books and others.

Other highlights set to appear at the fair include a first edition copy of Salome by Oscar Wilde – one of only 500 copies published, Herman Melville’s A Narrative of a Four Months’ Residence among the Natives of a Valley of the Marquesa Islands; or, A Peep at Polynesian and Omoo: A Narrative of Adventures in the South Seas and Anne Cobbett’s 1835 guide to housekeeping, The English Housekeeper: or Manuel of Domestic Management: Containing Advice On The Management of Household Affairs… For the Use of Young Ladies Who Undertake the Superintendence of Their Own Housekeeping.



Herman Melville’s A Narrative of a Four Months’ Residence among the Natives of a Valley of the Marquesa Islands; or, A Peep at Polynesian and Omoo: A Narrative of Adventures in the South Seas


The English Housekeeper: or Manuel of Domestic Management: Containing Advice On The Management of Household Affairs… For the Use of Young Ladies Who Undertake the Superintendence of Their Own Housekeeping

The fair will take place on 9 April from 8am until 4pm at the Wallace Hall at Church of St. Ignatius Loyloa, 980 Park Avenue in New York City. The event offers free, continuous shuttle bus transport to the Park Avenue Armory – location of the New York Antiquarian Book Fair – with the first trip leaving the Armory at 7:45am and the last one leaving Wallace Hall at 3:45pm. Tickets at the door are $15 for adults and $8 for youth aged between 12 and 21. For discount tickets, a complete list of attending dealers, and additional information, please see the fair website.

According to organizer Marvin Getman: “The New York City Book and Ephemera Fair is truly the best of all worlds, celebrating the remarkable intersection of art, history, and imagery.”

Other items of interest at the fair:


An Advertiser’s Alphabet. Illustrated by Ceri Richards, introduction by Mel Gooding


Serve it Forth by M.F.K. Fisher


The Faithful Bull by Ernest Hemingway, illustrations by Michael Foreman, 1980


Voluptés de Paris by Brassai, 1934


Madrigal by Tomas Tranströmer, first edition 2010

March’s bestselling signed books


March saw the passing of prolific American writer Pat Conroy (1945-2016), author of The Prince of Tides and Beach Music, and author Jim Harrison (1937-2016) who was known for his poetry, essays, and reviews. Harrison’s last collection of stories, The Ancient Minstrel, was published on March 1st. Both authors leave a legacy of beloved books behind, as seen on March’s list of bestselling signed books.

1. A Time of Torment by John Connolly

2. Morning Star: Book III of the Red Rising Trilogy by Pierce Brown

3. The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy

4. The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

5. The Ancient Minstrel by Jim Harrison

6. My Losing Season by Pat Conroy

7. Some Rain Must Fall by Karl Ove Knausgaard

8. Half-Earth: Our Planet’s Fight for Life by Edward O. Wilson

9. The Lords of Discipline by Pat Conroy

10. South of Broad by Pat Conroy

Amazon’s Top 10 Books: April 2016

It’s that time again. Every month, members of the Books team at Amazon read, rate and vote on the best books of the month, and release a list of their top 10 recommended best books.

Here’s this month’s list, including April’s Amazon debut book of the month, Lab Girl by Hope Jahren


Lab Girl by Hope Jahren
An illuminating debut memoir of a woman in science; a moving portrait of a longtime friendship; and a stunningly fresh look at plants that will forever change how you see the natural world Acclaimed scientist Hope Jahren has built three laboratories in which she s studied trees, flowers, seeds, and soil. Her first book is a revelatory treatise on plant life but it is also so much more. Lab Girl is a book about work, love, and the mountains that can be moved when those two things come together. It is told through Jahren s remarkable stories: about her childhood in rural Minnesota with an uncompromising mother and a father who encouraged hours of play in his classroom s labs; about how she found a sanctuary in science, and learned to perform lab work done with both the heart and the hands; and about the inevitable disappointments, but also the triumphs and exhilarating discoveries, of scientific work.


Lust Wonder by Augusten Burroughs
In chronicling the development and demise of the different relationships he s had while living in New York, Augusten Burroughs examines what it means to be in love, what it means to be in lust, and what it means to be figuring it all out. With Augusten s unique and singular observations and his own unabashed way of detailing both the horrific and the humorous, Lust and Wonder is an intimate and honest memoir that his legions of fans have been waiting for.


Maestra by L.S. Hilton
Born on the outside, always looking in, Judith has worked hard to learn the rules of class. She’s transformed her accent, taught herself about wine and the correct use of a dessert fork, not to mention the art of discretion. When she landed the job at British Pictures she thought she was finally on the make, but in a place like the House it turns out she may never pass the test. When Judith is fired after spotting an art forgery that could have made her career, she turns to the long-neglected friend that kept her chin up and back straight through every slight: Rage.


