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William Nicholson’s Alphabet Book

William Nicholson’s Alphabet book, published in 1897, is an ABC book like no other. A talented artist, illustrator and print-maker, Nicholson used simple woodcuts and minimal text to show the good, bad and ugly of Victorian society. It contains a self-portrait, a family joke and E for Executioner.
Find copies of William Nicholson’s Alphabet book

Three Howard University Yearbooks Featuring Kamala Harris Sell for $1,500

The 1984, 1985 and 1986 editions of the Howard University yearbook

If you attended Howard University between 1984 and 1986, you might want to dig out your college yearbooks. AbeBooks recently sold a set of Bison yearbooks for 1984, 1985 and 1986 for $1,500 thanks to the inclusion of Kamala Harris, who graduated from Howard in 1986 with a degree in political science and economics.

Kamala Harris, center, in her senior year photograph

Harris – the United States’ first female vice president, and the first African American and first Asian American vice president – is pictured smiling brightly in her senior photograph.

Kamala Harris, center of back row, with her economics society colleagues

While at Howard, she chaired the economics society and led the debate team. She can be seen smiling once more in a group photo with nine of her economics society colleagues during her sophomore year. Howard is a traditionally black university located in Washington DC. After leaving Howard, Harris studied law at the University of California.

College and high school yearbooks often increase in value after a student becomes well known in a particular field like politics, sport, or the arts.

Over the years, AbeBooks has sold several yearbooks featuring notable students. William Faulkner’s Ole Miss yearbook for 1921 sold for $4,500. Faulkner attended the University of Mississippi in 1917, 1918, 1921 and 1922, taking a two-year break to fight in World War I.

A 1904 edition of The Lucky Bag, the yearbook of the United States Naval Academy, sold for $2,000 as it featured future science fiction writer Robert A. Heinlein among its graduating class. Heinlein had also signed it. Ronald Reagan’s high school yearbook for 1928, the Dixonian, sold for $1,850. The future actor and president contributed articles and appeared in 10 photos.

Numerous yearbooks are listed for sale on AbeBooks, including editions featuring Gerald Ford, Bill Clinton, Marilyn Monroe and Bob Dylan.

Kamala Harris isn’t the only politician currently appealing to collectors.

Promise Me, Dad covers a difficult year for the Biden family

A signed first edition of Joe Biden’s 2017 memoir, Promise Me, Dad, sold for $1,995 last month. However, there is far more demand for collectible copies of Barack Obama’s latest book. Signed limited edition deluxe copies of A Promised Land are selling for four-figure prices on AbeBooks. More than 11 copies have sold for more than $1,000 since the book’s release in November with a top selling price of $2,650.

Prices have exceeded $1,000 for signed copies of A Promised Land

The story of Takaya Lone Wolf

In our latest podcast, we interview Cheryl Alexander who is a conservation photographer based in Victoria, British Columbia, and the author of a book called Takaya Lone Wolf. Beginning in 2014, she photographed the unusual phenomenon of a lone wolf that lived on a cluster of small islands about 1.5km off the coast of Victoria on Vancouver Island.

Cheryl’s book, filled with stunning photography, explains and documents the remarkable life of this solitary wolf, which lived so close to a city of 300,000 people.

Find copies of Takaya Lone Wolf

Watch Cheryl’s documentary on CBC Gem

The most desirable rare book of 2020 – A Wonderful Time by Slim Aarons

The most desirable rare book of 2020 is pure escapism. A Wonderful Time by Slim Aarons is an out-of-print photo-book from 1974 that revealed the sumptuous lifestyles of America’s elite society in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.

Before 2020, it was possible to purchase copies for less than $200. This year, copies have been selling for thousands of dollars via AbeBooks.

Aarons (1916-2006) specialized in photographing America’s socialites and jet-setters decades before we discovered the Kardashians. His photographs showed beautiful people in beautiful places having a wonderful time. Stunning mansions with unbelievable views, swimming pools with the bluest water, hunting lodges, and parties were all recorded by Aarons and his camera.

A Wonderful Time: An Intimate Portrait of the Good Life is an 190-page folio edition filled with images of America’s wealthiest families such as the Fords, Vanderbilts and Rockefellers. They are shown in Bermuda, the Caribbean, Acapulco, Aspen, and on ranches and private estates across the United States.

Aarons (1916-2006) gained access to high society through his photo assignments for Town & Country, Harper’s Bazaar, Life, Vogue, Travel & Leisure, and other publications. He also photographed business moguls, actors, royalty, and politicians as they relaxed on ski slopes and their yachts. Cecil Beaton, Barry Goldwater, TS Eliot, Burl Ives, and Truman Capote are among the celebrities displayed in photographs in the book.

In January 2020, a customer bought a copy of A Wonderful Time, without a dust jacket, for $130 on AbeBooks. That was a bargain. By July, a copy with a dust jacket sold for $2,000. By August, demand peaked when signed a copy sold for $5,000.  Copies have sold at an average price of $2,250 in 2020. Only a couple of copies are still available.

Aarons didn’t just influence the rare book world in 2020. In May, French fashion brand Maje launched a line of clothing using Aarons’ poolside images.

In October, a Palm Springs home designed by legendary architect Richard Neutra went on the market for $25 million. The ‘Kaufmann Desert House’ is famous for its swimming pool with mountain views, which was featured in Aarons’ 1970 image Poolside Gossip.

In the year of staying at home, A Wonderful Time by Slim Aarons has clearly found a generation of admirers who crave sitting beside the perfect swimming pool while sipping the perfect martini.

