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China in Print – Asia’s leading fair for rare books, prints, maps & ephemera

“Peking Dream Pillow” offered by Asia Bookroom

China in Print is Asia’s premier international fair and exhibition for rare books, manuscripts, maps, photographs, and ephemera with a particular focus on printed material from Asia itself. The three-day fair is set in the central waterfront location of the Hong Kong Maritime Museum and features some of the leading specialist dealers from Australia, Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Sweden, United Kingdom and the USA. AbeBooks is thrilled to once again be a sponsor of this event.

Fine Books Magazine has previewed the event on its blog.

Among the highlights at Asia Bookroom’s stand will be two color woodblocks on oban tate-e sheets, diptyche style, satirically depicting the Opium War. Known as the Peking Dream Pillow (see above), it was created by Japanese artist Imaizumi Ippyō in 1884.

One of the fair’s most popular exhibits is bound to be the “lost” Agatha Christie manuscript notebook at Lucius Books. The unpublished notes relate to her novels, A Murder Has Been Arranged and They Do It With Mirrors, and her plays, Spider’s Web and Miss Perry. According to the seller, “Of the 74 Agatha Christie notebooks known to exist, this recently discovered one is not only the richest in content but is the only one outside of the author’s estate.”

And from Jonkers Rare Books: a Jessie M. King hand-painted vellucent binding of The Story of Rosalynde (1902), made for Cedric Chivers. It has been called “The most beautiful, and certainly the most ornate” of King’s vellucent binding designs.

The event runs November 17 -19 at the Hong Kong Maritime Museum Special Exhibitions Gallery, Central Ferry Pier No. 8, Man Kwong St, in Hong Kong.

Friday 17 November 16.00 – 20.00
Saturday 18 November 12.00 – 19.00
Sunday 19 November 12.00 – 16.00

Admission is free. Visit the fair website for more information.

175-year-old fig leaf just sold for $660. Find out why.

This might be the world’s most fragile piece of art – a gouache painting on a Chinese fig leaf from the 19th century that had been mounted on paper. It’s just sold for $660 on AbeBooks.com.

To be accurate, it’s from a peepal tree, which is also called Ficus religiosa or the sacred fig, a tree native to South-West China and the Indian subcontinent. Sometimes known as Bodhi trees, the Peepal is strongly associated with Buddhism and monks often meditate beneath its branches.

These delicate miniature paintings were produced in the 19th century in order to satisfy demand from Europeans for Chinese art and novelties. The seller estimated that this painting was created around 1840. Very few of these Chinese leaf paintings have survived for obvious reasons. Gouache is a type of watercolor.

The painting shows a riverside scene that probably depicts the 18 Arhats, who were the original followers of Buddha. A group that followed the ‘Eightfold Path’ and attained the ‘Four Stages of Enlightenment.’ These disciples are frequently portrayed in Chinese Buddhist art. You can also see the delicate outline made by the leaf’s skeleton on the left side of the paper.

It’s hard to imagine a more fragile or fleeting piece of artwork – one gust of wind or some clumsy handling and this beautiful leaf could be gone.

There are modern artists using leaves as canvases for paintings, but will their artwork still be around in 150 years?

When your 67-year-old mom places a personal ad asking for action

Sad news. Jane Juska has died at the age of 84. She is famous for placing the following personal ad in The New York Review of Books:

Before I turn 67—next March—I would like to have a lot of sex with a man I like. If you want to talk first, Trollope works for me.

Jane Juska’s bestselling memoir

Jane’s adventures in her search for sex in her sixties became a memoir and a play. The 2003 memoir is called  A Round-Heeled Woman: My Late-Life Adventures in Sex and Romance. Round-heeled is a old fashioned term for a promiscuous woman.

The divorcée, an English teacher with one son, simply decided she’d been celibate long enough. The book details Juska’s numerous dates, which tended to quickly gravitate towards the bedroom. She did check with her son before placing the ad but he welcomed the idea with the words “Go get ’em, Mom. It’s your turn.”

The ad generated 63 replies from men across a variety of ages. After a year of dating, Juska put pen to paper and initially wrote fiction before one of her dates persuaded her to switch to memoir. A Round-Heeled Woman was adapted into a stage show starring Sharon Gless of  Cagney and Lacey fame.