Dodgers by Bill Beverly
Dodgers is the story of a young man named East who works for an LA drug gang, sent by his uncle along with some other teenage boys–including East’s hotheaded younger brother–to kill a witness connected to a major case, who is hiding out in Wisconsin. The journey takes East out of a city he’s never left and into an America that is entirely alien to him, and over the course of his journey the book brings in elements from a diverse array of genres, ranging from crime fiction to road narrative to coming-of-age novel. Written in stark and unforgettable prose and featuring an array of surprising and memorable characters rendered with empathy and wit, Dodgers heralds the arrival of a major new voice in American fiction.


Kill em and Leave: Searching for James Brown and the American Soul by James McBride
National Book Award winner James McBride goes in search of the real James Brown and his surprising journey illuminates the ways in which our cultural heritage has been shaped by Brown s legacy. A product of the complicated history of the American South, James Brown was a cultural shape-shifter who arguably had the greatest influence of any artist on American popular music. Brown was long a figure of fascination for James McBride, a noted professional musician as well as a writer. When he received a tip that promised to uncover the man behind the myth, McBride set off to follow a trail that revealed the personal, musical, and societal influences that created this immensely troubled, misunderstood, and complicated soul genius.


Consequence: A Memoir by Eric Fair
Consequence is the story of Eric Fair, a kid who grew up in the shadows of crumbling Bethlehem Steel plants nurturing a strong faith and a belief that he was called to serve his country. It is a story of a man who chases his own demons from Egypt, where he served as an Army translator, to a detention center in Iraq, to seminary at Princeton, and eventually, to a heart transplant ward at the University of Pennsylvania. In 2004, after several months as an interrogator with a private contractor in Iraq, Eric Fair s nightmares take new forms: first, there had been the shrinking dreams; now the liquid dreams begin. By the time he leaves Iraq after that first deployment (he will return), Fair will have participated in or witnessed a variety of aggressive interrogation techniques including sleep deprivation, stress positions, diet manipulation, exposure, and isolation.

The Mathews Men: Seven Brothers and the War Against Hitler’s U-boats by William Geroux
Mathews County, Virginia, is a remote outpost on the Chesapeake Bay with little to offer except unspoiled scenery—but it sent an unusually large concentration of sea captains to fight in World War II. The Mathews Men tells that heroic story through the experiences of one extraordinary family whose seven sons (and their neighbors), U.S. merchant mariners all, suddenly found themselves squarely in the cross-hairs of the U-boats bearing down on the coastal United States in 1942.

A Burglar’s Guide to the City by Geoff Manaugh
At the heart of Geoff Manaugh s A Burglar s Guide to the City is an unexpected and thrilling insight: the city as seen through the eyes of robbers. From experts on both sides of the law, readers learn to understand the city as an arena of possible tunnels and picked locks and architecture itself as an obstacle to be outwitted and second-guessed. From how to pick locks (and the tools required) to how to case a bank on the edge of town, readers will learn to detect the vulnerabilities, blind spots, and unseen openings that surround us all the time.


The Last Painting of Sara de Vos by Dominic Smith
This is what we long for: the profound pleasure of being swept into vivid new worlds, worlds peopled by characters so intriguing and real that we can t shake them, even long after the reading s done. In his earlier, award-winning novels, Dominic Smith demonstrated a gift for coaxing the past to life. Now, in The Last Painting of Sara de Vos, he deftly bridges the historical and the contemporary, tracking a collision course between a rare landscape by a female Dutch painter of the golden age, an inheritor of the work in 1950s Manhattan, and a celebrated art historian who painted a forgery of it in her youth.


Girls and Sex: Navigating the Complicated New Landscape by Peggy Orenstein
The author of the New York Times bestseller Cinderella Ate My Daughter offers a clear-eyed picture of the new sexual landscape girls face in the post-princess stage high school through college and reveals how they are negotiating it.A generation gap has emerged between parents and their girls. Even in this age of helicopter parenting, the mothers and fathers of tomorrow s women have little idea what their daughters are up to sexually or how they feel about it. Drawing on in-depth interviews with over seventy young women and a wide range of psychologists, academics, and experts, renowned journalist Peggy Orenstein goes where most others fear to tread, pulling back the curtain on the hidden truths, hard lessons, and important possibilities of girls sex lives in the modern world.


Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, From Missiles to the Moon to Mars by Nathalia Holt
The riveting true story of the women who launched America into space. In the 1940s and 50s, when the newly minted Jet Propulsion Laboratory needed quick-thinking mathematicians to calculate velocities and plot trajectories, they didn t turn to male graduates. Rather, they recruited an elite group of young women who, with only pencil, paper, and mathematical prowess, transformed rocket design, helped bring about the first American satellites, and made the exploration of the solar system possible. For the first time, Rise of the Rocket Girls tells the stories of these women–known as human computers –who broke the boundaries of both gender and science.