DreamHaven Books – Minneapolis’ haven for sci-fi, fantasy & horror

DreamHaven Books: selling books since 1977

We’d like to tell you about a little bookshop in Minneapolis with a big heart. DreamHaven Books specializes in new and used science fiction, fantasy, horror, film books, comics, and graphic novels, and it’s been serving customers since 1977.

Last week, owner Greg Ketter and an employee were attacked and robbed as they closed up the bookstore. Greg lost his wallet and the day’s cash. Both were beaten and bruised, and they were probably thinking that 2020 just couldn’t get much worse.

Well, they breed tough booksellers in Minnesota and DreamHaven Books didn’t miss a beat.

“We’re healing up just fine,” said Greg. “I don’t heal as quickly as I did when I was young but things look pretty good.”

We’d like to lend a little support by telling you a bit more about this bookshop.

Firstly, you will find DreamHaven at 2301 E. 38th St. Minneapolis, MN 55407. They are open Monday through Saturday, 12 noon to 6pm.

Secondly, they offer an eclectic selection of books, ranging from scarce vintage paperbacks to some highly collectible horror and fantasy books, and signed limited editions.

Published in 1967 by Arkham House, this is collection of fantasy stories

They offer an extensive selection of horror and weird fiction published by Arkham House. Arkham will always be famous for printing the work of H.P. Lovecraft – the king of weird fiction. Memorable bindings and limited print runs mean that books from this publisher are loved by collectors of supernatural fiction.

Browse DreamHaven’s Arkham House books

There’s a handful of books by Alan Dean Foster, who is well known for his fantasy and science fiction, and novelizations of film scripts. He’s written books for the Star Wars, Star Trek, Alien, and Transformers universes.

Browse DreamHaven’s Alan Dean Foster books

William Boyd was one of the first Western adventure TV stars

DreamHaven’s Hopalong Cassidy books caught our eye. They’re Doubleday Western editions with Louis L’Amour writing as by Tex Burns. William Boyd is pictured on the cover. Boyd famously played Cassidy in the long-running NBC TV show.

Browse DreamHaven’s Hopalong Cassidy books

DreamHaven also offers a wide selection of books published by Subterranean Press, who are at the forefront of collectible editions in the horror, suspense, science fiction, and dark fantasy genres. Subterranean Press – also referred to as simply SubPress – has published hundreds of books, as well as a quarterly magazine called Subterranean Magazine, featuring short stories from some of today’s most popular genre authors. Subterranean’s luxuriously bound limited editions, signed, lettered and numbered editions, and unique trade editions are highly desirable.

Browse DreamHaven’s Subterranean books

American poet Louise Glück wins 2020 Nobel Prize for Literature

Nobel Prize winner Louise Glück has released a dozen collections of poetry

Today, we have a good reason to talk about poetry. Louise Glück (pronounced Glick) has won the 2020 Nobel prize for literature. She is the first American woman to win since Toni Morrison in 1993. The 77-year-old writer has already won a Pulitzer, a National Book Award and numerous other prizes.

Her writing often covers children and families, and new interpretations of classical myths. Glück was America’s poet laureate from 2003 to 2004, and she is currently an adjunct professor and writer in residence at Yale University.
Find copies of her books

Spend the night in Gladstone’s Library

This is the UK’s only residential library, Gladstone’s Library in Flintshire near Chester. Yes, you can spend the night in this building. We speak to warden and director Peter Francis about the history of this remarkable institution in our latest podcast.

Gustave Dore’s London

In 1869 a journalist called Blanchard Jerrold joined forces with the famous French artist Gustave Doré to create an illustrated record of London.

Night and day, this duo explored the city, going from poverty-stricken slums to royal palaces. The book, first published in parts, was called London: A Pilgrimage, and it contained 180 wood engravings. Published in 1872, it was slammed by critics for focusing on the worst aspects of London and for factual inaccuracies but Doré illustrations were stunning and it became a bestseller.

Today a first edition of Doré’s London costs thousands while a later edition costs hundreds, but modern reprints can be found for under $30.

Arsons, forgeries & poker: how Johnny Jenkins blazed a trail through antiquarian bookselling

In the latest AbeBooks podcast, we interview bookseller and author Michael Vinson about his new book, which describes the life and misadventures of Texas rare book dealer Johnny Jenkins during the 1970s and 1980s.

Surrounded by gambling debts and with the authorities breathing down his neck over two suspicious fires, Jenkins was found dead in a river in 1989 from a gunshot wound to the head. His death shocked the world of antiquarian bookselling.

Vinson’s book is called Bluffing Texas Style: The Arsons, Forgeries, and High-Stakes Poker Capers of Rare Book Dealer Johnny Jenkins.

Jenkins had turned antiquarian bookselling on its head in 1975 when he purchased a huge selection of Americana from Eberstadt & Sons for $2 million. He also became a media hero after working with the FBI to recover stolen materials, which then helped him win membership to the ABAA (Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America). His books were displayed at rare book fairs around the world, and he sold books and ephemera to some of Texas’ richest and most powerful people.

And yet Jenkins sold stolen goods and forgeries, he may also have forged objects himself, he sold complete materials and then delivered incomplete copies to customers, and – at the time of his death – he was about to be accused of arson in relation to suspicious fires at his business locations.

Ever the flamboyant personality, Jenkins also played professional poker in Las Vegas but accumulated huge debts as his gambling spiraled out of control. Although short in height, Jenkins was a larger than life character, who loved to be the center of attention.

Find copies of Bluffing Texas Style: The Arsons, Forgeries, and High-Stakes Poker Capers of Rare Book Dealer Johnny Jenkins.

Author Michael Vinson examines the life and death of rare bookseller Johnny Jenkins