Juska also wrote a follow-up called Unaccompanied Women, which concerns loneliness.

Don’t Miss the Toronto Antiquarian Book Fair, Nov 3-5, 2017

The Toronto Antiquarian Book Fair is held this week at the Art Gallery of Ontario. Once again, AbeBooks is proud to be a sponsor. From November 3-5, booksellers from around Canada will be showcasing some of their most interesting items, including maps, prints, manuscripts and other valuable first edition and signed books.

Whether you are an experienced or novice book collector, a librarian or an archivist, a scholar or an academic, or are simply interested in books and the book arts in general, you will find something to your taste.

Location: Art Gallery of Ontario – 317 Dundas St W, Toronto
When: November 3 – 5, 2017
Hours: Fri Nov 3: 5pm to 9pm / Sat Nov 4: 10:30am to 5:30pm / Sun Nov 5: 12pm to 4:30pm

Admission: Free with AGO admission
General Admission: $19.50

For more information, visit the book fair’s website.

Come Visit the Seattle Antiquarian Book Fair: Oct. 14-15, 2017

The Pacific Northwest’s premier book event is back! The Seattle Antiquarian Book Fair is taking place October 14-15, 2017, at the Seattle Center Exhibition Hall. If you haven’t been before, you’re in for a treat: a chance to meet with specialists from all over the world and browse a veritable museum of cultural and historical artifacts.

Dealers from across the United States, Canada, England and beyond will be displaying thousands of collectible books, prints, maps, manuscripts, autographs, photographs, posters, postcards, broadsides, fine bindings and ephemera. With inventory available at all price ranges, you are sure to find something interesting and unusual to take home.

AbeBooks sellers attending the fair include Louis Collins Books, Nudelman Rare Books, Peter Harrington Rare Books, Montgomery Rare Books & Manuscripts, Books Tell You Why, and many more.

Tickets are only $5 and can be used for both Saturday and Sunday entries.


Saturday, October 14th, 10am-6pm
Sunday, October 15th, 11am-4pm

Kazuo Ishiguro wins the 2017 Nobel Prize for Literature

Kazuo Ishiguro has won the 2017 Nobel Prize for Literature. He is famous for the bestselling novels The Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go.

Never Let Me Go, published in 2005

He has only written eight books, but they are good ones. All widely translated and acclaimed by readers and critics around the world. Born in Japan in 1954, Ishiguro’s family moved to the UK when he was five and he studied English and philosophy at the University of Kent. He then studied creative writing at the University of East Anglia. His MA thesis was turned into his first novel, A Pale View of Hills, published in 1982. The novel is about a Japanese woman living in England struggling to come to terms with the death of her daughter.

Ishiguro won the Booker Prize in 1989 for The Remains of the Day. It tells the story of a butler whose employer was a Nazi sympathizer. The award confirmed his standing as a leading light in a new generation of British writers.

Published in 2005, Never Let Me Go tells the story a group of students at a boarding school living in a dystopian future. The film version starred Keira Knightley and Carey Mulligan. Never Let Me Go turned Ishiguro into an international superstar in literary circles. In an interview with The Guardian in 2014, he admitted that he wrote this novel in four weeks.

I would, for a four-week period, ruthlessly clear my diary and go on what we somewhat mysteriously called a “Crash”. During the Crash, I would do nothing but write from 9am to 10.30pm, Monday through Saturday. I’d get one hour off for lunch and two for dinner. I’d not see, let alone answer, any mail, and would not go near the phone. No one would come to the house.

Ishiguro has a distinct writing style featuring restrained prose. His novels are often narrated in the first person by unreliable narrators. Like many great writers, what isn’t said on the page is what really matters in his plots. The reader needs to grasp the difference between perception and reality. He has an acute grasp of Britain’s lingering class system.

He is comfortable switching between genres. His latest book, The Buried Giant, was published in 2015 and is a fantasy story set in Arthurian Britain. The Unconsoled is a surreal-like novel about a pianist in an unnamed European city. When We Were Orphans could be considered a detective novel.

The Folio Society published an attractive edition of Never Let Me Go in 2007 with illustrations by Finn Campbell-Notman.

Ishiguro was named an OBE in 1995. Past winners of the Nobel Prize in Literature include T.S. Eliot, Samuel Beckett, Alice Munro, Saul Bellow, Ernest Hemingway, Gabriel García Márquez and Toni Morrison.  Musician Bob Dylan was the controversial winner in 2016.

Find signed copies of Kazuo Ishiguro’s books

The Folio Society’s edition of Never Let Me Go

Don’t miss the Vancouver Rare Book, Photograph & Paper Show

Books from the 2013 Vancouver Book Fair

The Vancouver Rare Book, Photograph & Paper Show is coming up this weekend. This is Western Canada’s premier antiquarian event with exhibitors from British Columbia as well as Calgary, Winnipeg, Ottawa, London, Toronto and Montreal. Visitors will see books, fine maps, photographs, ephemera, prints, manuscripts and more.

There will be lots of Canadiana, encompassing local history, local authors and maps, but also books and paper collectibles from all over the world.

October 7 (9am to 4pm),

October 8 (10am to 3pm),

Admission: $10 at the door,

Venue: Heritage Hall, 3102 Main Street, Vancouver, BC.         

The dealers include Aquila Books from Calgary, Bjarne Tokerud and Dale Cournoyer from Victoria, Bison Books and Greenfield Books from Winnipeg, Thompson Rare Books from Hornby Island, and Hourglass Books from Vancouver.

It’s wonderful to see a fair of this nature back on in Vancouver. Heritage Hall is an interesting building, designated a heritage structure by the City of Vancouver in 1974.

Learn more at the fair’s website.


Top 10 most searched for Playboy issues since Hugh Hefner’s death

Aside from books, AbeBooks.com also offers vintage magazines and periodical, including thousands of Playboys. We are seeing more searches for “Playboy” than anything else right now. People are searching for very specific issues and the most popular one is October 1985 when supermodel Jerry Hall was photographed by Annie Leibovitz.

I believe the photoshoot was called ‘Hall of Mirrors’, and involved Hall appearing as a partially wrapped present next to a Christmas tree.

It’s clear that certain issues of Playboy from the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s resonate strongly with people who either read them at the time, or perhaps are discovering them for the first time.

Top 10 Most Searched for Playboy Issues

1 Playboy October 1985 – Jerry Hall photographed by Annie Leibovitz, John De Lorean and Rosanna Arquette interviews

Playboy November 1981 – Playmate Shannon Tweed Simmons (wife of Gene Simmons of Kiss), Vicki La Motta at 51, interview with Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci, David Halberstam on the NBA

3 Playboy January 1979 – 25th anniversary issue with a bunny logo cover, Playmate Candy Loving, Marlon Brando interview

Playboy October 1990 – Melissa Evridge cover, Keifer Sutherland interview, profile of boxer Buster Douglas

Playboy March 1984 – Playmate Donna Speir, Susie Scott cover, profile of playwright Sam Shepard, ‘Betrayal of John Lennon’ article.

Playboy April 1984 – Kathy Shower cover, interview with actress Joan Collins.

Playboy February 1992 – Rachel Williams cover, Playmate Tanya Beyer, interview with actress Jennifer Jason Leigh

Playboy May 1996 – Cindy Crawford cover, interview with author Ray Bradbury

Playboy April 1979 – Rita Lee cover, 300th Playmate Amanda ‘Missy’ Cleveland, feature on ‘Sex in Chicago’

10 Playboy January 1988 – Art Deco cover featuring bunny logo, Playmate Kimberley Conrad, Arnold Schwarzenegger interview

Celebrate Art and Artists’ Books History at NYABF17 – Sept. 22-24

Photo courtesy Megan Mack

AbeBooks is pleased to partner with the twelfth annual NY Art Book Fair, the world’s premier event for artists’ books, catalogs, monographs, periodicals, and zines. The event, presented by Printed Matter, is taking place September 22 to 24, 2017, at MoMA PS1, Long Island City, Queens.

Free and open to the public, the 2017 NY Art Book Fair will feature over 370 booksellers, antiquarians, artists, institutions and independent publishers from twenty-eight countries. Exhibitors include zinesters, innovative and affordable publishing houses, and rare and antiquarian dealers offering an unparalleled selection of out-of-print books and ephemera from art and artist book history.

If you’d like to get first pick of the fair’s exciting inventory, be sure to buy a ticket for the opening night preview on Thursday, September 21, from 6 to 9 pm. The evening will feature special live performances on the steps of PS1 by Upstate Music, BLONDES, and Alexis Taylor (HOT CHIP). Entry to the preview costs only $10, with proceeds going to support NYABF17. The first 2,000 visitors to pre-pay online or to pay at the door (while supplies last) will receive a Ticket Edition by Emma Kohlmann.

Photo courtesy Megan Mack

Plus, the fair is once again hosting an array of programming and special events. The Classroom, sponsored by AbeBooks, will return for its eighth year of informal conversations, workshops, readings, and other artist-led interventions. Visitors will also have a chance to attend the tenth annual Contemporary Artists’ Book Conference, featuring two full days on emerging practices and issues within art-book culture.

Whether you are an artist, an art book collector, or just want to learn more about art and artist book history, Printed Matter and AbeBooks hope to see you at NYABF17!

Preview Thursday, September 21, 6-9 pm
Friday, September 22, 1-7pm
Saturday, September 23, 11am-9pm
Sunday, September 24, 11-am-7pm

MoMA PS1 is located at 22-25 Jackson Avenue on 46th Avenue,
Long Island City, NY

Photo courtesy BJ Enright Photography

Hurricanes Harvey and Irma spark interest in Isaac’s Storm by Erik Larson

Isaac’s Storm by Erik Larson

AbeBooks.com is currently seeing a spike in sales of Isaac’s Storm by Erik Larson, a non-fiction book first published in 1999, which provides a real insight into hurricanes, weather forecasting and human folly.

Larson’s book details the hurricane that hit Galvaston, Texas, in 1900 and killed more than 6,000 people, making it America’s worst natural disaster. The ‘Isaac’ referenced in the title is Isaac Cline, chief observer of the Weather Bureau in Galvaston. Larson explains the events mainly from Cline’s perspective and details the mistakes that contributed to the huge loss of life in a city that was completely unprepared.

The book was last published in 2008, and has been a bestseller around the world. However, Isaac’s Storm has gone off the radar in recent years and is now effectively out-of-print.

It details how weather forecasting was rapidly developing at the turn of the century, but the Weather Bureau’s communication skills and leadership left much to be desired.

Larson’s book also shows how badly prepared the United States used to be for extreme weather. In the case of the 1900 hurricane,  Larson builds a picture of a world enjoying a period of unheard of technological advancement where nature really wasn’t regarded as much of a threat. The Weather Bureau was an organization spoiled by internal politics, according to Larson, that had “banned the use of the word ‘tornado’ because it induced panic.” It chose to ignore warnings from Cuba and attempted to centralize communications around storm warnings.

Galvaston’s highest point in 1900 was just 8.7 feet above sea level. Because record-keeping was rather sketchy at this point, details of any previous floods of the town were considered to be myths.

Larson’s description of the winds, ranging from 150pm to 200mph, and multiple storm surges of water are intense. Wooden houses were picked up and crushed. Debris filled the air and the sea, and became incredibly dangerous. Cline – who could have evacuated his family – lost his pregnant wife, three daughters and his younger brother in the storm.

Willis Moore, the chief of the US Weather Bureau, wrote that the Galvaston storm was a one-off. “Galvaston should take heart as the chance are that not once in a thousand years would she be so terribly shaken.” The city, which built a sea wall in response to the 1900 disaster, was hit by hurricanes in 1915, 1919, 1932, 1941, 1943, 1949, 1957, 1961 and 1983, according to Larson.  Galvaston is 60 miles from Houston and felt the effects of Hurricane Harvey just days ago.

Larson’s sources included Isaac Cline’s 1945 memoir, Storms, Floods and Sunshine, the Weather Bureau archives, and Galvaston’s Rosenberg Library.

Find copies of Isaac’s Storm